Goto Thread: PreviousNext
Goto:  Message ListNew TopicSearchLog In
Goto Page: Previous1234567AllNext
Current Page: 4 of 7
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."

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 22 September, 2020 11:58AM
Oldjoe Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> How about "The Voice in the Pines"?
>
> [www.eldritchdark.com]
> e-voice-in-the-pines
>
> 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.

This is a *good* one, Oldjoe...

I agree that this is indeed a rephrasing of "But where are the snows of yesteryear?", but focused more narrowly not on all aspects of past events/objects, but the concept of beauty, alone, and in all of its forms.

So it's all about the recollection of past instances of beauty.

There are complexities introduced in his constructions, it seems to me.

He is directly addressing "Beauty", in the aesthetic and spiritual sense of the word. Hence, all of the verbiage of the poem is directed to this amorphous--but positive--personification.

First, I think it's significant--and important, too--to note that he never actually refers to any actual sound, but is in my opinion likening remembrances of past experiences of beauty to very faint sounds. They are, therefore, faint memories, and what's more, they never were expressed or codified in words, being simple, pre-lingual experiences ("....no thought defines.".

In an odd sense, it occurs to me that if we look at it as remembrances being likened to very faint sounds, he is describing beauty, and its recollection, at the most primal level, very much akin to a dog, who has been absent from his master for a long time, and recognizing him instantly by his voice. The dog is matching to a recalled sound "...that roll[s] In undertones no ear nor thought defines...".

Faintly recalled, pre-lingual.

The second stanza is again directly addressing this personified "Beauty".

Now when you combine the first question (about instances of beauty from the long-distant past), followed immediately by the second question (about recently vanished beauty--essentially for petals shed yesterday, with the evening's dew still on them), you have him again both encompassing the *entire* existence of beauty, "Aeons, too, that are dead" versus "flowers that, shed But yesternoon", and in asking which one the ephemeral Beauty is currently thinking about, sadly, implying that both exist to be considered.

Too, note the nifty little pun in the first line:

Quote:
CAS

Beauty, what mournest thou within the pines?

Here, when linked with the title, "The Voice in the Pines", it has a double meaning. The primary meaning is to convey that he's in a forest of pines, but the word "pines", in relation to mourning, fits both grammatically and semantically in this initial line.

Pretty spiffy, if you ask me! In reading his poems in this thread, I am becoming increasingly impressed with his intellect and mastery of the language.



He's really good, isn't he?

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: 24 September, 2020 11:25AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> First, I think it's significant--and important,
> too--to note that he never actually refers to any
> actual sound, but is in my opinion likening
> remembrances of past experiences of beauty to very
> faint sounds. They are, therefore, faint memories,
> and what's more, they never were expressed or
> codified in words, being simple, pre-lingual
> experiences ("....no thought defines.".

I love this analysis Sawfish, as it gets at what makes "The Voice in the Pines" such a notable poem. CAS very skillfully uses suggestion throughout this work, which I think is quite a difficult trick to pull off without losing the reader's interest.

At first blush, it seems as though this could not have been created by the same man that wrote "The Hashish-Eater" and "Nero", and yet it demonstrates just how versatile a poet he really was.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 24 September, 2020 12:29PM
I'm really enjoying this, Oldjoe, and will be willing to look at more of his poetry

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: The Sojourner of Worlds (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 08:45PM
I often wondered if I might be the only person in the world reading your blog. I tend to visit it once or twice a week ever since you shared it on... Reddit, if I'm not mistaken?

By the way, LibriVox has some really enjoyable readings of his poetry. I'm particularly fond of Ms Mary Ann Spiegel. What a lovely voice.

[librivox.org]

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 26 September, 2020 11:44AM
The Sojourner of Worlds Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I often wondered if I might be the only person in
> the world reading your blog. I tend to visit it
> once or twice a week ever since you shared it
> on... Reddit, if I'm not mistaken?

Thanks for the note about my blog devoted to CAS' poetry! I've had comments from a few different folks regarding the blog, so hopefully you're not the only person reading it ;)

And thanks for the link to the CAS material on LibriVox. I haven't been much of an audiobook fan to date, but I am curious to hear some of the readings you linked to!

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: The Sojourner of Worlds (IP Logged)
Date: 26 September, 2020 07:45PM
Oh, I haven't been much of an audiobook fan either but a lovely female voice is a lovely female voice. What can I say. I'm a weak man, alas.

I am however much of a fan of Smith's poetry, it's just that I'm waiting for you guys to get to some of my favourites.

I suppose Tolometh is kinda cool, and describing the nuclear mushroom as 'casting shadow on the skies' sounds almost as appropriate as Oppenheimer's famous quote.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 27 September, 2020 12:44PM
Please anyone who is reading this thread feel free to suggest specific poems from CAS that we should discuss. I have my favorites, but I'm really interested in learning which of his poems have appealed to other readers!

For the time being, I'll suggest "Desert Dweller", my personal favorite among all of CAS' poems:

[www.eldritchdark.com]

Unfortunately, the version of the poem here on The Eldritch Dark does have a couple of significant typos, which I noted in a related blog post:

[www.desertdweller.net]

I'm curious if anyone else is as moved by "Desert Dweller" as I am? I really think it's one of the most accomplished poems in English that I have ever read, exemplified by the powerful closing stanzas:

For them, the planted fields, their veriest boon;
For me, the verdure of inviolate grass
In far mirages vanishing at noon.

For them, the mellowed strings, the strident brass,
The cry of love, the clangor of great horns,
The thunder-burdened ways where thousands pass.

For me, the silence welling from dark urns,
From fountains past the utmost world and sun...
To overflow some day the desert bourns...

And take the sounding cities one by one.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 28 September, 2020 03:25PM
Sorry for not participating as much as I used to. These are tiring days for me filled with family matters I wish I didn't have to be involved with. The Pines poem was beautiful however, and underlines something I think CAS fans don't acknowledge enough: CAS' natural surroundings as his influence. He wrote many poems about woods and rivers and other natural places, and several of his stories take place amid the Sierra Nevada mountains. I've read in several reviews and critical analyses how people are surprised to learn that Smith was born and raised in some obscure countryside without any electricity, but I never understood this surprise myself, when he clearly wrote like a man of nature and self-dependence.

Anyway, as for poetry suggestions, why not this unique piece?

[www.eldritchdark.com]

Goto Page: Previous1234567AllNext
Current Page: 4 of 7


Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
Top of Page