Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Dream

"The Dream" is a long poem in quatrains from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) that went unpublished in his lifetime. It is not available on The Eldritch Dark, so here is the complete text:

It was a nest of horror, whimsy-wrought
With orts and shreds from old abysses caught;
An eyrie swung on swift ulterior awe,
Tangled on summits of mysterious thought.

Grotesque and vague, I watch the vision shift--
A bubble that a Titan's breath might lift,
Who drowns in seas more dark than his despair,
Fabrics of iron hue, whirling adrift,

Or like pellucid crystals dropt from hands
Of toying Gods, that fire my shadow-lands--
Then, like a sphere exalted past the sun,
It bursts!--while thought in eager question stands.

Conscious of gulfs down which I dare not gaze,
I grope on faltering and imperiled ways
To shores where hoary mountains dance and roar,
And silent oceans lie as in amaze.

The flames that wait against the End of things
Flutter and verge unto my wanderings.
Past numb and blanching regions loved of Death,
Aback I flee, floating on lifeless wings--

Past midnight deserts full of sorceries,
Yet levin-lit and bare as breathless seas,
Dreading the tiger-crough of deadly Shapes
Alert in the wilds of dim eternities.

Now, in a trice, it seems that Time is done:
Light still endures, whose touch I may not shun;
Though at my back I hear the lips of Night
Puff out the flaring beacon of the sun.

Upon a barren blink I reel to see
The lower Dark--while, thundering over me,
Dawn hurls therein the cinders of dead stars,
And shells of worlds that rattle emptily.

Each quatrain of this poem uses an interesting rhyme scheme of AABA, not something I have seen much previously in CAS' poetry.  Outside of that, the poem doesn't hold much interest, reading like something of a draft, which is not entirely surprising since CAS never published this one.

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