Saturday, January 1, 2022

Poèmes d'amour

This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) was unpublished in his lifetime, and is not available on The Eldritch Dark, so here's the complete text:

She said: "They're beautiful, but bad for you, your poems."
I thought that I had paid her a compliment
In well-timed verse designed to praise and woo,
And was taken quite aback.

                                         Yet maybe she was right,
Or partly right at least.  We poets turn
Our slender loves to swollen verse, and thus
The verse builds up the complex of our loves,
Refining and exasperating them
Ad infinitum, past the scope of nature,
How much is love, how much is poesy?
But it's a pretty game and hardly matters
Beyond the morgue, when toothless maggots eat
The hand that wrote, the fingers that caressed
Or, peradventure, failed to make the curves.
We only hope the poem, by some chance, 
May last a little longe than the amour.

The French title of this poem can be translated into English as "Love Poems".  And it provides an interesting insight into CAS' own feelings regarding his romantic poetry, much of which I've found to be rather mundane (there are, of course, notable exceptions).  It's no surprise that the poet chose not to publish this particular work, since it might provide a little too much of the behind-the-scenes "sausage making!"

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