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A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 11 August, 2020 05:11PM
In another thread on this forum, several folks expressed interest in diving deeper into a discussion of CAS' wonderful poetry. So let's do it!

The aim is not so much to dwell on technical aspects of the poetry (meter, rhyme, and other principles of versification), but more to respond to the subjects, images, and the rich language that CAS handled with such mastery.

Let's start with "To the Nightshade":

[www.eldritchdark.com]

Surprisingly, this early poem from CAS wasn't collected until after his death, in one of Roy Squires' letterpress editions (The Palace of Jewels). But it's a great poem, and well worth reading and discussing!

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 11 August, 2020 05:30PM
I blogged about this poem a couple of years ago:

[www.desertdweller.net]

In that post, I noted the wonderful phrase "A hideous and fruitful wedlock", which seems to play on the fact that the fruit of the Atropa belladonna is toxic to humans.

I also find resonance in the very last words of the poem: "some place of sacrifice to monstrous gods". That phrase expands the scope of the poem to incorporate the powers of the divine, but in a decidedly baleful manner. It's a dark poem for sure, but CAS' ability to shift the mere description of a poisonous plant into the broader frame of the superhuman injects the poem with a powerful malevolence which is both thrilling and horrifying!

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 11 August, 2020 06:10PM
Yes, I have read it twice now. Never saw it before. I don't have time for a longer comment, ... but it is an intense poem alright. Chilling and beautiful at the same time. It feels many-layered and subtly convoluted in cycles. I am sure it can be interpreted in several ways. I feel the wind of Oblivion, the horrible shall pass, terrible deeds will be completely forgotten, evaporate like it never happened. Like wasted illusions. And in its place Beauty shall rise instead ... But there will be some subtle signs still, because the past always leaves marks, sometimes inscrutable, and Creation becomes more and more refined over time in its infinite Complexity of composition. Until Beauty and Terror cannot be easily separated anymore.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 11 August, 2020 07:33PM
Quote:
Knygatin
Until Beauty and Terror cannot be easily separated anymore.

Smith revelled in this sentiment. Many of his poems, especially this one, admire the things in nature that are inimical to our physical wellbeing. I like that amid the safe (and truly beautiful) flowers there are eerie and even dangerous mysteries to challenge our flow of thoughts, a stinging insect or a poisonous berry.

The deadly nightshade is an astounding flower, with its somber petals and its void-like berries. I can easily see the connection with sinister rituals devoted to gods beyond human worship. The flowers rise like hierophants among the other plants, without any heed for what humans want or need.

This is also one of Smith's many poems that end with the perfect climactic punch, climbing up from the plant itself to a strange and monstrous scene! Certainly this makes a good bridge from our earthly soil to the cosmic wildness of his "Hashish-Eater"!



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11 Aug 20 | 07:39PM by Hespire.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 12 August, 2020 01:04AM
Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I can easily see the connection with sinister
> rituals devoted to gods beyond human worship. The
> flowers rise like hierophants among the other
> plants, without any heed for what humans want or
> need.

As a symbol, yes. But in reality, it can't suddenly rise up in shape as a result of a few sinister rituals, the nightshade must have developed slowly through evolution. I tend to analyze things down to matter of fact component parts, and I see beauty in that too, because natural things finally fall in pace in a majestic way. Because of this approach I don't always get poems like this immediately, because they work in archetypes and symbols, and mythology. I am a realist in thinking, in contrast to symbolist.

The poem is also potentially attractive as a pure fantasy, the nightshade filled with conscious evil spirit battening on sacrifice, but the poem is not constructed as a fantasy, it is more a serious expression of subtle mysticism.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 12 August, 2020 01:25AM
You make the assumption that I'm not also a gardener and a lover of the material sciences. Biology in particular is one of my favorite subjects, and due to my obsession with learning about something as it is now and how it developed over time, I'm quite aware of the impersonal process of evolution. But I'm not just this-or-that-minded, I'm able to look at things in different ways depending on the situation. As this isn't a university biology lab, I tried instead to follow the spirit of the poem as I interpreted it. Smith himself had a tendency to downplay materialism and science in his work and private letters, and although I don't always agree with him, I usually leave all that at the door whenever I log on here.

Your interpretations and your point of view are welcome, as there's no wrong way to interpret a poem (you can absolutely view this piece as pure fantasy if that's what makes sense to you), and a realist interpretation of a potentially symbolic poem sounds interesting to me, but if I'm going to be a thorn in anybody's side because I didn't interpret something in the way they prefer, then I'd rather stop right here and enjoy these poems privately.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12 Aug 20 | 01:27AM by Hespire.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 12 August, 2020 02:01AM
Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> but if I'm going to
> be a thorn in anybody's side because I didn't
> interpret something in the way they prefer, then
> I'd rather stop right here and enjoy these poems
> privately.

I am sorry, I don't understand how you came to this from my post. I was merely comparing my perspective with others' who are more used to reading poetry. I don't have a natural eye for poetry, because I was not raised with it. But I can still appreciate it in some ways.

I think it is probably better if I stand aside from this thread and simply read it. Because I make a complete fool of myself.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 12 August, 2020 04:33AM
Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> if I'm going to
> be a thorn in anybody's side ...

Not in the least. No risk of that whatsoever. Please continue the discussion.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 12 August, 2020 08:28AM
Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Until Beauty and Terror cannot be easily separated
> anymore.
>
> Smith revelled in this sentiment. Many of his
> poems, especially this one, admire the things in
> nature that are inimical to our physical
> wellbeing. I like that amid the safe (and truly
> beautiful) flowers there are eerie and even
> dangerous mysteries to challenge our flow of
> thoughts, a stinging insect or a poisonous berry.


I think these comments from Knygatin and Hespire do a great job of placing "To the Nightshade" into the broader context of CAS' work as a whole, including his work in forms beyond poetry. To some degree, this touches on issues that Steve Behrends has raised in his essay "Clark Ashton Smith: Cosmicist or Misanthrope?", which can be read here on The Eldritch Dark:

[www.eldritchdark.com]

I've never completely agreed with Behrends' conclusions in that essay, summarized in his closing statement:

Quote:
Steve Behrends
In short, for the true cosmicist Lovecraft, there was the immensity of the physical universe, while for Clark Ashton Smith, only the sense of distance and isolation from his fellow men.

That conclusion does seem to make a connection to Hespire's point that "Many of his (CAS') poems, especially this one, admire the things in nature that are inimical to our physical wellbeing."

It's interesting to speculate as to exactly why CAS had such admiration, but I still feel that labelling him a misanthrope is missing the target a bit, and feels like an over-simplification.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 12 August, 2020 10:42AM
Maybe going line-by-line, to elicit various responses to what the words mean to our readers. It's two sentences and perhaps explaining each sentence separately, with a conclusion at the end, might work.

First, an image to work from:

Blossom:
[en.wikipedia.org]

Fruit:
[en.wikipedia.org]

Let's see...


Sullen and sinister, darkly dull of leaf,
Thou rearest amid the brighter flowers,
Like a presage of evil in dreams of joyance—
Evil of beauty thy blossoms,
And purple like the agony of Death,
And their fruit as its livid consummation.


A direct poetic address to the actual flower, itself, as it might be seen by a by-passer as s/he walks thru a garden of otherwise innocuous flowers.

The observer then links his/her knowledge about the toxic nature of the flower to a general observation of ironic comparison to a foreshadowing of jarring evil in an otherwise benevolent existence.

CAS expands this initial observation and association with evil amidst the ordinary--even beautiful--to the shade of the blossom, which he portrays as "funereal", and further links the appearance of the fruit to an implied physical description of being very much like postmortem lividity, or even advanced corruption.

With this developed image he now extends the metaphor...

Such a flower art thou
As might spring from the rotting of ancient sin,
Its unavoidable latter confession,
Or from the corroded altar-stone,
Now merged with the blood of its victims—
A hideous and fruitful wedlock—
In some place of sacrifice to monstrous gods.


He now compares it to the idea of primal, perhaps universal, sin, by creating the image that the flower is rooted in the very idea of sin, and hence evil. He further observes that the visual manifestation of the flower is like a stain or stigmata that is apparent to all, and hence "unavoidable" or undeniable. Like evident sin, it's out there to see, and one can "see" it for what it is.

It's worthy of note that this particular comparison to sin is intangible--comparing the flower to a concept, and not to another tangible object. This is because he goes on to form a final, concrete comparison.

He now focuses on the concept of human or animal sacrifice--although I think we can safely assume human, this being CAS, after all!--as a concrete example of sin. Here. too, CAS implies that flower is rooted in a physical manifestation of evil--this time in a sort of imagined humus of years of blood-letting onto an altar stone. And to top it off, this is no Abrahamic deity, seeking its--AHEM!--just worship, but is more along the lines of Thasaidon and his ilk.


WHEW!

OK, to me the poem is in the form of a standard poetic observation, comparison, rumination, and development of a metaphoric analogy where the the poet receives an initial impression from a fairly commonplace object and extends it for philosophic resonance.

What say ye?

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: 12 August, 2020 09:32PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> OK, to me the poem is in the form of a standard
> poetic observation, comparison, rumination, and
> development of a metaphoric analogy where the the
> poet receives an initial impression from a fairly
> commonplace object and extends it for philosophic
> resonance.

Your detailed reading of "To the Nightshade" is very illuminating Sawfish, and your analysis highlights some points I had not really considered before.

It seems to me that CAS' utilization of the commonplace to draw a larger picture incorporating philosophic elements was a technique that he used quite frequently throughout his body of poetry. I think this particular poem is notable for how elegantly he achieves that in a mere thirteen lines.

This is a great discussion - it's fascinating to see how different readers hone in on different aspects of a work. It's one of the reasons that I think both poetry and instrumental music can be so rewarding, since there is generally no absolutely correct interpretation of an individual work, and each experience of such a work can reveal new insights.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 12 August, 2020 10:46PM
I promise not to hammer the next poems so heavily, OldJoe! I seldom read poetry, do not feel comfortable with it, and I used that particular technique to get my mind into a poetic appreciation mode.

Could I ask to as Tolometh to the poems we might discuss at some point?

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: Noivilbo (IP Logged)
Date: 12 August, 2020 11:44PM
I think “To the Nightshade” is aesthetically aligned to the Symbolists and Decadents, and that its subject is a dark and exceedingly beautiful prostitute in a brothel. Le violet est très sexy, très fleurs du mal.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 13 August, 2020 11:00AM
Noivilbo Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I think “To the Nightshade” is aesthetically
> aligned to the Symbolists and Decadents, and that
> its subject is a dark and exceedingly beautiful
> prostitute in a brothel. Le violet est très sexy,
> très fleurs du mal.


Oui, mais est-ce qu'elle vous tue, aussi?

;^)

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: 13 August, 2020 11:34AM
It's very difficult for me to get my head into a more receptive/appreciative mood for poetry. It is much more demanding, and looking at a very long poem is daunting, like coming upon the Great Basin in a wagon train. You are tempted to panic and go back to Kentucky, or wherever.

Do others here have this difficulty?

When I looked at OldJoe's recommended poem, I had to approach it as if I was approaching a piece of Java or C++ code that had been written by someone else, and I had inherited the maintenance/enhancement of it. I had to examine it minutely, and in small pieces to try to understand what was going on, basically.

Turned out to be kinda fun, though.

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: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 13 August, 2020 12:14PM
Sawfish, your meticulous exploration of the poem was brilliant and easy to follow. The nightshade as an agent or ritualized object for the dark god Thasaidon rings too true with me! I think our interpretations were close in some ways, thoguh mine was far more generic. You've inspired me to follow the lines much more closely.

I've enjoyed everyone's interpretations, including Knygatin's. My only issue was that I thought I was being criticized for not following the same interpretation as another, but Knygatin cleared that up quickly. A realist or fantastic approach to these poems would be interesting. And anyway, Smith was clearly a fantasist and had an eye for realism within fantasy.

As to the subject of appreciation, I can't properly call myself an admirer of poetry, because I've only delved into the works of Poe, Baudelaire, Shelley, Keats, and Smith, with a little Milton. I would love to expand my tastes and knowledge, but for now I don't feel much difficulty in enjoying them. I may be barbaric, and I know that a true expert would understand these better than I can, but it must mean something that I can follow Smith's flow of impressions with a certain blind intuition. Perhaps I share certain philosophic or imaginative inclinations with him.

Edit: Sawfish mentioned "Tolometh." That could be a good eldritch follow-up to "Nightshade", expanding on the image of gods and altars!



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 13 Aug 20 | 12:19PM by Hespire.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 13 August, 2020 03:32PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> When I looked at OldJoe's recommended poem, I had
> to approach it as if I was approaching a piece of
> Java or C++ code that had been written by someone
> else, and I had inherited the
> maintenance/enhancement of it. I had to examine it
> minutely, and in small pieces to try to understand
> what was going on, basically.
>
> Turned out to be kinda fun, though.

You and I must both be software developers! Although these days I do my spelunking in Javacript and Python (I do miss Java sometimes...)

But your experience of having to examine a poem incrementally in order to gain an appreciation and/or understanding is not so unusual, I think. I read a fair amount of poetry, and my own approach is similar to yours. Poetry does not have to follow the rules of prose or of spoken language, so it often requires extra effort to really wrap your head around it. But for good poetry, the effort can be well worth it.

I often compare poetry to instrumental music, and think of the time I first heard Thelonious Monk playing piano. My first reaction was "What the hell?" But after a while, I began to hear where Monk was coming from, and now I love his music!

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Noivilbo (IP Logged)
Date: 13 August, 2020 05:53PM
Ces fleurs maléfiques portent le VD. Maintenez la social distance! BTW, CAS wrote another poem "Berries of the Deadly Nightshade" in which a similar but more subtle impishness can be detected.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 13 August, 2020 07:58PM
Oldjoe Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > When I looked at OldJoe's recommended poem, I
> had
> > to approach it as if I was approaching a piece
> of
> > Java or C++ code that had been written by
> someone
> > else, and I had inherited the
> > maintenance/enhancement of it. I had to examine
> it
> > minutely, and in small pieces to try to
> understand
> > what was going on, basically.
> >
> > Turned out to be kinda fun, though.
>
> You and I must both be software developers!

Hah!

I've been retired for nearly 7 years, however, and no messing with languages/programs.

> Although these days I do my spelunking in
> Javacript and Python (I do miss Java
> sometimes...)

Trash collection was pretty nice, as was automatic memory alloc/dealloc.

>
> But your experience of having to examine a poem
> incrementally in order to gain an appreciation
> and/or understanding is not so unusual, I think.
> I read a fair amount of poetry, and my own
> approach is similar to yours. Poetry does not have
> to follow the rules of prose or of spoken
> language, so it often requires extra effort to
> really wrap your head around it. But for good
> poetry, the effort can be well worth it.
>
> I often compare poetry to instrumental music, and
> think of the time I first heard Thelonious Monk
> playing piano. My first reaction was "What the
> hell?" But after a while, I began to hear where
> Monk was coming from, and now I love his music!

Same here.

This is a really good site!

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: 14 August, 2020 10:51AM
Noivilbo Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Ces fleurs maléfiques portent le VD. Maintenez la
> social distance! BTW, CAS wrote another poem
> "Berries of the Deadly Nightshade" in which a
> similar but more subtle impishness can be
> detected.

Since I'm reading through CAS' poetry in chronological order, I had not yet gotten to his works in the haiku form. But after reading your message, I was prompted to do so, and your phrase "subtle impishness" really captures what CAS accomplished in those three short lines.

Here's the link to "Berries of the Deadly Nightshade" for those that need a dose of impishness!

[www.eldritchdark.com]

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 16 August, 2020 04:02PM
Personally I think a poem is often closer to a painting than to music (unless it is a narrative poem). Music is always connected with time, for music cannot be experienced without the medium of time. A poem like "To the Nightshade" or shorter, in which the first line and last line connect (and every line in between), forming a whole unit than can be experienced in an instant, is beyond time; once you got all the lines sorted and placed down in your head, the lines blend into an alchemic essence of singular insight.

I really enjoyed the discussion of "To the Nightshade", several interesting viewpoints that enriched the poem for me. This must be one of the finest topic initiatives and threads in the history of Eldritch Dark. Gutår! Cheers! to ye all Bacchi and Apollonian acolytes! Boyd must be proud of us all today, to see the enlighted aftermath of his legacy.

I eagerly await the opening premiere of "Tolometh", and to dive down into the Atlantean depths. Or perhaps some less demanding challenge, or whatever poem suits the moment. I expect that every one of CAS's poems will eventually find their ways into this thread, down the decades and centuries.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Noivilbo (IP Logged)
Date: 16 August, 2020 06:19PM
I share your thoughts on the painterly quality of his poems, Knygatin. Reading them in a series can be like strolling through a gallery. The music in the museum is always present but is sometimes incidental to the imagery.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Noivilbo (IP Logged)
Date: 16 August, 2020 06:34PM
In discussing "Tolometh" it might be worthwhile to also consider "Ougabalys", an earlier version of the poem.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 12:12PM
Great suggestion Noivilbo about discussing "Ougabalys" and "Tolometh" together, since they represent two versions of essentially the same work. I blogged about "Ougabalys" a little earlier this year:

[www.desertdweller.net]

It is quite interesting to see how CAS improved the poem when he re-wrote it as "Tolometh". He expanded it with a sixth stanza, but also discarded the weakest stanza from "Ougabalys", so "Tolometh" has two stanzas that are completely new.

The abandoned stanza from "Ougabalys" is this one:

Before me, many a chorister
Made offering of alien myrrh,
And copper-bearded sailors brought,
From isles of ever-foaming seas,
Enormous lumps of ambergris
And corals intricately wrought.


It's not bad as such, but doesn't really add anything new compared to the preceding stanza, which also detailed the parade of supplicants before the throne.

What's especially interesting is the different endings between the two works. In "Ougabalys", the poem ends with the drowned dreams of the mighty god, giving that poem the theme of "all things must pass."

"Tolometh" ends on quite a different note:

And yet, in ways outpassing thought,
Men worship me that know me not.
They work my will. I shall arise
In that last dawn of atom-fire,
To stand upon the planet's pyre
And cast my shadow on the skies.


That's a different theme altogether: now we are warned of the coming resurrection of the drowned god. The consequences of that rebirth will be grim indeed, with Tolometh standing "upon the planet's pyre" and rising up to "cast my shadow on the skies."

It's fascinating to see how CAS took a good poem ("Ougabalys") and turned it into a great poem ("Tolometh") while retaining about 80% of the original content.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 12:44PM
This is terrific! A fun comparison!

There are two additions that stick out and really change the tone...

Ougabalys, while apparently a menacing-looking god, what with three horns and one eye, is nowhere identified directly with evil; however, Tolometh is:

The star-born evil that I brought
Through all the ancient land was wrought:
All women took my yoke of shame;
I reared, through sumless centuries,
The thrones of hell-black wizardries,


So this is a *very bad* god, indeed.

But, inexplicably, he goes under with Poseidonis...

The final stanza is very, very appealing to the mid 20thC reader. I can remember being scared witless over a full-up nuclear exchange--pretty much everyone was and few talked about it, treating it with the same fearful reticence as cancer. I even have a very funny anecdote from the late 70s, when I was living near Vandenberg AFB.

So what CAS very effectively does is sort of amp up the notion of undying evil: a formerly potent god focused entirely on evil, again senses himself recharged by the political situation of the mid 20th C, with the possible/probable result of Tolometh's resurrection and apotheosis during a cataclysmic nuclear exchange--which, as mentioned, was on everyone's mind.

Tolometh is by far the better, much more powerful poem, in my opinion.

A fun topic!

Gosh. Tolometh, being from the stars, apparently, and pretty much evil through and through, is hoping to rise from the ocean floor, like HPL's You-Know-Who...

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: 23 August, 2020 11:35AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> So what CAS very effectively does is sort of amp
> up the notion of undying evil: a formerly potent
> god focused entirely on evil, again senses himself
> recharged by the political situation of the mid
> 20th C, with the possible/probable result of
> Tolometh's resurrection and apotheosis during a
> cataclysmic nuclear exchange--which, as mentioned,
> was on everyone's mind.

That's a very interesting angle that I hadn't considered. Although I can't find any information to nail down the exact date of composition, "Tolometh" first appeared in Spells & Philtres, published in 1958, so of course that places it solidly in the post-war era of atomic brinksmanship. CAS apparently invented the name Tolometh, and in doing so he may indeed have been re-birthing a maleficent divinity of nuclear chaos!

Interestingly, a simple Google search reveals that the Marvel Comics universe has a "Tolometh" character, whose origin is described thus:

Quote:
It is unknown when exactly he came into being but he was the ruler of a large city during ancient times. Somehow he was overthrown and his eye made into a mythical amulet and his city sunk deep within the sea.

Further evidence that CAS' impact on popular culture is probably much greater than he is given credit for!

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 23 August, 2020 11:57AM
Oldjoe Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > So what CAS very effectively does is sort of
> amp
> > up the notion of undying evil: a formerly
> potent
> > god focused entirely on evil, again senses
> himself
> > recharged by the political situation of the mid
> > 20th C, with the possible/probable result of
> > Tolometh's resurrection and apotheosis during a
> > cataclysmic nuclear exchange--which, as
> mentioned,
> > was on everyone's mind.
>
> That's a very interesting angle that I hadn't
> considered. Although I can't find any information
> to nail down the exact date of composition,
> "Tolometh" first appeared in Spells & Philtres,
> published in 1958, so of course that places it
> solidly in the post-war era of atomic
> brinksmanship. CAS apparently invented the name
> Tolometh, and in doing so he may indeed have been
> re-birthing a maleficent divinity of nuclear
> chaos!

Hah!

Tolometh, the God of Nuclear Exchanges...

Good one, Oldjoe!

>
> Interestingly, a simple Google search reveals that
> the Marvel Comics universe has a "Tolometh"
> character, whose origin is described thus:
>
>
> It is unknown when exactly he came into being but
> he was the ruler of a large city during ancient
> times. Somehow he was overthrown and his eye made
> into a mythical amulet and his city sunk deep
> within the sea.

I'm assuming that CAS's poem preceded the Marvel comix reference.

I don't know much about comix.

>
> Further evidence that CAS' impact on popular
> culture is probably much greater than he is given
> credit for!

Seems like.

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: Noivilbo (IP Logged)
Date: 23 August, 2020 07:04PM
Yes, that last stanza of “Tolometh” is a real killer, I imagine all organic matter in the flash zone being lit up transparently by X-rays. I think it would be reasonable to say that Smith revised the poem at least before March 1957, a year ahead of publication. Oldjoe, your explication is highly lucid concerning how Smith transformed the poem. And Sawfish, I believe you raise a fascinating and important point. It is interesting to place this poem in historical context, considering it was a key time for nuclear development and proliferation. Some of the U.S. tests in the South Pacific, in the mid-’50’s, yielded far more powerful results than expected, one of which resulted in the worst radiological catastrophe in U.S. history. Poems like this make me think that Smith was more affected by what was happening in “the human aquarium” than he himself suggested.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 23 August, 2020 08:02PM
Excellent and thought-provoking point.

Thanks!

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: 23 August, 2020 08:20PM
This poetic exploration and exchange is a lot of fun. I've never been much for poetry, but this is causing me to re-evaluate the form and more deeply explore it.

If everyone feels we're done with Tolometh, I'd be eager to see someone else's suggestion for the next poem.

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: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 24 August, 2020 01:18AM
"Tolometh" is one of my favorites, as someone fascinated by idols and what they inspire in people. The poem contains many vivid impressions of imperial power, alien exoticism, and relentless cataclysms, and in this sense it feels, in itself, like the idol it's speaking for, small but concentrated with powerful suggestions. I get chills when reading this one, much more grim than "To The Nightshade." I never thought of it before, but this discussion's thoughts about the nuclear terror resonates well with this poem, whether or not that was CAS' intent. The mention of a last dawn and "atom-fire" is frightening to imagine, and makes Godzilla feel quaint by comparison.

Noivilbo makes an excellent point regarding CAS and the "human aquarium." While he was certainly a star-gazer through and through, his stories make it clear he had at least some interest in human psychology, politics, and history, albeit not to any great extent (he complained about the science of psychology and considered himself apolitical). I recall a few letters to August Derleth in which he complained about the Bolsheviks and the political climate of Russia, and the censorship of religion and the needless bloodshed that would ensue. He was certainly aware of his times, and I can see the possibility of Tolometh rising from this.

Quote:
Sawfish
If everyone feels we're done with Tolometh, I'd be eager to see someone else's suggestion for the next poem.

If no one objects, I'd love to delve into the poem "Sea Cycle." If "Tolometh" relates with the suggestions of evil gods in "To The Nightshade", then "Sea Cycle" is loosely related to Tolometh's suggestions of lost and sunken things. Not that there's any need to bridge one poem with the next, I just find that detail amusing.

[eldritchdark.com]

But only if anyone else feels up to it!



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 24 Aug 20 | 01:24AM by Hespire.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith - "Sea Cycle"
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 24 August, 2020 10:27AM
Great! This is a good one!

I'll return to this with more observations, but my initial reading reveals that this has the same structure as the first poem we explored, To the Nighthade, in that it has an initial stanza that observes a natural object and expands it with poetic descriptions, and in the second stanzas creates a poetic conceit that likens the object from the first stanza to another situation that's on his mind.

Maybe this is the definition of an ode: I don't know.

Poetry is pretty difficult for me. I've confined myself to stuff like Death of the Ball Turret Gunner, or Falling. These are very visceral--huge emotional payload--but with fewer traditional poetic devices. Figuring out the poetic devices and how they are used is really kinda fun, though--puzzle-like.

Too, for those who like long-form poems, one I've been able to read--maybe twice!--is Vikram Seth's A Golden Gate. Like a Shakespearean love comedy.

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 - "Sea Cycle"
Posted by: Noivilbo (IP Logged)
Date: 24 August, 2020 07:26PM
“Sea Cycle” is a good choice because it brings together two themes that were constants in his work, from his earliest stories and poems to his last: that of return, resurrection, or a sort of reincarnation; and the theme of loss and/or a longing for the lost.

About the latter theme, I wonder if Smith at some point was in a relationship that went belly-up, which he always regretted. Or was it something opposite, a recurring pang for the “nostalgia of something unknown”? Purely speculative on my part, I know; but I have never been able to shrug the sense.

The second stanza brings both these themes together. Smith often uses the sea as a metaphor for oblivion. But for him, oblivion is not a permanent negation, because it is also the source of all things (an assimilation of Eastern mysticism)? The first stanza could then be interpreted as a contemplation of a void, from which all that has sunken into it may eventually re-emerge, in time (or as symbols from the necromantic imagination)?

Smith apparently had a deep concern for the cyclic, in the natural world and in a greater cosmic, eternal recurrence sort of way. The last poem he penned before he died was “Cycles,” a final return to the theme of return as found in “Sea Cycles” and many of his other works.

“…For Ubbo-Sathla is the source and the end… And all earthly life, it is told, shall go back at last through the great circle of time to Ubbo-Sathla.”

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith - "Sea Cycle"
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 24 August, 2020 08:27PM
Both of you make excellent points, expanding on some I know and revealing new thoughts to me, such as the subtle similarity to the "Nightshade" piece.

Without being religious or all that spiritual, the subjects of reincarnation, cycles, and the mythical sea have been very intimate to my imagination, so this poem holds a special place in my mind. It begins with wistful and ambivalent descriptions of the sea, comparing its crests to both feathers and helmet-plumes of a ceaseless, ancient army. Time and the ocean are similar in that neither is merciful to humanity, but they aren't malignant either, being altogether too huge and inhuman for that. The bounty of the sea is great, and clearly admired by the narrator, but they are carried over from other times and places, so that nothing is quite what it once was. It's the perfect metaphor for memories, which also ebb and flow in the mind, and not always in the same form. In response to Noivilbo, I wouldn't be surprised if the poem was influenced by both feelings. CAS' poetry and fiction have dealt with regret for past mistakes as well as yearning for past glories!

This poem and subject make me think of something CAS said to Derleth in a letter, perhaps revealing something of his spirituality:

Quote:
Clark Ashton Smith
I am terribly curious to see the newly completed "Return of Hastur" and hope you will loan me the carbon if Wright rejects the tale. From what you say, it would seem that some remarkable inspiration, either subliminal or external, is involved. My theory (not favored by scientists!) is that some world, or many worlds, of pure mentation may exist. The individual mind may lapse into this common reservoir at death, just as the atoms of the individual body lapse into grosser elements. Therefore, no idea or image is ever lost from the universe. Living minds, subconsciously, may tap the reservoir according to their own degree and kind of receptivity. HPL would have argued that no mentation could survive the destruction of the physical brain; but against this it might be maintained that energy and matter, brain and ideation, can never quite be destroyed no matter what changes they undergo, The sea of Being persists, though the waves of individual entity rise and fall eternally, The truth about life and death is perhaps simpler and more complex than we dream.

[www.eldritchdark.com]

I also see the similarities to "Ubbo-Sathla", and on that subject of mysterious ancient god-creatures related to the void, I find it curious that CAS mentioned Nodens in this poem, even though he never mentions the god elsewhere. Nodens appeared in Lovecraft's "Strange High-House in the Mist", as the lord of the unfathomable Deep, so I wonder if there was any influence from there.



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 24 Aug 20 | 08:43PM by Hespire.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith - "Sea Cycle"
Posted by: Noivilbo (IP Logged)
Date: 24 August, 2020 09:26PM
That's a really great commentary about metaphor and memory, Hespire! I think CAS is "going druid" here with this reference to Nodens, an old Celtic god of the sea (among other things). You can visit his temple in Lydney Park in Gloucestershire, a site which also attracted Tolkien's attention. And thank you for posting that great letter! I really should read more of his correspondence.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 24 Aug 20 | 09:28PM by Noivilbo.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2020 07:23AM
What does "Saturnia's iron keys" mean?

How do you visualize this? "Ebbing between the cypress and the grass?"



These last two lines I don't quite understand either:

"Again we two shall wander, and shall not stay,
Finding the golden wrack of yesterday."

The sea has brought the two lost lovers together again, and they wander on the shore. But what happens then? They don't stay there for long. And then they find (or do not find)... what? What is the final point? Do they again find the golden experiences they once had? Or just miss it? Or what is "golden wrack" seaweed a symbol of? Do they see that everything has become spoiled, and therefore it is no use to stay, so they leave?

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2020 11:25AM
"Saturnia" refers to a fabulous far-off continent in Greek lore. It's understandable if you didn't know that because it's such an obscure myth! In fact, I only read about it once in some old book on legendary places (so old and so obscure I can't even recall the title!). "Keys" are a type of island, and these ones in particular are made of iron, a rather strong image. CAS was evoking the effect of a place more remote and exotic than Spain.

The "ebbing" segment is the most cryptic moment for me, but it's worth noting that cypress trees used to be symbols of death and mourning, and CAS often mentioned them in that context throughout his fiction and poetry (such as the cypresses surrounding the ghoulish fane of Mordiggian), so I always felt that line referred to the tragedy of that "love-relinquished hour." One could also say that an emotionally heavy moment took place amid the grass and cypresses, a mournful and edenic setting being washed over, whether by literal waves or the waves of time. I'm no expert on poetry myself, so I'm sure someone else knows better than I do about that line.

The "golden wrack" could refer to seaweed, but I always saw the wrack as a shipwreck, which is another one of its definitions. I think this part is the most up to interpretation, so I can't imagine any wrong answer. Your idea was plenty good. I saw it as a description of how they'll enjoy those golden experiences again, or something like it (it's a wrack now, not a ship), and will leave that moment just as before.

Your questions and interpretations were excellent, forcing myself to think even more carefully than before; do keep it up if you feel like delving into other poems!



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 25 Aug 20 | 11:36AM by Hespire.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith - "Sea Cycle"
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2020 11:29AM
For a while I had Nodens confused with one of the "sleep elves" that they tell kids about at bed time...you know, Winklen, Blinken, and Nodens.

This really confused me about HPL's intent, until I got it sorted out.

...

;^)

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 - "Sea Cycle"
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2020 11:53AM
Thanks Noivilbo! I never knew Nodens was an actual god! I thought he was simply another of HPL's eldritch god-creatures! My knowledge of Celtic mythology is beyond scant, but I do recall CAS mentioning druids more than once in his work.

A sleep elf? Ha! It must have been such a strange moment at first, to read HPL's lengthy description of that oceanic pomp and splendor, only for it all to introduce a diminutive elf! Or the idea that the crawling chaos Nyarlathotep's greatest foe is such a creature, this little elf riding the Night Gaunts! Though there is a folkloric charm to it all.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 25 Aug 20 | 11:54AM by Hespire.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2020 11:58AM
Thank you very much, Hespire.

Yes, "golden wreck" as shipwreck makes sense, then they sail away in the dream ship of yesterday.

I saw the "golden wreck" as once beautiful yellow seaweed swaying in the currents, or simply glistening golden on the beach. But it's a bit hard to see that as symbol of something precious and valuable. Shipwreck it likely is.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith - "Sea Cycle"
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2020 12:35PM
I've read that the model for Nyarlathotep, at least as imagined in the prose poem of he same name, was Tesla.

Maybe I read that here.

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: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 31 August, 2020 12:05PM
I was waiting to see if OldJoe had any thoughts on "Sea Cycle", or if he was going to suggest the next poem, but since he appears to be busy, I thought I'd ask about this weird little piece next. And when I say weird I mean weirder than weird fiction:

[eldritchdark.com]

Any thoughts on what the heck any of this means?!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 31 Aug 20 | 12:06PM by Hespire.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 31 August, 2020 06:42PM
Could it be a hoax, written by somebody pretending to be Klarkash-Ton?

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Noivilbo (IP Logged)
Date: 31 August, 2020 08:43PM
It's authentic, recorded as being written June 23, 1952. Done in the drunken master style? Or maybe a parody of Surrealism (he wrote a few such parodies)? It probably belongs on the "stinker" thread! :-)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 31 Aug 20 | 09:39PM by Noivilbo.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 1 September, 2020 03:17PM
Well, OK. First I need to figure out what he is talking about...

Quote:
I am that saint uncanonized,who saw
the copulation of the toad-like stones
and spawning of the seer, sun-mumbled bones
to golden efts and flowers without flaw.

The narrative voice makes the general claim to have witnessed something like a miracle: stones that looked like toads, mating, followed by the apparent birth of salamanders and flawless flowers from dry and sun-bleached bones.

Also, "the seer" of the title, I suppose.

Gosh.

Quote:
The clouds were squared to temples of the Law,
the clouds were sphered to pandemonian thrones.

OK, this seems to be an implied allusion to the act of "squaring the circle"--which is another way of saying doing the very difficult, if not impossible.

Of course CAS says "sphere" not circle, and this could be a mixed metaphor, since there is also the concept of cubing the sphere, also very challenging.

But his two operations, the squaring of the clouds and the "sphering" of the clouds yield conceptually opposing outcomes--the squaring to Law; the "sphering" to what might be another way to say Chaos, so who knows what the intent actually was?

Quote:
Out of the beaked and feathered telephones
There came the falcon s cry, the raven s caw.

So a "beaked and feathered telephome" is either a direct metaphor for a bird, or else a surrealistic image designed to further disorient the reader.

Again, hard to say what CAS intended.

Quote:
Riding the inland sunset rose anew
triremes of Carthage and Columbian sails
convoyed by sirens with their fan-like fins.

More dissonant and contradictory imagery...

Here we have a sunset, but not just any sunset: and inland sunset--but then we have both ancient (Carthaginian) and early modern (Columbus era) watercraft being escorted by mythical beings.

Quote:
Over the mountains a mad tortoise flew,
spouted upon by levitating whales
that in the zenith hung like Zeppelins.

The mad tortoise is difficult to pin down, but the spouting "levitating whales" that hung over the highest part of the (sky?), sure seems to me to refer to the way that ancient maps were detailed with fanciful artwork.

So taken altogether, what in the world does this whole thing mean?

But you know, the entire 2nd stanza looks to me like a description of an ancient map, what with the illustration of old ships, perhaps superimposed over the land masses, being escorted by sirens and flying tortoises and spouting whales in other parts of the map.

So...

CAS was an early experimenter in psychedelia, huh? ;^)

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



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 1 Sep 20 | 04:07PM by Sawfish.

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]

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 28 September, 2020 03:31PM
Oldjoe Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> 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]
> sert-dweller
>
> 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.

I take this to be a poetic way of CAS telling us that he marches to the beat of a different drum--and that ultimately, it may not even be a drum, such as we know them.

That would be the central theme, I believe.

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: 30 September, 2020 09:09PM
Yes, Desert Dweller is definitely among those favourites. And yes, 'For me, the verdure of inviolate grass/In far mirages vanishing at noon' resonates as much as any verse I've ever read. It's also very much in line with Smith's occasional tendencies to prefer the comfort of a pleasurable illusion over the uncomfort of an unpleasurable reality. I suppose all dreamers are like that, in one way or another.

And in this case, the illusion provides not only pleasure but also certain purity, making it preferable on another, deeper level.

Even more do resonate the opening lines. 'There is no room in any town (he said)/To house the towering hugeness of my dream'. The whole poem is just a paean to the soul.

It's interesting that Oldjoe sees both Desert Dweller and The Prophet Speaks as being about a conflict between art and the Mammondom while to me it's about the individual versus the community, the society, the throng. This too is very much in line with both Smith's personal life and preferences, as well as his more than occasional tendencies to place the blame for the corruption of an individual on his evil, rotten, decadent surroundings rather than the individual himself. There's a very strong anti-communal undertone to his writings.

Steven Behrends said he had a poetic image of himself as a solitary sorcerer. Much of it is leaking into his work.

Speaking of art and Mammondom, you might be interested in the Elder Sign episode dedicated to The Planet of the Dead. They go a bit into this topic, the role of a poet in a capitalist society, etc. Story itself is one of Smith's finest, and he draws some really interesting analogies and contrasts.

[www.claytemplemedia.com]

Another thing. You sound like an artist, Oldjoe. Are you an artist? Anything you'd like to share with us?

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 1 October, 2020 10:50AM
The Sojourner of Worlds Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It's interesting that Oldjoe sees both Desert
> Dweller and The Prophet Speaks as being about a
> conflict between art and the Mammondom while to me
> it's about the individual versus the community,
> the society, the throng. This too is very much in
> line with both Smith's personal life and
> preferences, as well as his more than occasional
> tendencies to place the blame for the corruption
> of an individual on his evil, rotten, decadent
> surroundings rather than the individual himself.
> There's a very strong anti-communal undertone to
> his writings.

You're quite right Sojourner to pick up on the "anti-communal undertone" present in many of CAS' writings. That's an aspect of his personality and his work that I do often think about when reading both his prose and his poetry. Steve Behrends has written an entire essay on that theme:

[www.eldritchdark.com]

I don't agree with all of Behrends' conclusions, but it's an interesting analysis all the same.

> Speaking of art and Mammondom, you might be
> interested in the Elder Sign episode dedicated to
> The Planet of the Dead. They go a bit into this
> topic, the role of a poet in a capitalist society,
> etc. Story itself is one of Smith's finest, and he
> draws some really interesting analogies and
> contrasts.

I used to listen to the Elder Sign podcast fairly regularly, but haven't been able to keep up with them recently. However I am very interested in hearing them discuss "The Planet of the Dead", so thanks for linking to that!

> Another thing. You sound like an artist, Oldjoe.
> Are you an artist? Anything you'd like to share
> with us?

I used to write a bit, but in the last few years I've been focusing more on music (classical guitar). I did have a poem published a couple of years ago in the Spectral Realms journal from Hippocampus Press. And in fact, that poem was a tribute to none other than CAS!

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 1 October, 2020 12:48PM
Interleaved, below:

Oldjoe Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The Sojourner of Worlds Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > It's interesting that Oldjoe sees both Desert
> > Dweller and The Prophet Speaks as being about a
> > conflict between art and the Mammondom while to
> me
> > it's about the individual versus the community,
> > the society, the throng. This too is very much
> in
> > line with both Smith's personal life and
> > preferences, as well as his more than
> occasional
> > tendencies to place the blame for the
> corruption
> > of an individual on his evil, rotten, decadent
> > surroundings rather than the individual
> himself.
> > There's a very strong anti-communal undertone
> to
> > his writings.
>
> You're quite right Sojourner to pick up on the
> "anti-communal undertone" present in many of CAS'
> writings. That's an aspect of his personality and
> his work that I do often think about when reading
> both his prose and his poetry. Steve Behrends has
> written an entire essay on that theme:
>
> [www.eldritchdark.com]
> clark-ashton-smith%3A-cosmicist-or-misanthrope%3F
>
> I don't agree with all of Behrends' conclusions,
> but it's an interesting analysis all the same.

I found this to be a concretely supported and well-reasoned assessment of what informed CAS's outlook on life.

We have to face facts: very many CAS readers tend towards the ill-defined "touchy-feely" response, and this is to be expected among people who are drawn toward imaginative and dreamy reading material. But Behrends attempts to define with specificity the attributes of cosmicist and the misanthrope. He used HPL and CAS as concrete examples of each. Having read both authors really quite a bit, I think he captured the essence of HPL's view of mankinds's place in the cosmos, and with Smith, he got me to consider that he may have been an active misanthrope.

Personally, I'd like to see a bit more of this sort of analysis on ED. I know that many of us enjoy the dreamy aspects of CAS's narratives and poems--we get off on that which he so effectively evokes, but unless we attempt to identify what he does and how, we are in deep danger of having ED slide inexorably into yet another fan-boy site: you tell me how you felt on reading Poem A, and I'll respond with how I felt, and naturally since our emotional response if largely (and necessarily) private and individual, we'll simply be talking *at* each other, smiling and nodding in contented, but ill-defined fandom.


>
> > Speaking of art and Mammondom, you might be
> > interested in the Elder Sign episode dedicated
> to
> > The Planet of the Dead. They go a bit into this
> > topic, the role of a poet in a capitalist
> society,
> > etc. Story itself is one of Smith's finest, and
> he
> > draws some really interesting analogies and
> > contrasts.
>
> I used to listen to the Elder Sign podcast fairly
> regularly, but haven't been able to keep up with
> them recently. However I am very interested in
> hearing them discuss "The Planet of the Dead", so
> thanks for linking to that!
>
> > Another thing. You sound like an artist,
> Oldjoe.
> > Are you an artist? Anything you'd like to share
> > with us?
>
> I used to write a bit, but in the last few years
> I've been focusing more on music (classical
> guitar). I did have a poem published a couple of
> years ago in the Spectral Realms journal from
> Hippocampus Press. And in fact, that poem was a
> tribute to none other than CAS!

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: 2 October, 2020 07:27PM
I don't see the need to go as far as misanthropy. I'd be more inclined to say that for Smith humans only work in small doses.

I mentioned The Planet of the Dead. Two lovers on one side and the rest of the planet on another.

Or, in a poetic form:

[www.eldritchdark.com]

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 2 October, 2020 09:37PM
CAS and his relationship with humanity is a bit complicated by my understanding. He didn't seem to hate humans as much as he hated what he viewed as rampant problems with civilization. Such things as arrogance, intolerance, bigotry, materialism, and what he viewed as an over-reliance on science and technology. His stories and poems certainly exist to poke a hole in the self-inflated ego of humans, and he often depicts humans at their ugliest and pettiest, but there also exist characters who he clearly identified with, or characters that are portrayed as a little more right than others (and not so much hateful as wistful or lonesome), and a whole lot of ambiguous situations.

He isn't easy or fair toward humanity either, and he has strong moments of misanthropy, but his work focused so much on beauty, horror, romance, and relatable feelings that they don't ooze with overwhelming hatred like I expect from a misanthropic artist, who would be a lot less fair. Some of his poems are a bit heavy-handed in their hatred or dismissal of humans, but I sense this is derived from a mix of frustrations he wanted to vent and an emphasis on his belief that human society isn't the center of the world, not so much a display of a definite human-hating philosophy.

As I understand it, CAS spent some portion of his life as a pariah among the judgmental, gossipy townsfolk where he lived, especially in his youth. That oughta spark some resentment and bitterness from time to time.

I'm not in the mood to search, but I recall calonlan (CAS' friend) explaining that CAS enjoyed spending time with friends, even laymen at a bar, but he wasn't fond of crowds. Of course, this was from CAS' married days, so who knows what he was like before that. Maybe he was a devoted misanthrope at some point, I just don't think so based on what I've seen.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 2 October, 2020 09:48PM
The Sojourner of Worlds Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I don't see the need to go as far as misanthropy.
> I'd be more inclined to say that for Smith humans
> only work in small doses.


How so?

What does "humans work in small doses" mean, specifically?

>
> I mentioned The Planet of the Dead. Two lovers on
> one side and the rest of the planet on another.
>
> Or, in a poetic form:
>
> [www.eldritchdark.com]
> stlude

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: 3 October, 2020 03:28PM
Two things.

First of all, the circumstances of his upbringing meant he was never socialised to the extent most of us were. He never learned to conform, to comply, because he had no need to fit in. He wasn't instructed to fit in.

This is not to say he was a special snowflake, of course, but he developed his own preferences and stuck with them. Those preferences weren't necessarily in line with what was popular back then, over there, and he, as is to be expected, felt a certain... disappointment. Most of his resentful comments towards mankind are barely anything more than grievances of a frustrated artist.

The other thing is that the reason for all this goes back to agoraphobia he suffered from as a child. It's what turned him into an autodidact and probably informed, in one way or another, a large part of his creative output. Whether that influence was direct, whether he rationalised his agoraphobia into a life philosophy, is hard to say. But one way or another, it's there.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 3 October, 2020 05:53PM
OK, I see, thanks.

It meant that Smith needed to have direct contact with people only for limited times and in limited circumstances, right?

Yep. Makes sense.

There's some similarity to my own early years, ages birth to six, when my younger brother was born. Not as isolated by any means, but no daily contact with people other than my mom and dad. I lived out in the country, too.

I still tend to be a loner, probably based on my early default expectations, so all you say makes sense to me.

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: 3 October, 2020 08:45PM
I moved away from the brutalist centre of a former communist capital to its rural periphery. I don't think I became any less social, just that my contacts with other people became more private, more personal, more intimate. No mellowed strings, no strident brass, no cry of love, no clangor of great horns, no thunder-burdened ways where thousands pass.

Just four eyes and a howl of wind.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 4 October, 2020 11:05AM
Sojourner's point about CAS' agoraphobia rings much truer to me than the misanthropic qualities that Steve Behrends' discussed in his essay (referenced above). This point came home to me over the last couple of days as I was reading CAS' poem "Bacchante", inspired by his friendship with the poet Eric Barker and his wife, the dancer Madelynne Greene. I blogged about that poem this morning:

[www.desertdweller.net]

What is striking about that work is the genuine depth of feeling CAS expresses in tribute to Greene. It's hardly the work of a misanthrope. Greene herself has written movingly of their friendship:

[www.eldritchdark.com]

CAS was no social butterfly, but neither was he someone who was incapable of connecting with other people, as Hespire and Sojourner have reminded us with their thoughtful comments above.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 5 October, 2020 04:11AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> We have to face facts: very many CAS readers tend
> towards the ill-defined "touchy-feely" response,
> and this is to be expected ...
>
> many of us enjoy the dreamy aspects of CAS's narratives and
> poems ..., but unless we attempt to identify what he
> does and how, we are in deep danger of having ED
> slide inexorably into yet another fan-boy site
>

I much prefer the fan approach, to the scheduled academic college curriculum approach. I don't want to pluck apart art and literature, like dissecting some dead frog or rabbit in science class. It destroys the magic and mystery. I am not interested in presenting a full report, for the teacher's approval, to prove myself, and be able to say, see how good I am, I got an A. I prefer supernatural and fantastic literature to retain its aura of mystery.

Occasionally I may participate in academic discussions, when there is a subject of particular interest, or when there is something completely blocking my understanding, something I should be familiar with but which incidentally is missing in my set of reference. But generally I like to just intuitively muse over what I am reading, and reach for associated rich images that will increase the magic and illusion even further.

I don't mind reading a practical book about grammar and writing, or take a class in drawing. But ultimately I like to respect the created illusions of artists and magicians.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 5 October, 2020 03:50PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> >
> > We have to face facts: very many CAS readers
> tend
> > towards the ill-defined "touchy-feely"
> response,
> > and this is to be expected ...
> >
> > many of us enjoy the dreamy aspects of CAS's
> narratives and
> > poems ..., but unless we attempt to identify
> what he
> > does and how, we are in deep danger of having
> ED
> > slide inexorably into yet another fan-boy site
> >
>
> I much prefer the fan approach, to the scheduled
> academic college curriculum approach.

However, there are other approaches.

You might do it like comparing restaurants, and how they prepare and serve signature dishes. This has nothing to do with academia and everything to do with recognizing what it is, specifically, that impressed you and describing it.

Then, if curious, figuring out *why* it appealed.

The academic approach includes letters, the writings of other savants, etc. I seldom am interested in what others tell me I should like, and why. What I want to know what *I* like, and how it is I came to like it.


> I don't want
> to pluck apart art and literature, like dissecting
> some dead frog or rabbit in science class.

I could also be that I've coded for too long and it tend to think in terms of knowable cause and effect. But not everyone is curious about how and why, I've come to realize.

> It
> destroys the magic and mystery. I am not
> interested in presenting a full report, for the
> teacher's approval, to prove myself, and be able
> to say, see how good I am, I got an A.

Does that happen here?

> I prefer
> supernatural and fantastic literature to retain
> its aura of mystery.
>

> Occasionally I may participate in academic
> discussions, when there is a subject of particular
> interest, or when there is something completely
> blocking my understanding, something I should be
> familiar with but which incidentally is missing in
> my set of reference. But generally I like to just
> intuitively muse over what I am reading, and reach
> for associated rich images that will increase the
> magic and illusion even further.

It's hard then to see what there is to discuss. It will be one person saying that he likes a certain thing, and another saying he likes another certain thing. Occasionally someone will agree with someone else, which constitutes a popularity contest and little else.

>
> I don't mind reading a practical book about
> grammar and writing, or take a class in drawing.
> But ultimately I like to respect the created
> illusions of artists and magicians.

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: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 5 October, 2020 06:59PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Knygatin Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> > It destroys the magic and mystery.
>
> Does that happen here?

That is for each one to ask oneself. I don't allow it to happen to me. I participate in the information I like and need, and reject superfluous information I feel is pulling me in the wrong direction.


>
> It's hard then to see what there is to discuss. It
> will be one person saying that he likes a certain
> thing, and another saying he likes another certain
> thing. Occasionally someone will agree with
> someone else, ...
>

Sounds pretty much like the correspondence between CAS and Lovecraft, when they recommended stories to each other.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 5 October, 2020 08:42PM
While we are on the subject of misanthropy, here is my favorite epigram by CAS:

“The real objection to the Darwinian theory is that man has not yet evolved from the ape.”

I think the human intellect is gravely overestimated. Our perception, understanding, and analysis of our surroundings, is very limited. We can perceive only a small part, and this is twisted in perspective by our peculiar nerve sensory setup. We like to think of ourselves as rational and objective. We fool ourselves. We are animals. Our whole outlook, our judgment, and taste in art and literature, all of our decisions, are really controlled by our emotions and instincts. Much of intellectual discussion, and progressive analysis, is wasted time. That is my experience. It has led me only very slowly forward in wisdom. It is essentially empty. I feel, that the best way we can use our intellects, is through creativity. That gives the greatest satisfaction, and then we stand closest in harmony with God and the Cosmos.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 5 Oct 20 | 08:46PM by Knygatin.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 5 October, 2020 09:19PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Much of intellectual discussion, and
> progressive analysis, is wasted time. That is my
> experience. It has led me only very slowly forward
> in wisdom. It is essentially empty. I feel, that
> the best way we can use our intellects, is through
> creativity. That gives the greatest satisfaction,
> and then we stand closest in harmony with God and
> the Cosmos.

Well said - I couldn't agree more Knygatin!

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 6 October, 2020 12:16PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Knygatin Wrote:
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> > > It destroys the magic and mystery.
> >
> > Does that happen here?
>
> That is for each one to ask oneself. I don't allow
> it to happen to me. I participate in the
> information I like and need, and reject
> superfluous information I feel is pulling me in
> the wrong direction.
>
>
> >
> > It's hard then to see what there is to discuss.
> It
> > will be one person saying that he likes a
> certain
> > thing, and another saying he likes another
> certain
> > thing. Occasionally someone will agree with
> > someone else, ...
> >
>
> Sounds pretty much like the correspondence between
> CAS and Lovecraft, when they recommended stories
> to each other.


Sawfish, clearing his throat...

"I served with Clark Ashton Smith. I knew Clark Ashton Smith. Clark Ashton Smith was a friend of mine. Sir, you're no Clark Ashton Smith..."

;^)

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: 6 October, 2020 12:23PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> While we are on the subject of misanthropy, here
> is my favorite epigram by CAS:
>
> “The real objection to the Darwinian theory is
> that man has not yet evolved from the ape.”
>
> I think the human intellect is gravely
> overestimated. Our perception, understanding, and
> analysis of our surroundings, is very limited. We
> can perceive only a small part, and this is
> twisted in perspective by our peculiar nerve
> sensory setup. We like to think of ourselves as
> rational and objective. We fool ourselves. We are
> animals. Our whole outlook, our judgment, and
> taste in art and literature, all of our decisions,
> are really controlled by our emotions and
> instincts. Much of intellectual discussion, and
> progressive analysis, is wasted time. That is my
> experience. It has led me only very slowly forward
> in wisdom. It is essentially empty. I feel, that
> the best way we can use our intellects, is through
> creativity. That gives the greatest satisfaction,
> and then we stand closest in harmony with God and
> the Cosmos.

This is very close to what I mean when I say that all anyone ever needs to know about human behavior can be learned by watching Jane Goodall documentaries.

This is *not* hyperbole.

CAS feels that the best use of what we *do* have intellectually is thru creativity; I differ with this since I have little-to-no creativity within me. I use my puny intellect to stay out of trouble.

That's about it. I am really good at staying out of all sorts of "trouble": financial, interpersonal, professional, etc.

You got to use what God has seen fit to give you...

:^)

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: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 6 October, 2020 01:08PM
I share some feelings with CAS, like his appreciation for individualism and his distaste for psychologists, so I share some feelings with Knygatin about the transcendence of creativity. But at the same time, I don't see much use in making authoritative statements about what is or isn't meaningful, or what constitutes a good or bad waste of time. The way I see it, CAS' statement that all ideologies are just candles in the infinite blackness of the universe can easily be turned against itself, even though I follow it as well. If there really is just infinite blackness, and we are all just candles about to flicker from existence, I think anyone could live in any way they please.

I'd participate more in both types of conversation here, as I enjoy both analytic discussions and listening to personal experiences (these type of conversations can be illuminating, especially here on this forum, but I agree that fanbase websites are pretty useless if you want to engage with people deeply). The only issue is an unbearably busy family life!



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 6 Oct 20 | 01:10PM by Hespire.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: The Sojourner of Worlds (IP Logged)
Date: 8 October, 2020 05:16PM
Oldjoe,

— How does one end up being published in Spectral Realms?

— I linked Postlude as an example of Smith's worldview. 'Hearkening now the voices of the crowd... What have you found amid the many faces?'

However, there's a line in there that says 'Your naked body on the noonlit hill'. Is it 'noonlit' or 'moonlit'? I assume it's the latter but not sure.

— Any other Weird Tales poets you like? For instance, I haven't read all that much from Frank Belknap Long but what little I did read left a very positive impression, and just recently I discovered Mary Maude Dunne Wright AKA Lilith Lorraine.

[img.newspapers.com]

Robert E. Howard is another one I'm fond of. Good portion of his poems actually sound like stories he never found time to write.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 9 October, 2020 10:42AM
The Sojourner of Worlds Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> — How does one end up being published in
> Spectral Realms?

S.T. Joshi is the editor of Spectral Realms, so the way to get published is to send a poem to him for consideration.

> However, there's a line in there that says 'Your
> naked body on the noonlit hill'. Is it 'noonlit'
> or 'moonlit'? I assume it's the latter but not
> sure.

I's rendered as "noonlit" in all the print sources I've looked at (The Hill of Dionysus, Selected Poems, and the Hippocampus edition of The Complete Poetry and Translations). It is quite an evocative term for the phenomenon of meridian sunlight.

> — Any other Weird Tales poets you like? For
> instance, I haven't read all that much from Frank
> Belknap Long but what little I did read left a
> very positive impression, and just recently I
> discovered Mary Maude Dunne Wright AKA Lilith
> Lorraine.
>
> [img.newspapers.com]
> &user=0&id=298592974&width=557&height=2062&crop=15
> 5_2108_1550_5845&rotation=0&brightness=0&contrast=
> 0&invert=0&ts=1602015425&h=062a0573a778e97b207f077
> 34f1bf6da
>
> Robert E. Howard is another one I'm fond of. Good
> portion of his poems actually sound like stories
> he never found time to write.

Both Donald Wandrei and Frank Belknap Long have some decent poems (the latter's "On Reading Arthur Machen" is especially good), but I haven't read many other poets from the Weird Tales era. REH's poetry is on my to-read list, and I'll get to it one of these days!

Lilith Lorraine is a name that I have heard, only because CAS apparently wrote an introduction to one of her books:

[www.eldritchdark.com]

Have you found any of Lorraine's verse online or in print Sojourner? Any particular poems from her that you can recommend?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 9 Oct 20 | 10:42AM by Oldjoe.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 22 October, 2020 05:42PM
For those of us having difficulties with grasping verse in general, I would recommend the books An Apology for Poetry by Sir Philip Sidney, and A Defense of Poetry by Percy Bysshe Shelly. They are both enjoyable reading, and open up previously closed doors, to wider vistas, for an ingrained mundane mind.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 22 October, 2020 10:37PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> For those of us having difficulties with grasping
> verse in general, I would recommend the books An
> Apology for Poetry by Sir Philip Sidney, and A
> Defense of Poetry by Percy Bysshe Shelly. They are
> both enjoyable reading, and open up previously
> closed doors, to wider vistas, for an ingrained
> mundane mind.


Your recommendations raise interesting implications, OldJoe.

To me, the key difference between reading most poetry and most prose is that find that I must essentially "study" the work, virtually word-by-word, if the language is typically florid.

This in not *bad*, and can be very rewarding I've found since you started this thread--I had not read any poetry, at all, for many years.

But it does require more time, and more privacy, for me, at least. Therefore, it is less accessible.

There are more modern works that are much more direct. Have you read Dickey's "Falling"?

[poets.org]

"Death of the Ball Turret Gunner"?

These come at poetry differently than from Yeats, for example, or our own CAS.

And I recall having an undergraduate class that covered the Calvalier poets...

Your opinions?

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 October, 2020 09:20AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> To me, the key difference between reading most
> poetry and most prose is that find that I must
> essentially "study" the work, virtually
> word-by-word, if the language is typically
> florid.

I read poetry the same way that you do Sawfish, at least "serious" poetry (from which I'd exclude limericks, nonsense verse, etc).

The compact nature of poems forces their creators to be more deliberate with diction, and to use literary devices (such as metaphor and allusion) to extend the poem's scope beyond the actual words themselves. It's really quite a different craft than writing prose.

However, one of the reasons I admire CAS so much is that he often applied his poetic craft to his short fiction, and of course to his prose poems as well. I know there are readers who dislike stories such as "The Abominations of Yondo", but for me the poetic flavor is a big part of the appeal ("The sand of the desert of Yondo is not as the sand of other deserts...")

Your reference to "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" is quite apropos: at only five lines, it's a quick read, but Jarrell chose his words very carefully, and each line sparks connections and meanings that go well beyond what is "on the page". That poem is a wonderful demonstration of what is possible with the unique qualities of poetry, when worked by a master craftsman.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 24 October, 2020 06:36PM
Oldjoe Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > To me, the key difference between reading most
> > poetry and most prose is that find that I must
> > essentially "study" the work, virtually
> > word-by-word, if the language is typically
> > florid.
>
> I read poetry the same way that you do Sawfish, at
> least "serious" poetry (from which I'd exclude
> limericks, nonsense verse, etc).
>
> The compact nature of poems forces their creators
> to be more deliberate with diction, and to use
> literary devices (such as metaphor and allusion)
> to extend the poem's scope beyond the actual words
> themselves. It's really quite a different craft
> than writing prose.
>
> However, one of the reasons I admire CAS so much
> is that he often applied his poetic craft to his
> short fiction, and of course to his prose poems as
> well.

YES!

Now that you mention it, I *do* read CAS differently--I run sentences thru my mind a couple of times,--not every line, as in his poetry, but certain passages that seem to me to be "loaded"--to be unraveled and to see that they have multiple, perhaps interlocking, or telescoping, meanings.

As in his poetry.

> I know there are readers who dislike
> stories such as "The Abominations of Yondo",

NO!

They are wrong!!! ;^)

I've *always* liked it, the whole thing, and he *runs* back to the inquisitors, almost gladly...

Wow!

> but
> for me the poetic flavor is a big part of the
> appeal ("The sand of the desert of Yondo is not as
> the sand of other deserts...")
>
> Your reference to "The Death of the Ball Turret
> Gunner" is quite apropos: at only five lines, it's
> a quick read, but Jarrell chose his words very
> carefully, and each line sparks connections and
> meanings that go well beyond what is "on the
> page". That poem is a wonderful demonstration of
> what is possible with the unique qualities of
> poetry, when worked by a master craftsman.

Since we have started this thread, and I have had a chance to learn how to read poetry, I believe at this late stage in my life--where I am sleepless for long periods of the night and hence read--I may well starting reading a whole lot more.

The pace is very much different, isn't it? It's definitely not the same as reading prose...

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: 27 October, 2020 11:22AM
Oldjoe,

— I just found out there's also a journal called Penumbra which seems to serve a similar purpose except it's for articles and original fiction.

It's good to know that if one happens to write any sort of a tribute to Smith, or the weirds in general, all they have to do is send it to Joshi, without going through too much hassle. The only problem seems to be that it's released once a year (or twice, as is the case with Spectral Realms) which sounds less than ideal but I suppose it's a start.

— I think my favourite by Long might be On Icy Kinarth. I suspect the added illustration may have something to do with it.

[ia803001.us.archive.org]

— With Howard it's the likes of Adventurer, Always Comes Evening, Cimmeria, Flaming Marble, Moon Mockery, Moonlight on a Skull, Orientia, Recompense, Remembrance, The Singer in the Mist, The Song of a Mad Minstrel, Surrender, To the Contended, Which Will Scarcely Be Understood.

Like I said, a lot of these feel like short stories and novels he never found time to write.

— As for Lorraine, I'm afraid I'm still in the process of googling about her, haha. Still, I could say the link I posted offers at least two poems I quite enjoyed, namely A Thousand Lives Ago and Who Are the Dead?

And on that googling note:

[www.eldritchdark.com]

Furthermore:

[www.joshuablubuhs.com]

Related and perhaps more on-topic:

[www.joshuablubuhs.com]

— Even more on-topic, quite a few of Smith's poems (Averoigne, Mors, Necromancy, Song of the Necromancer) mention 'necromantic glass' or 'necromancer's glass'.

Does anyone know what this refers to?

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 5 November, 2020 09:36AM
The Sojourner of Worlds Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> — As for Lorraine, I'm afraid I'm still in the
> process of googling about her, haha. Still, I
> could say the link I posted offers at least two
> poems I quite enjoyed, namely A Thousand Lives Ago
> and Who Are the Dead?

Thanks Sojourner for the various links related to Lilith Lorraine. She does seem like a talented poet, and it's a bit of a shame that her work seems to be somewhat forgotten today. I found one of her poems online that seems directly inspired by HPL and his mythos, and it's really one of the better things I've read in that vein:

[deepcuts.blog]


> — Even more on-topic, quite a few of Smith's
> poems (Averoigne, Mors, Necromancy, Song of the
> Necromancer) mention 'necromantic glass' or
> 'necromancer's glass'.
>
> Does anyone know what this refers to?

I always assumed that with those phrases CAS was referring to scrying, or perhaps more specifically to catoptromancy, since that is sometimes linked to necromancy. But I'm no expert on occult practices, so that's just an uninformed assumption on my part.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 5 November, 2020 11:06AM
If you liked that poem by Lilith Lorraine, don't forget "The Woods of Averoigne" (1934) by Grace Stillman: [deepcuts.blog]

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 22 November, 2020 04:21PM
For those interested in discussing another of CAS' poems, I'll recommend "Midnight Beach":

[www.eldritchdark.com]

I blogged about this poem earlier today:

[www.desertdweller.net]

I think it's a great example of a poem that has a distinctly terrestrial subject (two lovers romping on the beach), but is simultaneously fueled by CAS' interests in the cosmic and the fantastic:

Aloof we seemed, from time and change,
Like runes a magian might unroll
Upon some old unfading scroll,
Or phantoms loosed from earthly dole
In starry freedom, lone and strange.


Few writers I know of can combine the strains of the worldly and the weird with such great effect as CAS does in "Midnight Beach", and I'm curious if other readers find this particular poem as compelling as I do.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 24 November, 2020 02:15AM
Oldjoe Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Few writers I know of can combine the strains of
> the worldly and the weird with such great effect
> as CAS does in "Midnight Beach", and I'm curious
> if other readers find this particular poem as
> compelling as I do.

I don't find this poem weird at all. But it is a beautiful love-poem, touching upon the spiritually eternal through cosmic analogy. The kind of poetry that would seem natural to come from a talent like CAS, who lived in the countryside far from the bustling city, and who slept outside the shack in a bunk underneath the stars.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 24 November, 2020 08:08AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ... slept in a bunk ... .

... slept on a bunk. Perhaps more gramatically correct, especially when it is a simple bunk that you don't sink into.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 26 November, 2020 08:43AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The kind of poetry
> that would seem natural to come from a talent like
> CAS, who lived in the countryside far from the
> bustling city, and who slept outside the shack on
> a bunk underneath the stars.

That's a poetic description right there, Knygatin! And you remind us of an important point about CAS' semi-isolated rural lifestyle and its impact on his artistic endeavors. His letters often refer to his preference for writing in the summer months, when he could do so outdoors. That does sound like a wonderfully conducive environment for creative pursuits.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 26 Nov 20 | 08:43AM by Oldjoe.

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 26 November, 2020 12:05PM
Oldjoe Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Knygatin Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > The kind of poetry
> > that would seem natural to come from a talent like
> > CAS, who lived in the countryside far from the
> > bustling city, and who slept outside the shack on
> > a bunk underneath the stars.
>
> That's a poetic description right there, Knygatin!
> And you remind us of an important point about
> CAS' semi-isolated rural lifestyle and its impact
> on his artistic endeavors. His letters often
> refer to his preference for writing in the summer
> months, when he could do so outdoors. That does
> sound like a wonderfully conducive environment for
> creative pursuits.

!!!? That was a kind comment, Oldjoe!

I think he surely also must have spent some time by the sea, on some occasion, to write this poem. It is a late poem. Perhaps written when he lived with his wife in Pacific Grove?

Re: A closer look at the poems of Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 26 November, 2020 12:26PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Perhaps written when he lived with his wife in Pacific Grove?

Or in-between when up in Auburn (sometimes a step back from beauty is needed to transmute it into art). He alternated back and forth between the locations, before permanently moving to Pacific Grove.



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