Tuesday, December 14, 2021

No Stranger Dream

Read "No Stranger Dream" at The Eldritch Dark:


This is a remarkably effective love poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS), casting his beloved in the fantastic role of a great beauty from the deep legends of myth.  

The poem takes the form of a sonnet, and CAS skillfully works the volta: the opening octet presents a portrait of one so lovely as to be able to call "The feet that flying Lemures have drawn / To years beyond the darkness and the dawn".

After the turn, the closing sestet focuses on the supplicant, that "the pilgrim of dark shrines" who desires only 

To watch, in a place of summer grass and pines,
The spangled spectrum somnolently spun
In your deep hair by the seaward-turning sun.

CAS wrote many a romantic verse, some of which I have found to be rather uninspired.  "No Stranger Dream" is a significant exception, as the poet draws on his interests in dark fantasy and mythology to craft a poem that exults the power of beauty and love to contest even the arcane powers of the restless spirits. 


  1. That really is a lovely poem. That last stanza contrasts with the more grim tone of the rest of the poem. I like that contrast!

  2. I agree: the shift in tone is deftly handled in this poem. It's a really impressive work on multiple levels, which as ever makes me wonder why more people don't seem to know CAS' poetry. Perhaps just because it is poetry, and who reads that anymore?

  3. His love poetry is great, it's just that his early writings are a bit too vanilla, lacking that cosmic perspective he's so famous for. And even this poem starts in a very vanilla fashion before it moves to bigger things.

    I don't know if it was Baudelaire or something else, but he eventually found his necromantic glass.

    1. You may well be right that Baudelaire provided the inspiration that took CAS' verse to new heights. I'm currently reading the Hippocampus Press edition of CAS' letters with Samuel Loveman, and in those letters Smith frequently expresses admiration for that greatest of the French decadents!