No. 118 (essentialsaltes) wrote,
No. 118

Poems in Prose by Clark Ashton Smith

A slim volume from Arkham House containing short-short images, vignettes and fables (I believe they're all available (if typo-riddled) online at Eldritch Dark). The book contains an interminable foreword by Fryer, and several Utpatel illustrations.
Clark Ashton Smith's prose is usually pretty dense, but these prose poems take it further than most. I found that scanning along these things at newspaper reading speed, I'd zip-zip-zip through a paragraph without the faintest idea what I just read. They really force you to slow down and read carefully, a skill sadly atrophied within the lonesome latter years.
Some are disconnected images and not terribly interesting on their own, while others are fine little fables. Like his verse, a number of these pieces read like romantic mash-notes that he sent to his ladyfriends. One of the many differences between Smith and Lovecraft, who -- when writing to a female correspondent -- was more likely to pen a ten page treatise on the use of the Doric order in 18th century Rhode Island architecture. Anyway...

The Mithridate

The world has a thousand poisons, thin or potent, honey-like or nauseous, quick or languid, corrosive and deadly, or captious and deceptive and narcotic. There are poisons bright as an amber wine, or rich as blood or rubies, or clear and hueless and innocent- seeming as the water of untroubled lakes, or dark and turbid as the ooze of the nether sea. There are poisons that slay the soul, that slay the heart or the mind or the body, and others that never slay, but only torture and benumb.

Against all these, your love is the sovereign mithridate; and indeed, I have never found any other.

But when you love me not, or love me ill, I am powerless against them; and even love itself becomes an immedicable poison- a poison that is doubly lethal because it kills so slowly, or does not kill at all.

Dude was smooth, is all I'm sayin'.
Tags: book

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