Monday, September 16, 2019

The Chimera

Read "The Chimera" at The Eldritch Dark:

This is a powerful sonnet from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS).  On reading it I am immediately reminded of one of my favorite lines from CAS' outstanding long poem "Nero".  The line from that earlier poem reads: "Destruction crouching at the back of Time", which provides an interesting echo on how the subject of Time is handled in "The Chimera", particularly in the wonderful final stanza:

He crouches like a passive sphinx before
Some temple-gate, or grinning, moves to grant
Thine entrance at the monarch's golden door.

In this poem, CAS has captured the notion of Time as a vector of inevitable destruction, and the characterization of Time as "a passive sphinx" that is "grinning" serves to drive the knife in further with a tone of mocking finality.  If CAS is a jester in the court of human vanity, this sonnet could well be his ultimate quip.

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