Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Knoll

Read "The Knoll" at The Eldritch Dark:

This is another poem from The Hill of Dionysus cycle authored by Clark Ashton Smith (CAS), celebrating his friendship with the dancer Madelynne Greene and the poet Eric Barker.  As with many of the poems in that cycle, CAS paints a bucolic picture evoking the glories of Classical Greek mythology:

From this high knoll against the brine
Like those about Dodona's shrine:
For here Apollo still is god
And living dryads tread the sod
And love is Grecian and divine.

As I read through CAS' poems from the early 1940's (many of which were included in the published version of The Hill of Dionysus), I keep encountering the idealism that the author associates with the world of Greek myth.  With this particular poem, he exalts that upon the knoll "dwells the fair antiquity / Glad and august and pagan still."  

I am particularly intrigued by the celebration of the pagan.  All of this plays into my evolving theory of CAS' mature point-of-view, which it seems to me had moved far beyond the cosmic visions of his youthful works.  

In modern terms, this might be termed an "uncivilized" viewpoint, an evolution from Robinson Jeffers' philosophy of "inhumanism" (with which CAS was familiar).

That's a larger topic for another blog post, but "The Knoll" seems like a work that reveals something interesting about the man who wrote the words, and that is worth exploring in more depth.

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