As with the poem "Averoigne" (which I blogged about yesterday), this poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) concerns one of the imaginary realms that he created for his work in prose, in this case the decadent future continent beneath a dying sun.
The Zothique cycle of stories contains much of CAS' very best short fiction, and this poem captures all of the dark, exotic mystery that makes the setting so fantastic, for it is:
Where cities crumble in the black sea-sand
And dead gods drink the brine.
One of the most appealing aspects of the Zothique stories is the idea that so much of human history lies buried and forgotten, largely ignored by Earth's last inhabitants as they go about their grim lives. Little of that history emerges in the stories themselves, but that weighted presence is continuously present, with its suggestion that of all humanity's achievements in science and technology will ultimately be obscured by the sands of time, and black magic will reassert its power over our lives. It's a sinister vision of the last days of the human race, but a beautiful one nonetheless.
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