Friday, March 11, 2022

Lives of the Saints

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

(with no apologies to Ogden Nash)

Little find we that is fiery
In the monkish old papyri.
History affords no highlight
On the love-life of the Stylite.

The poem's almost-dedication explicitly references Ogden Nash, the popular writer of humorous verse who was a contemporary of CAS.  Many of Ogden's poems were written in the form of single-stanza quatrains, and CAS adopted that same form for "Lives of the Saints".  

Ogden's poem "The Ostrich" is a good example of his typical approach to light verse:

The ostrich roams the great Sahara.
Its mouth is wide, its neck is narra.
It has such long and lofty legs,
I’m glad it sits to lay its eggs.

I love how CAS mimics Nash's humorous approach to his subject matter, but given that "Lives of the Saints" comes from the pen of the Star-Treader himself, it's hardly surprising that the poem has a somewhat less "crowd pleasing" nature, and even manages to references the Stylites, those religious ascetics who made their homes on the tops of pillars.  The erotic subtext of "Lives of the Saints" makes an interesting comparison to CAS' poem "Two on a Pillar", which I blogged about last month:

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