Monday, January 31, 2022


This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) exists in both English and Spanish versions (the latter is titled "Añoranza").  Neither version was published in his lifetime, and neither is available on The Eldritch Dark, so here's what remains of the  English text (part of the surviving manuscript was burned, so the third and fourth stanzas are incomplete):

Beholding the change of the autumnal azure,
reading in the suns a funereal sign,
hearing the plaintive birds in their flight
to the end of the ultimate heaven, 
I have felt a breath of bitterness
from the wings of beauty.

Have the pinions of ravens darkened the field
in their passage from a place of ripe corruptions?
What baleful shadow enshrouds my heart? ...
In this poisonous potion
that my heart has drunken
what verdigris is melted? ...

Sagacious witch, whence comes this melancholia
that has embittered the vintages of mutation?
Is it born from the nocturnal 
pole of Saturn?
[or fro]m a most beloved bosom
[...] have kissed?

[...]al wilderness?
[...]thal poison?
[...]s of sorrows? ...

Despite the fact that the full text of this poem does not survive, what does remain is very much up to CAS' high standard, full of darkly evocative language that truly sings.  The opening of the second stanza is practically breathtaking: "Have the pinions of ravens darkened the field / in their passage from a place of ripe corruptions?"

At this point, I really have to express grateful acknowledgement to Hippocampus Press and editors S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz for their work in compiling and publishing The Complete Poetry and Translations of Clark Ashton Smith.  It's only through this first complete collection of CAS' poetry that general readers have access to previously unknown work from CAS like "Melancholia".  And I for one am very glad to have the opportunity to read these hidden gems from The Bard of Auburn!

No comments:

Post a Comment