Boy Publishes More Poems


Clark Ashton Smith, "the boy poet of the Sierras," is once more in the public eye with a remarkable book of verse entitled Ebony and Crystal. The poems show great imaginative power, though far beyond the taste or sympathies of the average lover of poetry.

George Sterling opens the volume with a brief preface in which he hails it as an "accouchement of the immortal." It is that or nothing. What is one unversed in the archaic or obsolete to make of such expressions as these? "Irrespirable verge," "a flapping spirit," "arts of daily glut" or "endless rutilance." These quotations are from a long poem in blank verse, entitled "The Hashish-Eater," written in the style of "A Wine of Wizardry." In it young Smith fairly exhausts the weirdly awful.

There is much beauty in the book, however, and the reader is unlikely to forget such lines as "Blue lilies of an Atlantean [sic] Spring." "Pallid and pure as jaspers from the moon." "Or the black crystal from the eyes of Death." "An Autumn like the marble sleep of Death." The book abounds with such imaginative lines, and is ultra-pessimistic in note, with a highly decadent atmosphere. It would have delighted Poe and Baudelaire, whose influence is plain on almost every page. A volume more at variance with the spirit of the poetry of today would be hard to conceive of [,] a fact that may contribute to its permanent value.

Ebony and Crystal is issued in a limited edition, and may be obtained from the local booksellers.

From: San Francisco Examiner, December 17, 1922, p. 20
Source: Scott Connors

Top of Page