Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Not Theirs the Cypress-Arch

Read "Not Theirs the Cypress-Arch" at The Eldritch Dark:

There is a significant typo in the fourth line of this poem as rendered at The Eldritch Dark; the correct line reads:

And searing splendors of the doomsday sun:

This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) is a powerful metaphor for the burdens of history (both personal and societal) that we can never leave behind: "They rise, they gather about us now, / Crowding the quiet day."

The author really gets to the crux of the matter with the opening lines of the second stanza: "To us, entombed in time, / Asleep within a vaster vault".  That's both a striking image and a grim distillation of the human condition, a potent demonstration of the power of poetry to say much with not so many words.

This poem was written in 1951, when CAS was in his late fifties, and the maturity of the artist's vision is certainly on display in this work.  Thematically, it's not so different from verse that he wrote as a much younger man, but his ability to use words with a scalpel-like precision had clearly advanced to the point where there is no wasted verbiage at all in "Not Theirs the Cypress-Arch".

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