Friday, October 30, 2020

Humors of Love

Read "Humors of Love" at The Eldritch Dark:


This sonnet from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) makes perfect use of the volta, or the turn between the proposition of the first stanza and the resolution of the second stanza.  The opening octet sets a darkly serious tone:


Our love has grown a thing too deep and grave
For touch and speech of trivial gallantries:
For we have wrought consummate sorceries
From which no lifted sign nor prayer may save:


But CAS' writings always have a certain impish quality, and he brings that to the forefront in the closing sestet:


We find, with some enchanted memory mixed,
The laughters heard in Swift and Rabelais;
And, blended with the rapture and the woe,
Are drolleries of blithe Boccaccio.


The references to the works of Jonathan Swift, Fran├žois Rabelais and Giovanni Boccaccio introduce a tone of ribald satire that was common to those three writers.  

In contrast to much of CAS' early poetry from the Star-Treader era, this more mature poem (written in 1941 when he was in his late forties) paints a somber setting with a jest, pairing the author's taste for the cosmic and the weird with his wry view of the foibles of humanity.

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