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Happy Birthday, Klarkash-Ton!
Posted by: Radovarl (IP Logged)
Date: 13 January, 2010 08:37AM
Happy Birthday!

Re: Happy Birthday, Klarkash-Ton!
Posted by: dougdraa (IP Logged)
Date: 13 January, 2010 11:25AM
I hope that the Emperor is still dreaming!
Happy Birthday KlarkashTon!

Re: Happy Birthday, Klarkash-Ton!
Posted by: deuce (IP Logged)
Date: 13 January, 2010 02:09PM
Hear, hear! In honor of CAS' nativity, The Cimmerian is posting several entries on Klarkash-Ton today. Here's a couple:

[www.thecimmerian.com]

[www.thecimmerian.com]

I've yet to post mine, since several incidental problems have flared up today, but I plan on getting it up by midnight.

I raise a glass of burgundy to Clark Ashton Smith and all of you. :-)

Re: Happy Birthday, Klarkash-Ton!
Posted by: casofile (IP Logged)
Date: 14 January, 2010 01:35AM
Yes indeed, cheers to CAS! Gone but by no means forgotten; he would have been 117 today. No burgundy for me, but perhaps a neat bit O rum to toast the master . . . too bad it's not Friday the 13th!

-Ron

Re: Happy Birthday, Klarkash-Ton!
Posted by: deuce (IP Logged)
Date: 14 January, 2010 02:37PM
From what I recall, CAS had nothing against rum, either. ;-)

There two more CAS posts up at The Cimmerian (if anyone is interested). AFAIK, ours was the biggest CAS celebration on the Net.

Re: Happy Birthday, Klarkash-Ton!
Posted by: casofile (IP Logged)
Date: 13 January, 2011 11:20AM
Well another year has passed, but what does this matter to one who couches on Saturn's outmost ring, dreaming of inconceivable fear and unimaginable love?


"Yet, for a toll so light, by Song transported,
To sail beyond Elysium and Thelem,
And see, from oblivion looming, balmier shores
Of fables infinite! To light our dreams
At rose Aldebaran or sky-huge Antares,
Then quench their heat, or temper Damascus thought
In cold aphelions and apastrons far!
To pace the sun's Typhoean ramparts vast!
To couch on Saturns's outmost ring, or roll
With Pluto through his orb of eventide
Whose Hesper is the dwindled sun! To flaunt
Before the blind in immarcesible purple
Won from the murex of Uranian seas,
And fire-plucked vermeil of Vulcan, worn against
These aguish mists and wintry shadows! Thus
We triumph; thus the laurel overtops
The upas and the yew; and we decline
No toil, no dolor of our votive doom."


Happy birthday Klarkash-Ton!

-Ron

Re: Happy Birthday, Klarkash-Ton!
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 13 January, 2011 02:29PM
Yes, happy 118th, Sir!

Re: Happy Birthday, Klarkash-Ton!
Posted by: cathexis (IP Logged)
Date: 15 January, 2011 10:02AM
Hi Ron,

Could a mere acolyte dare to critique this rapturous paean?

First of all "immarcesible" ought to be "immarcescible".
(If this is a typo, then please nevermind). Another problem
is the word, "murex" - is that in the original? It ought to be
the plural "murices", (see citation below). Maybe the grammer
is technically correct but is he really suggesting this vast
celestial cloak was won from one lousy mollusk ? Finally there
is, "aguish": The way it's used it would suggest "shivering mists"
perhaps ? A mist seems a rather insubstantial or tenuous thing
to be shivering. Imagine you walk outside on a cold winter's morning;
Your cold breath is visible as you exhale. Your hands might shiver but
would your cold, foggy, breath shiver as well?
Just seems out of place.

Okay, I'll fall on my sword now,

Cathexis

Citation:

[dictionary.reference.com]

–noun, plural mu·ri·ces

Word Origin & History

murex

kind of shellfish which yields a purple dye, 1589, from L. murex (pl. murices ), probably cognate with Gk. myax "sea mussel," of unknown origin, perhaps related to mys "mouse" (see muscle and mussel ).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Re: Happy Birthday, Klarkash-Ton!
Posted by: casofile (IP Logged)
Date: 15 January, 2011 02:16PM
Cathexis wrote:

"Could a mere acolyte dare to critique this rapturous paean?"

I certainly wouldn't have! . . . I admit to taking the easy way out, having copied this directly from the site, and I forgive all typos such as "immarcesible" due to the immense effort that must have gone into redacting these poems individually. (It should also read "an immarcescible purple" rather than "in") Smith likely used "murex" rather than "murices" to keep the iambic metre consistent; and "aguish" refers to a chill mist which causes or contributes to the "ague." I learned a long time ago not to second guess Smiths' word choices . . . he is nearly infallible when it comes to word choices and usage.

Obviously, I posted this as a tribute to CAS in honor of his day of birth, but you do seem to have missed the point. However, no offense taken, and none intended! And I repeat "Happy birthday CAS!"
-Ron

Re: Happy Birthday, Klarkash-Ton!
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 15 January, 2011 03:07PM
Quote:
[CAS] is nearly infallible when it comes to word choices and usage.

Well, not really. A long time ago, I indicated CAS's erroneous (or at least pleonastic) use of the phrase "from whence". In his letters, he often misuses the noun loan instead of the verb lend. Sterling chides CAS at times for his misspellings.

In sum, the English language is far too difficult for anyone to use it even near perfectly. In the example cited above, though, we have to allow for poetic license, so I think that Ron is correct about murex.

Re: Happy Birthday, Klarkash-Ton!
Posted by: cathexis (IP Logged)
Date: 15 January, 2011 03:37PM
I missed nothing,Ron. And your efforts are
appreciated by me.

I hope you're not offended , but what I got
from it was I got and dared to reply. My only
defense is to suggest that anything which we
dare not criticise is not worth the defending
in the first place.

Of course, if my poor knowledge or experience
is to blame then I welcome your enlightenment.
I grant the "aguish" definition; My bad. But
one murex does not a celestial cloak make and
a pleasing scansion is no excuse for a poor
sensibility.

Last from me on this. Falling on my sword again,

Cathexis

Re: Happy Birthday, Klarkash-Ton!
Posted by: Ken K. (IP Logged)
Date: 15 January, 2011 04:48PM
Clark would probably be delighted that not only were people still reading his poems but also debating his choice of words!

Leafing through Strunk & White's The Elements of Style I find the following bit of advice: "Avoid fancy words...avoid the elaborate, the pretentious, the coy, and the cute. Do not be tempted by a twenty-dollar word when there is a ten-center handy, ready and able." Granted that Clark was never cute and rarely coy; he has been fighting accusations of being over-elaborate and pretentious for his entire career.

Would they have held up a copy of CAS to their students as a classic example of what not to do? Perhaps, but White sensibly goes on to qualify his dictum: "The question of ear is vital. Only the writer whose ear is reliable is in a position to use bad grammar deliberately; only he knows for sure when a colloquialism is better than formal phrasing; only he is able to sustain his work at the level of good taste. So cock your ear."

This would seem to hold true for any aspect of style. A skilled writer can break any rule effectively if he knows what he's doing. If you intend to use an immense vocabulary, it helps to be so familiar with it that you can pick the right word automatically. Of course, no one is perfect...even Jove nods (to quote Robert Heinlein).

Re: Happy Birthday, Klarkash-Ton!
Posted by: casofile (IP Logged)
Date: 16 January, 2011 12:17PM
cathexis Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I missed nothing,Ron. And your efforts are
> appreciated by me.
> I hope you're not offended , but what I got
> from it was I got and dared to reply. My only
> defense is to suggest that anything which we
> dare not criticise is not worth the defending
> in the first place.

Of course I'm not offended, tho I suppose I'm still confused as to your motivation in picking this poem apart in the first place. It's one of my favorites, and I've read it many times, but never once attempting to find fault in it but rather to learn from it. But there is no accounting for taste, and I respect your right to an opposing opinion. I also appreciate your efforts; you obviously put a good deal of thought and research into your post, and made many valid points. But I wonder if you've read the entire poem, in order to more fully grasp Smith's meaning; this could only make your criticism more valid.

> Last from me on this. Falling on my sword again,

Please, no sword-falling necessary here!

A final relevant quote: "Strange pleasures are known to him who flaunts the immarcescible purple of poetry before the color-blind."
-Ron

Re: Happy Birthday, Klarkash-Ton!
Posted by: cathexis (IP Logged)
Date: 17 January, 2011 05:01PM
I cannot resist another reply!

Ron,

Thank you for inspiring me to re-read the poem in its entirety.
So many layers to appreciate. I still find it a trifle over-heated
but I concede that it was not I who wrote it and CAS is not beholding
to my personal tastes.

I still have problems with the sensibility of some parts such as:

"Though we distill
Quintessences of hemlock or nepenthe,
We cannot slay the small, the subtle serpents."

Hemlock will slay, but a Nepenthe brings only forgtfullness or perhaps
eases pain. IIRC, in the "Odyssey" it is a remedy for grief. Another
point here is what does he really mean by the two drugs? If we mean
to slay real serpents then Hemlock might do but (a)Nepenthe would not.
If these adders be metaphors for our own condition I wouldn't recommend
quaffing *any* Hemlock although I've had my share of "nepenthes" over
the years.<wink,wink,nudge,nudge>. There are ways to make it work but
it just sounds like a stretch.

However,... I must concede the murex!
In re-reading I can see the sense of it. The same way we might write,
"The camel has served many a caravan past." A general, not particular
usage would be appropriate and is in keeping with the tone of CAS's poem.
I really enjoyed learning something and although I taught myself I am
grateful for your patient assistance, Ron.

Be Thou in Tyrian Purple clad,

Cathexis

Re: Happy Birthday, Klarkash-Ton!
Posted by: casofile (IP Logged)
Date: 17 January, 2011 06:50PM
Ave, Cathexis!

Yes, metaphor is the key. CAS is not discussing ways in which to kill snakes, but rather how to quiet the inner voices of doubt, self-worth, and our own mortality. I guess he could have said "We cannot drown our sorrows."

Smith worked on "Soliloquy in an Ebon Tower" for many years, and in many ways it represents his poetic testament. Smith was in doubt of his own achievements, his success; he devoted his entire life for his art, yet seemed to receive little compensation or recognition for his service to the Muse. So what, then, is the point of all this effort? In the passage I first quoted he answers this question:
"Yet for a toll so light, by Song transported, / To sail beyond Elysium and Theleme," and ending with "Thus we triumph, thus the laurel overtops / The upas and the yew; and we decline / No dolor of our votive doom." I believe that Smith is saying that the very act of imaginative creation is its own reward.

It is a very poignant, philosophical poem, and of course rich in metaphor and symbolism . . . I recommend reading it through several more times with these themes in mind!

"Be Thou in Tyrian Purple clad?" Yes indeed . . . in the same way Smith's prose is royally clad! Thanks for this!
-Ron

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