Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Isle of Circe

Here is another poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) that was not published in his lifetime, nor is it available on The Eldritch Dark, so here's the complete text:

Its final petal gone,
the garden of Circe decays;
mute and sorrowful oblivion
has drunken her philtres at last.

The tresses of the enchantress
have changed their poppies
for a white flower that remains
and grows in a snowy parterre

The swine wander in the sleet
and cannot dig
any root; to the vain sky,
prowless, bellows the vain sea.

Circe dreams not where
Ulysses is in the black years, 
and knows not whither goes
any sorrow of yesteryear.

CAS also wrote a Spanish-language of this poem entitled "La Isla de Circe".

CAS wrote much poetry based on great works of classical literature, more than a few based on Homer's Odyssey, and at least a handful based specifically on Book X of that great epic, where Ulysses and his crew encounter the enchantress Circe.  

"The Isle of Circe" presents a grim vision of her island home long after the famous adventurers have departed for other shores, and the snows of winter have brought an end to the fruitful seasons of years past.  It reads like a metaphor for the modern age and its general disinterest in the romantic pursuit of beauty, where adventure is often equated with mere tourism.  

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