Clark Ashton Smith

(From Christophe des Laurières)


He, the supreme idealist of Sin,
Through scarlet days a white perfection sought—
To make of lyric deed and lyric thought
One music of perverse accord, wherein
The songless blatancy and banal din
Of all the world should perish: he had wrought
From Vice a pure, Pentelic Venus, fraught
With lines of light and terror, that should win
The plaudits of the stars. . . . But prevalent
For him, above the achievable desire,
And Life perfectible by Sin and Art,
Such lusts as leave the Titans impotent
Allured, and Life and Sin, in worlds apart,
Were fair with suns of quintessential fire.


For him the mystery whose name is Love
Took many veils and vestures, haunting him
Through subtle, chill, uncertain loin and limb
Of lesbians pale as Aphrodite's dove;
Or in the doubtful thighs and bosom of
Hermaphroditus, fugitive and dim;
Or his own face, on autumn pools aswim
Through windless shadows of a golden grove.

The vestal moon, the violating sun,
For him were made Love's metamorphoses;
Till, flown from these, as from the forms of old,
The god was gone in worlds beyond access,
With flame-ensculptured bosom found of none,
And eyes too bright with inenarrable gold.

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