Monday, August 3, 2020


Read "Revenant" at The Eldritch Dark:

Fair warning: the version of this poem at The Eldritch Dark is riddled with typos 😕

Even with a bad transcription, this poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) has a palpable and haunting beauty:

And crowned with funereal gems,
I hold awhile the throne
Whereon mine immemorial selves have sate,
Canopied by the triple-tinted glory
Of the three suns forever paled and flown.

However, "Revenant" represents one of those rare cases where I think CAS' extensive vocabulary gets a little out of hand, and it feels like he's working his thesaurus a little too hard. Word choices such as "clepsammiae", "clepsydrae", and "parapegms" are not only awkward in context, they're also just a little too obscure and setting-specific to contribute anything to the poem's overall impact.


  1. I agree that the vocabulary gets a little too ahead of itself, which is not something I often say about CAS, but one good thing with this poem is how I'm immediately swept away by the central spectre to return to these time-lost places, and with so much desire, confidence, and intimacy. To be a spirit familiar with the immemorial sphinxes! Here is someone who would want to visit Poe's "City in the Sea", in spite of or because of the presence of Death. The typos are an eyesore and the rather obscure vocabulary can trip me up, but this is one of those poems that can cast a necromantic spell on me.

    1. I appreciate your broader view of "Revenant", because I can't disagree with your point that "this is one of those poems that can cast a necromantic spell". In this case, I found the exotic vocabulary a little too distracting, but if I ignore those sorts of technical issues, it's true that "Revenant" has a powerful flow of weird narrative that hearkens to Poe's "City in the Sea".