Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Amor Hesternalis

Read "Amor Hesternalis" at The Eldritch Dark:


The title of this poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) can be translated from the Latin as "Yesterday's Love".  It uses the quintilla form with an ABBAA rhyme scheme and almost identical first and last lines in each stanza.

CAS had an undeniable talent for invoking the glories of the mythic past, a talent that he shared with John Keats (among others):

Our lot is with the lost and old:
We live, as in some fabulous
Fair idyl of Theocritus
Or tale by Heliodorus told—
Our home is with the lost and old.

As in the stanza quoted above, "Amor Hesternalis" contains several references to notable poets of the classical era, especially those who wrote more of earthly concerns than of the epic adventures of the gods.   

Rather than dwelling exclusively in the past, the poem ends on a premonition of a rebirth:

We are the specters of past years:
But soon Atlantis from the main
Shall lift; and Sappho bring again,
Risen from ancient brine and tears,
The living Lesbos of past years.

The visions of a resurgent Atlantis and a reinvigorated Lesbos (ancient home of the poetess Sappho) speak to glories yet to come, something we can all hope to foster in ourselves even when the world around us seems to have other plans!

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