The Black Book: Addenda

Clark Ashton Smith

A Note For The Black Book: Addenda

The Black Book is the notebook or commonplace book used by Clark Ashton Smith for a period of about thirty years from about 1929 to 1961, and published by Arkham House in 1979. Subsequent to the author's death in mid-August 1961, two of Smith's friends and admirers, Rah Hoffman and Donald Sidney Fryer, deciphered, transcribed, and edited all the literary matter in the notebook during the autumn of the same year. Almost three years after the original transcription, Sidney-Fryer discovered, deciphered, and transcribed the following additions to The Black Book during June 1964 while visiting the home (in Auburn, California) of Robert B. Elder, who had them in his possession among boxes of materials temporarily entrusted to his care by Smith's widow, the former Carol Jones Dorman. Such brief, unfinished, or fragmentary notes could very well have formed part of it at the time of his death. The importance of the notes for Ebony and Crystal, his third collection of poetry, need only be mentioned. The "Elegy for Vixeela" is apparently the work-draft for the finished poem of the same name. The three final pieces or fragments of verse, evidently written ca. 1954-1961, show Smith in a surprisingly but pleasantly human aspect. The "VB" indicates "violet" and "black," or "blue-black," refering to the color of ink used. The "A" indicates "addendum." A plus-sign following a title within a list titles means that CAS completed the item in question.

The Black Book: Addenda

Items VB: 1--5 were found on three pages of notes, and were evidently extracted originally from that type of small notebook that is sewn at the top; the notes were written in a small fine hand in violet and black, or blue-black, ink; proably ca. 1918--1922.


{Titles for poems in prose and verse, some included in Ebony and Crystal.)

The ^Secret^ [Phantom] Rose + {1}
The Barge of Ebony {2}
Remoteness + {3}
Music (4)
From the Lotus-Land {5}
Anthony {See item VB: 5:1} {6}
Incense + {7}
^A^ Coronal + {8}
Nostalgia {Probably the same as "Nostalgia of the Unknown."} {9}
The Tears of ^Lilith^ {Circe} {10}
White Peacocks {11}
The Sigh of the Lotus + {12}
Landscapes {13}
Red Lilies {14}
The Fountain {15}
Images + {16}
A Dream of Lethe + {17}
The Mirror in the Hall of Ebony {18}
Ode to Ashtoroth {19}
Ave Atque Vale + {20}
The Funeral Urn + {21}
Alexandrines+ {22}
To Lydia {23}
White Coral {24}
Vignettes + {25}


{Titles for Ebony and Crystal, id est, the volume itself}

The Flowers of Night {Probably suggested by The Flowers of Evil by Baudelaire.} (1)
^Ebony^ [Ivory {?}] and ^Bronze^ [Cinnabar] {2}
Lotus-leaf and Asphodel {3}
Ebony and ^Crystal^ [Myrrh) {4}


With gems and filigrane
Engaud the [pure and] marble beauty of the moon.


Where the brazen griffins guard
From the satin-footed pard,
And the lion of the sands,
All the wealth of [lonely] ^elder^ [ancient] lands—
Rich and unremembered things,—
Tombs and crowns of crumbled kings,
Ebon lutes with silver strings,
Pearls, and ivory, and nard.


{Titles for poems, some included in Ebony and Crystal.}

Sandalwood {2}
Consummation {3}
Secret Love + {4}
Revenance {5}
Moments {6}
The Peacock Gown {7}
A Prayer to Isis {8}
The Witch with the Heart of Amber {Probably first title for "The Witch with Eyes of Amber") {9}
Gifts {10}
Amaranth {11}
Summer Dawn {12}
The Songs of Marsyas {13}
The Hidden Paradise + {14}


{Item A:1 was written in an almost indecipherable scribbled longhand in black ink; probably ca. 1953-1954. "Elegy for Vixeela" was intended originally as the heading for the tale "The Theft of the Thirty-Nine Girdles."}

O dauntless child of beauty and of dross,
^My verdant love enzones thy lonely tomb.^
[Love, like a verdant vine, clings round thy tomb.]
^like some eternal^ [Thy spectre like a] sunset brave with gold,
The perils and the glamor shared of old
Outsoars corruption and the ^restless^ [mordant] mould.
     -- Fetlain's Elegy for Vixeela

{7 lines above, including title, crossed out.)

O dauntless child of beauty and of dross,
My verdant love ^surrounds^ [enzones] thy lonely tomb
With secret, proud florescence and perfume.
Like some ^delaying^ [eternal] sunset, brave with gold,
The ^glamor^ [perils] and the ^perils^ [glamor] shared of old
Outsoar ^the shrunken empire of the mould^ [corruption and the mould].
     -- Elegy for Vixeela

Thy name, an ^invocation^ [incantation], calls to light
Dead moons, and draws from ^long [far,] outdated^ [out hesternal] night,
The rosy-^breasted^ [bowered] [phantom] spectre of delight.

Thy name, an incantation, calls to light
^Lost^ [Dead] glories from ^the [catafalques] of night^ [time-abolish]
And many a crimson spectre of delight.

{3 lines above crossed out.}

{NOTE: Two early drafts of "The Theft of the Thirty-Nine Girdles" indeed began with the poem "Lament for Vixeela." The title used for the earlier of the two appearances was "Elegy of Satampra Zeiros for Vixeela," and the poem read as follows:

Vixeela, daughter of beauty and of doom!
Thy name, an invocation, calls to light
Dead moons, and draws from overdated night
The rosy-bosomed spectre of delight.
Like some delaying sunset, brave with gold,
The glamors and the perils shared of old
Outsoar the shrunken empire of the mould.

For its second appearance the first line was removed, and the poem "Lament for Vixeela. "—S. B.}


Ripe Mulberries*

{ca. 1954--1961}

Under the spreading mulberry tree
When the purple fruit was falling free,
I got horny and had some nooky
With my hot cooky
And she had some with me.

*God damn! the cleaner's bill!


{ca. 1954-1961}

The grass too we truncate
Into flat uniform monotonous lawns.
And man too must amputate himself and his fellows
To fit the procrustean beds,
To pass beneath the low lintels,
And along the ^cramped^ [straitened] ways of conformity.


{ca. 1954-1961}

But the Russians still rule the barranca
And a man there is never alone—
For the Soviet agents will peep down his pockets
And run a periscope far up his ass-hole.

^xxx^ xxx was added by Smith.
[xxx] xxx was deleted by Smith.
{xxx} conjecture or commentary by editor (Donald Sidney-Fryer)

Bibliographic Citation

Top of Page