Read "In Thessaly" at The Eldritch Dark:
This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) was first published in the November 1935 issue of Weird Tales magazine.
In Greek myth, the region of Thessaly has a number of legendary associations, including a reputation for being the haunt of witches. CAS draws powerfully on this vein, particularly in the last stanza:
And the black lote in Thessaly
Its juices dripped unceasingly
Above the rotting mouth of me;
And worm and mould and graveyard must
And roots of cypress, darkly thrust,
Transformed the dead to utter dust.
By placing this poem in the realm of Greek myth, and by invoking Apuleius' ancient Roman novel Metamorphoses, CAS elevates a rather simple concept to something imbued with the flavor of dark legend and the thaumaturgical mysteries of the early historical era.
After reading your interesting thoughts on "Dominion", and accepting your kind offer of sharing with me the rest of "A Dream of Vathek", I am all too eager to make myself a regular around here!ReplyDelete
I never knew Thessaly was strongly associated with witches, but learning this helped me appreciate Smith's poem even more. He had that rare, imaginative gift of expanding on folkloric and mythological suggestions, and then bringing them to startling reality. The reference to The Golden Ass was profound; it made me feel as if the narrator was yearning for, or already content with, an occult power much deeper and darker (beyond death?) than the cult of heavenly Isis.
(sorry for the removed post, I deleted it by accident!)
I think your description of CAS' unique talent is right on the money:ReplyDelete
"He had that rare, imaginative gift of expanding on folkloric and mythological suggestions, and then bringing them to startling reality."
Many creative people over the centuries have drawn on those same sources for inspiration, but CAS did so with a rare feeling for the original material that allowed him to create new works that were not derivative. While this is most obvious in his poetry, I think it's there in his prose writing as well, and perhaps most strongly expressed is his small body of poems in prose.