Saturday, December 25, 2021

High Surf: Monterey Bay

Read "High Surf: Monterey Bay" at The Eldritch Dark:

Although this poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) has a contemporary setting on the California coast, the closing stanza looks forward into the future, so that hints of the (fictional) continent of Zothique can be seen:

This was the bay the slant-browed fishers sailed
In boats of raddled reeds; and this shall be
The shrunken salt-thick water seined by none
When the last sun, a red and rusty hinge
Torn from the sky, lets down eternity.

Those last few lines anticipate the poem "Zothique", which CAS wrote shortly after "High Surf: Monterey Bay". Note the first stanza of "Zothique":

He who has trod the shadows of Zothique
And looked upon the coal-red sun oblique,
Henceforth returns to no anterior land,
But haunts a later coast
Where cities crumble in the black sea-sand
And dead gods drink the brine.

It's fascinating to read "High Surf: Monterey Bay" in this context, as a fingerpost pointing the way to the greatest of all of CAS' prose creations, "the last continent, beneath a dim sun and sad heavens where the stars come out in terrible brightness before eventide."* 

*From the introduction to the short story "The Empire of the Necromancers".

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