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The Complete Poetry and Translations | Clark Ashton Smith


Image of The Complete Poetry and Translations | Clark Ashton Smith
  • Image of The Complete Poetry and Translations | Clark Ashton Smith
  • Image of The Complete Poetry and Translations | Clark Ashton Smith
Edited by S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz
1307 pages (three volumes)
ISBN 978-1-61498-048-3

In its entirety, Clark Ashton Smith’s work stands as one of the great literary contributions to twentieth-century poetry. This edition prints, for the first time, Smith’s entire poetic work, including hundreds of uncollected and unpublished poems. The poems have been arranged chronologically by date of writing, so far as can be ascertained. All poems have been textually corrected by consultation with manuscripts and early appearances, and have been extensively annotated by editors S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz. This edition also contains an exhaustive commentary on all the poems and a complete title and first line index.

Volume 1: The Abyss Triumphant
The first volume includes poetry from the first two to three decades of Smith’s career, when he published such noteworthy volumes as The Star-Treader (1912), Ebony and Crystal (1922), and Sandalwood (1925). Smith’s early work was written under the tutelage of the celebrated California poet George Sterling, but Smith quickly surpassed his mentor in the writing of cosmic and lyric verse. Smith’s greatest poetic triumph, perhaps, was The Hashish-Eater, a poem of nearly 600 lines that strikingly evokes the myriad suns of unbounded space and the baleful monsters that may lurk therein. But Smith could also write such touching elegies as “Requiescat in Pace,” a dirge for a woman whose death affected him deeply.

Volume 2: The Wine of Summer
The second volume of Clark Ashton Smith’s complete original poetry contains the poems he wrote in the decades following the death in 1926 of his early mentor, George Sterling. Although much affected by Sterling’s passing, Smith carried on in his poetic work, seeking new modes of expression and expanding his range beyond the cosmic and lyrical verse that had dominated his early career. Having taught himself French in the mid-1920’s Smith began composing original poems in French. After focusing primarily on the writing of fantastic fiction from 1925–35, he resumed his poetic output with such masterworks as The Hill of Dionysus. In the late 1940’s he experimented with haiku, and in the 1950’s having taught himself Spanish, he wrote numerous original poems in Spanish. Also among his later output are a number of witty satires on the vagaries of modern poetry. This volume also includes indices of all of Smith's original poetry.

Volume 3: The Flowers of Evil and Others The third volume presents, for the first time, Smith’s complete translations in French and Spanish, also printing the French and Spanish texts on facing pages. In addition to being a prolific and innovative poet in his own right, Clark Ashton Smith was a noted translator of French and Spanish poetry. Teaching himself French in the mid-1920s, Smith undertook the ambitious program of translating the entirety of Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil) into English. Over the next several years he succeeded in translating all but six of the 157 poems that comprised the definitive (1868) edition of Les Fleurs du mal. His mentor George Sterling testified to the remarkable spiritual affinity between Smith and Baudelaire, rendering him the perfect translator of this difficult poet. Smith also translated other noteworthy French poets—Paul Verlaine, Victor Hugo, Alfred de Musset, and Théophile Gautier, among others—as well as such obscure poets as Marie Dauguet and Tristan Klingsor. In the 1940s Smith taught himself Spanish, making splendid verse translations of such poets as Amado Nervo, Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, and and Jorge Isaacs. The great majority of the poems included in his volume are unpublished.
Clark Ashton Smith (1893–1961) is a towering figure in American poetry and in the literature of fantasy and horror. Born and raised in California, Smith early fell under the tutelage of George Sterling, and later established friendships with H. P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, Benjamin de Casseres, and other leading figures. His tales of exotic fantasy have achieved a worldwide audience, while his meticulously crafted poetry, published by Hippocampus Press in a complete edition for the first time, establishes him as a leading poetic voice in his time.