Saturday, January 9, 2021

The Sciapod

Read "The Sciapod" at The Eldritch Dark:

With this haiku, Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) expanded his series of short poems about legendary creatures, in this case focusing on the wonderful sciapod, more commonly known as the monopod.  

I first encountered these magical creatures in C.S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952), and they have entranced me ever since.  There's something oddly elegant abut a one-legged creature who can rest in the shade of his own appendage, an elegance that CAS enhances with his closing phrase noting that the Sciapod can also root "his tresses in the sod."


  1. CAS painted a picture of a pair of sciapods, male and female. That might be worth posting here!

    Also, I bet CAS' depiction of sciapods might be influenced by Gustave Flaubert's novel The Temptation of St. Anthony, which also described them as tree-like:

    "The Sciapods:

    "Fettered to the earth by our hair, long as lianas, we vegetate beneath the shelter of our feet, broad as parasols; and the light comes to us through the thickness of our heels. No annoyances for us, no work! The head as low as possible—That is the secret of happiness.""

    CAS was a great admirer of Flaubert. I think there are some strong similarities between their work.

    1. I have not read Flaubert myself, so I missed that connection. However, it makes perfect sense, since the "Strange Miniatures" section of Spells and Philtres also contains a haiku named "Feast of St. Anthony", which clearly must have been inspired by La Tentation de Saint Antoine.