Wednesday, October 16, 2019


Read "Heliogabalus" at The Eldritch Dark:

This sonnet is another of Clark Ashton Smith's (CAS) purported translations from the French of Christophe des Laurières, a name which was simply a pseudonym for CAS himself.  The poem takes for its subject the Roman emperor Elagabalus, whose reputation has become emblematic of imperial decadence, much in the vein of the emperor Nero (about whom CAS also versified).

While this is not as effective a poem as "Nero," the first section nonetheless strikes some of the same notes used in that long poem, especially with the evocation of musical symbols:

To make of lyric deed and lyric thought
One music of perverse accord, wherein
The songless blatancy and banal din
Of all the world should perish

The phrase "One music of perverse accord" has a real power, and lingers in the mind with a malevolent potency.  

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