Friday, August 7, 2020


Read "Outlanders" at The Eldritch Dark:

This sonnet from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) saw publication in the June 1938 issue of Weird Tales magazine, and the less said about the cover image (by Margaret Brundage) the better!

The poem itself is a beautiful celebration of outsider status, fueled by CAS' unique talent for invoking the weird and the other-worldly:

We gather, upon those gulfward beaches rolled,
Driftage of worlds not shown by any chart;
And pluck the fabled moly from wild scaurs:
Though these are scorned by human wharf and mart—
And scorned alike the red, primeval gold
For which we fight the griffins in strange wars.

That very last line of the closing sestet is very memorable - even in the short phrase "we fight the griffins in strange wars" CAS captures a whole world of adventure, discovery, and the fantastic. 


  1. "Though these are scorned by human wharf and mart."

    I can relate with this sentiment, as one whose imagination was always too strange and wild for any particular in-group, even among those who call themselves weird or outsiders. One of the greatest joys and liberations, for me, is among those distant dark strands described in the poem, with Beauty and the driftage of lost worlds.

    By the way, what are those "white horses of Polaris" supposed to be? I understand they're another form of intensely strange phantasy, but is the reference derived from myth, or Smith's own imagination?

  2. The phrase "the white horses of Polaris" is rather mysterious! I'm not aware of any mythological references that would associate Polaris with horses. All I can conjecture that since Polaris is currently the northern pole star, CAS might have been envisioning the celestial movement of the multiple stars in that cluster as akin to the galloping of a herd of horses. But that's nothing other than a guess on my part!