Letter to George Sterling

From Clark Ashton Smith

Auburn, Calif.,
June 9th, 1912.

My dear Friend:

I think you are the "outstanding comrade." I'm sincerely surprised by your judgement of Nero, even though I find, on re-reading it, that it doesn't seem as bad as I thought it was . . . I had to work so hard getting the thing into any kind of shape, that I suppose no possible achievement could have seemed to me commensurate with the effort. I aim too unattainably high, I fear. Keats was dissatisfied with Hyperion, I believe (don't suspect me of thinking there's any point to the analogy beyond the dissatisfaction.)

It's very kind of you to offer to loan me carfare (of course it is a loan, and I hope to repay it soon.) And, I fear I'll have to accept. But I can't come down, it would seem, for perhaps two weeks yet. My father is not at all well at present, and there is some work that has to be done before I can leave this impested haunt of Philistines and rattlesnakes.

The fare to San Francisco from here is $3.65. But why couldn't I come straight through via Niles and Santa Cruz? The total fare that way is $5.85. I want to visit San Francisco on the way back, but I don't care about passing through it twice.

Many, many thanks to you for the lovely volume of Nora May French's poems. They're all wonderful, and some of them have stirred me more than anything I have seen, in many a day. I love them all . . . And that wonderful face! I think this little book should live, if the love of poetry survives the materialistic smother of the present age. And I'm glad it's so well gotten out, in this day of meretriciously bound and cheaply printed books. There's no discord between the cover and the contents.

I like your "Grand Canyon" sonnet. The sestet is great, particularly the last two lines. And I fancy it conveys the impression of the place pretty well. Your "Voice of the Dove" haunts one, and I think you've succeeded in echoing the call. I wish you'd try something longer-another narrative poem like Duandon, or an Ode like that on the Browning Centenary, which is a big thing ---

I have begun a narrative poem entitled "The Titans Triumphant", but I may not do much more with it at present. It will inevitably be rather Miltonic. After I've had a good look at the sea, I think of attempting a poem on the voyage of Magellan. It should be a good subject, and I do not remember having seen it touched on in poetry, though Columbus has had rather more than his due.

I like Schauffler. He's a fine, inspiring sort, and I enjoyed his visit a good deal. He is a bit orthodox, though, as you say. I fear he was very much shocked by my views on suicide, and some other subjects, such as European immigration. He's recovered from his college education better than most do, I think.

As ever, Your friend,
Clark Ashton Smith

Originally published in Mirage, 10 (1971), pp. 63-70.

Printed from: www.eldritchdark.com/writings/correspondence/6
Printed on: November 19, 2017