Thursday, June 10, 2021

Field Behind the Abatoir

Read "Field Behind the Abatoir" at The Eldritch Dark:

This short poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) is built on a wonderful use of alliteration on the letter "L", which ends on the tricky word "Thicklier".  What's remarkable is how CAS is able to use such an unmusical word so effectively: by itself, "Thicklier" seems about as unpoetic as an English word can be.

His strategy is to use alliterative phrases in combination with end rhymes on the first and third lines:

  • First line: "mantled bones lie low"
  • Second line: "grasses lush"
  • Third line: "Thicklier grow"

There's magic in that last line, where "Thicklier" completes the alliteration, and "grow" completes the end rhyme.  The short length of the haiku form calls for economic and thoughtful diction, and CAS succeeds marvelously in "Field Behind the Abatoir", where every single word choice contributes to the success of the complete work.

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