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Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 2 September, 2020 02:08AM
As usual Sawfish makes a great analysis of every detail, but this time I still can't make up my mind! It's easily the most psychedelic thing CAS has ever written, to my memory, and I almost want to say the "uncanonized saint" must be some kind of drug user! If Abhoth had moved to Yondo, and its progeny mated with the native daemons, they still wouldn't produce anything as bizarre as this. Though if it's one of CAS's surreal parodies, as Noivilbo said, then perhaps the answer is a little more simple. I never knew he made anything surreal in the artistic sense, but surely with an imagination as wild as his it would be easy seeing anything appear from nothing.

Though it is true that the last stanza brings ancient maps to mind, with their richly decorated embellishments, and I wouldn't be surprised if CAS liked that sort of thing, given his interest in medieval travelogues.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2 Sep 20 | 02:11AM by Hespire.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 2 September, 2020 10:07AM
Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As usual Sawfish makes a great analysis of every
> detail, but this time I still can't make up my
> mind! It's easily the most psychedelic thing CAS
> has ever written, to my memory, and I almost want
> to say the "uncanonized saint" must be some kind
> of drug user!

WHOA!

You may be onto something, Hespire!

Lessee...

I think you are being overly generous in complimenting my break-down--I got to thinking last night and I believe that I really mauled the first stanza re-interpetation. I got the grammar wrong, to the point that it affects the eventual meaning, and a bunch of other stuff.

However, the longer I thought about the second stanza, the more I thought that it is, indeed, a poetic description of an old map.

> If Abhoth had moved to Yondo, and
> its progeny mated with the native daemons, they
> still wouldn't produce anything as bizarre as
> this. Though if it's one of CAS's surreal
> parodies, as Noivilbo said, then perhaps the
> answer is a little more simple. I never knew he
> made anything surreal in the artistic sense, but
> surely with an imagination as wild as his it would
> be easy seeing anything appear from nothing.
>
> Though it is true that the last stanza brings
> ancient maps to mind, with their richly decorated
> embellishments, and I wouldn't be surprised if CAS
> liked that sort of thing, given his interest in
> medieval travelogues.

Hah!

You know, it could have been as simple as he smoked some cannabis (he seems like the kind of guy who would do this on occasion) and was thinking, looking at an old map, and considered himself "the seer"--just a brief mind trip....

Great discussion!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 9 September, 2020 10:52AM
I'm late to this conversation about "Seer of the Cycles", but fascinated by the comments posted so far, since this is an odd poem indeed...

One slight problem with the version of this poem on The Eldritch Dark is a typo in the third line, where the word "seer" is actually supposed to be "sere", which makes more sense since the context requires an adjective, in this case meaning "dry" or "withered".

While this work certainly is a strange item from CAS' poetic canon, it is also a sonnet, so rooted in a traditional form of metrical poetry. Sonnets are usually considered to present a proposition in the opening stanza (the octet) and a resolution in the closing stanza (the sestet).

Thinking in those terms, it seems as though the first stanza of "Seer of the Cycles" describes a sort of sorcerous landscape, an environment rife with thaumaturgic potential.

In the second stanza, it seems as though we are witnessing the outcome of that potential, with bizarre overflights from "a mad tortoise" and those ungainly "levitating whales".

But that's certainly not a definitive interpretation, and to my mind doesn't quite square with the title of the poem. Perhaps Sawfish is right, that "Seer of the Cycles" is more of a mind trip than anything else!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 9 Sep 20 | 10:59AM by Oldjoe.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 September, 2020 11:57AM
Oldjoe Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'm late to this conversation about "Seer of the
> Cycles", but fascinated by the comments posted so
> far, since this is an odd poem indeed...
>
> One slight problem with the version of this poem
> on The Eldritch Dark is a typo in the third line,
> where the word "seer" is actually supposed to be
> "sere", which makes more sense since the context
> requires an adjective, in this case meaning "dry"
> or "withered".

Aha! I thought so...!

Makes better sense that way, doesn't it, where you have a series of images conjuring up dryness (one coherent image, dried, beached bones), or else you name "the seer" followed by dried images (two disparate images: seer + bleached bones).

>
> While this work certainly is a strange item from
> CAS' poetic canon, it is also a sonnet, so rooted
> in a traditional form of metrical poetry. Sonnets
> are usually considered to present a proposition in
> the opening stanza (the octet) and a resolution in
> the closing stanza (the sestet).
>
> Thinking in those terms, it seems as though the
> first stanza of "Seer of the Cycles" describes a
> sort of sorcerous landscape, an environment rife
> with thaumaturgic potential.
>
> In the second stanza, it seems as though we are
> witnessing the outcome of that potential, with
> bizarre overflights from "a mad tortoise" and
> those ungainly "levitating whales".
>
> But that's certainly not a definitive
> interpretation,

No one has one, Oldjoe! :^)

> and to my mind doesn't quite
> square with the title of the poem. Perhaps
> Sawfish is right, that "Seer of the Cycles" is
> more of a mind trip than anything else!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 14 September, 2020 11:08PM
I sure wouldn't mind discussing another poem, if someone will suggest one.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 20 September, 2020 12:55PM
How about "The Voice in the Pines"?

[www.eldritchdark.com]

This is a subtle poem, but one that is rich with aural description, particularly striking at the end of the first stanza:

The fainter sorrows of the past, that roll
In undertones no ear nor thought defines.


The phrase "undertones no ear nor thought defines" is a wonderful description of sound that exists only at the very edge of human hearing.

CAS is certainly not the only poet who has mused on the passing of Beauty from the world, but his use of aural metaphors is uniquely powerful, such as right at the end of the poem, where the wilting of flowers is associated with a dirge:

Or for the flowers, that, shed
But yesternoon, find now their threnody,
After the dews which were thy silent tears?


Also of note is that CAS downplays the weird and the supernatural in this poem, and yet the merest hints of those elements are present throughout. I think it's a great example of CAS' range as a poet, something quite different than the more boldly fantastic work that he is best known for.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 20 September, 2020 02:09PM
OK!

I will get started on it soon...

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

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