The Night Forest

Clark Ashton Smith

Incumbent seemingly
On the serrate points of peaks
That end the visible west,
The rounded moon yet floods
The valleys hitherward
With fall of torrential light,
Ere from the overmost
Dividing mountain-cusp
She slip to the lower dark.
But here, on an eastward slope
Pointed and thick with its pine,
The forest scarcely remembers
Her light that is gone as a vision
Or ecstasy too poignant
And perilous for duration.
Withdrawn in what darker web
Or dimension of dream I know not,
in silence pre-occupied
And solemnest rectitude,
The pines uprear, and no sigh
For the rapture of moonlight past
Comes from their bosom of boughs.
Far in their secrecy
I stand, and the burdenous dusk,
Dull, but at times made keen
With tingle of fragrances,
Falls on me as a veil
Between my soul and the world.
What veil of trance, O pines,
Divides you from my soul,
That I feel but enter not
Your distances of dream ?
Ah! strange, imperative sense
Of world-deep mystery
That shakes from out your boughs—
A fragrance keener still,
Piercing the inner mind.

The wind shall question you
Of the dream I may not gain,
And all its somberness
And depth immeasurable,
Shall tremble away in sound
Of speech not understood
That my heart must break to hear.

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