Saturday, April 11, 2020

To George Sterling: A Valediction

Read "To George Sterling: A Valediction" at The Eldritch Dark:

This is not the first tribute to George Sterling that Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) wrote, although this one has added weight from being written after Sterling's suicide in 1926.  As with most of the poetic tributes to individual people I have ever read, this one is interesting but not quite complete as a work of poetry.  

There is beauty here, but significant bitterness as well:

Thou hast departed — and the dog and swine abide,
The fetid-fingered ghouls will delve, on many a morrow
In charnel, urn and grave: the sun shall lantern these,
Oblivious, till they too have faltered and have died,
And are no more than pestilential breath that flees
On air unwalled and wide.

To CAS' credit, he repudiates those same feelings in a later stanza:

Peace, peace! for grief and bitterness avails not ever,
And sorrow wrongs thy sleep:
Better it is to be as thou, who art forever
As part and parcel of the infinite fair deep—
Who dwellest now in mystery, with days hesternal
And time that is not time: we have no need to weep,
For woe may not befall, where thou in ways supernal
Hast found the perfect love that is oblivion,
The poppy-tender lips of her that reigns, eternal,
In realms not of the sun.

All-in-all, it's a long and heartfelt tribute to the memory of Sterling, but somewhat mediocre as poetry.  Nonetheless, it is a worthwhile read simply to understand the great impact that Sterling's passing had on the younger poet whom he had graciously mentored in better days.

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