Reading another story by Clark Ashton Smith, I would like to ask your help with the following sentence:

The rock of the whole mountain was strangely ruinous and black; but the city walls, though equally worn and riven, were conspicuous above it at a distance of leagues, being plainly of megalithic vastness.

After some research, I found out that "a distance of leagues" means something like very far or quite far, but I just cannot figure out how the very last part (, being plainly..) is meant. What would be a more prosaic way of saying this?

  • A league is an antiquated measure of distance (3.45234 miles), so more prosaically you might say the walls were plainly visible from many miles away. Aug 25 '20 at 14:28
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    Mega = big and lith = rock, so megalith = big rock, like a mountain. He’s trying to give a sense of scale that “vast” alone may not convey. Or maybe he was paid by the word...
    – StephenS
    Aug 25 '20 at 14:29
  • And megaliths are large ancient stones, a reference to the size and nature of the city walls. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megalith Aug 25 '20 at 14:29
  • @StephenS It's almost impossible to avoid overwritten prose when writing Lovecraftian horror. "Wow! Those are some big old stones. The End." doesn't really cut it.
    – richardb
    Aug 29 '20 at 17:25

Here is the sense of "being"" Collins "being"

  1. link verb
    Being is used in nonfinite clauses where you are giving the reason for something.
    It being a Sunday, the old men had the day off.
    Little boys, being what they are, might decide to play on it.

The meaning of "being plainly of megalithic vastness" means the same as "being obviously quite huge". It is an adjunct clause (it can be removed without making the sentence ungrammatical). It used to describe the walls.

The whole phrase

[walls] were conspicuous above it at a distance of leagues, being plainly of megalithic vastness.

may be glossed

the walls were quite visible above the mountain at a great distance, so they were obviously quite huge.

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