Letter to Frank Belknap Long

From Clark Ashton Smith

July 7th, 1923

My dear Long:

It seems incredible that I have had your last letter on my desk for over a month without answering it. I have been busy, for one thing...not, however, at poetry-writing—only at what the 100 per cent American would call "useful labour." Personally, I agree with De Gourmont that work is only a "sad necessity" at best. I can't understand the popular tendency to exalt and deify something that is usually disagreeable—or worse.

I suppose you are right about the northern peoples and their distrust of colour. Why don't you work out the theory in an essay? You could prove that poetry—like morality—is largely a matter of latitude.

I have seen a book called "The Hashesh-Eater," which was published by Harpers back in the fifties or sixties. The author called himself "The Pythagorean;" and the book was obviously written in imitation of De Quincey. I wonder if it is the name that you refer to... I remember one passage {following crossed out: (descriptive of hashish hallucinations)} in which the author described himself as hovering in the air above a floor lined with red-hot needles! No, I shouldn't advise you to tamper with hasheesh. The reaction is terrible, especially in those of a nervous temperment. I have never taken it myself, but I know several people who have. My friend George Sterling had a lot of the stuff in his possession at one time.

The poem you sent me ("Nostalgia") is melodious and haunting. I like it all, except the word "jellied." Why not use something like "woven," or "plighted," or "pleached" if you don't mind the suggestion.

Here are some more of my own verses.



Published in the Necronomicon Amateur Press Association, Mailing 8. 1978.

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