Poetry of the Pacific Coast-California
By George Sterling
A younger and immensely imaginative singer is Clark Ashton Smith, the story of whose triumph with his neighbors, when hundreds of copies of his first book of verses were promptly bought up in a small California hill town, is a romance in itself. He is the author of The Star-Treader, Odes and Sonnets, Ebony and Crystal, and Sandalwood. His mood and writing are in sharp contrast to the realism of Sandburgian atmosphere. No idealization, in his woodland music, of the great machine of today, rather a turning away from industrialism and, as Max Nordau would say, the lies of civilization. He sings:
Let us leave the hateful town
With its stale, forgotten lies;
Far beneath renewing skies,
Where the piny slope goes down,
All with April love and laughter—
None to leer and none to frown—
We shall pass and follow after
Shattered lace of water spun
On a steep and stony loom
Down the paths of laurel-gloom.
A disciple of Poe and Baudelaire, he has gone as far into the regions of the weird and terrible as either of the elder poets. For what is called "pure" poetry, one shall search for his equal in vain among contemporary poets.