Epigrams and Apothegms

Clark Ashton Smith

The commonest and gravest error of modernity lies in believing that antiquity is dead.

The forms and themes of poetry do not become outworn or exhausted. The exhaustion is in the individual poets.

It is a truism of the mystics that "as things are above, so are they below." This raises a speculation as to just how far above, or how far below, the ecstasy of the mystics has carried them.

In the province of love, too much attention has been paid to ethics and not enough to esthetics.

Said Smygo, the iconoclast of Zothique: "Bear a hammer with thee always, and break down any terminus on which is written: "So far shalt thou pass but no farther go.''

Explanations are neither necessary, desirable, nor possible.

Philosophy: a sort of intellectual gymnastics.

Sophistication is the daughter of knowledge but not of wisdom.

Let us deal gently with our dead illusions, in the hope that they will also deal gently with us.

There are people who submerge themselves in surfaces, and drown in mirror-reflections.

The salvation of the barnyard fowl is the damnation of the eagle.

There are those who believe that the veil of Isis is a petticoat.

The modern intolerance toward what is called "painted speech," toward "the grand manner," springs too often from the instinctive resentment inspired in vulgar minds by all that savors of loftiness, exaltation, nobility, sublimity and aristocracy.

Personifications, when used in poetry should be vitalized in some signal way.

All human thought, all science, all religion, is the holding of a candle to the night of the universe.

The rebels of one age may become the reactionaries of the next. Rebellion, after all, is relative: it is merely a matter of disputing whatever happens to be prevalent or in a position of authority.

Rebel, fear the results of a successful revolution, which may turn you into a tyrant. From dreams of such success, awake in terror, like Anatole France's Satan from the dream in which he became God.

There are poets whose obscurity consists in the fact that they perceive analogies and correspondences too remote or arcanic to be discerned by others.

Keats, speaking of poetry, advocated the principle of "loading the rifts with gold." In latter times a new principle has been discovered, that of loading the gold with rifts. It has led to the winning of many poetry prizes.

Question all truisms. Error may be as universal as the air, and truth (if it exists) may inhere in some forgotten or disregarded belief. (Viz: Baudelaire's "unknown god.")

X, the unknown quantity. Deductions, drawn from logic that seems irrefutable, may be erroneous because X was not perceived and taken into account. Query: how many X's has science ignored or overlooked?

Certain minerals, colorless in ordinary light, are fluorescent under black light.

It is a ghastly but tenable proposition that the world is now ruled by the insane, whose increasing plurality will, in a few more generations, make probable the incarceration of all sane people born among them

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