Sunday, January 17, 2021

Perseus And Medusa

Read "Perseus And Medusa" at The Eldritch Dark:

This haiku from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) refers to one of best-known fables from Greek mythology, a tale which has been retold in many forms over the centuries. 

What captures my attention is a skillful but subtle use of word soundings.  The most interesting case is that of the end rhymes, starting with the word "stare", transitioning through "glories" and ending with "glare."  That last word is of course built from elements of each of the preceding rhyming words, which gives the rhyme a nuance which is quite effective.

Short as "Perseus And Medusa" is, CAS wasn't done there: he also uses alliteration between "met" and "mirrored" in the first line, and "stare" and "stone" across the first and second lines, and a similar pattern between "glories" and "Gorgon's glare."

That's a lot of technique to pack into a fifteen-word poem, but none of it is mere stylistic bravado: CAS carefully builds the musicality of "Perseus And Medusa" in such a way that when read aloud, the speaker has all the correct queues to capture the poem's offset rhythm.  It's a real standout among CAS' poems in the haiku format.

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