Monday, March 21, 2022

The Song of Songs

This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) was unpublished in his lifetime, and is not available on The Eldritch Dark, so here's the complete text:

Purest aroma, and amber exquisite
Savorous honey that the bees have sucked;
The immaculate whiteness of the fleece of sheep;
The sanguine freshness of pomegranate-flowers,

The curling petals of the perfume iris,
eyes filled with ____ and ardor, vermilion n__ntels
Kisses of fire; amorous complaint
Caresses of the lover and the beloved

fruition of delight; fountain of life;
reflection cast by ____ luminaries;
intensest passion, born interiorly;
the celestial hymn that opens from human hearts...
such images the saddened soul will dream 
at any mention of the Song of Songs.

As seen in the text above, there are some gaps in the manuscript, indicating that this poem was a left in an incomplete state by the author.

It's unusual to find a poem from CAS that directly references a Biblical text.  And yet given the very earthy nature of the Song of Songs (aka Song of Solomon), it's not necessarily surprising to find that CAS would be inspired by this particular work.  His own metaphorical language echoes that of the King James version, part of which reads:

Behold, thou art fair, my love;
Behold, thou art fair;
Thou hast doves' eyes
Within thy locks:
Thy hair is as a flock of goats,
That appear from mount Gilead.
Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn,
Which came up from the washing;
Whereof every one bear twins,
And none is barren among them.

CAS' own incomplete poem is a rather minor work from his poetic corpus, but interesting nonetheless as a reminder of his great knowledge of classical source texts, including The Bible itself.

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