Ode to Matter

Clark Ashton Smith

O tissued fabric of the frame of things,
Thou art an alternating tide,
And Life a moment's foam
Thy shifting wave upflings.
Billowed with suns and worlds that roam
Where winds of Force direct with driving wings
Thy depths immingle and divide —
A sea whereto the gulfs as shores abide.
In peaceless rounds of change,
Thy forms irrevocably flee:
Inevitable laws estrange
All shapes of stars and worlds that be,
And like a mist's inconstant fantasy,
Ensphered anew, as alien forms they range.
Lo! here a sun is smitten into night —
One with the cosmic mire;
And yonder startles into fire
The dust of stars destroyed,
Whose quickened worlds resume their ancient flight,
Till arms of darkness, rising from the void,
Drag down the pillared suns again;
And other systems rise and wane,
Rebuilt from star and asteroid.

Lo! is there end
Or rest unto thy toil —
Thou who createst many forms,
Yet none that stay, of all thy fruitful soil?
Shall all the terms of living suns extend
And find thy labour incomplete?

All storms
Where stars irreparably meet
Prepare not thy potential field
Unto some larger yield
Than aught the systems show— some fruit more great-
Some flower ultimate?
Thine atoms pour
Through moulds of many worlds and suns,
As they have passed
In years beyond all memory and lore;
As they shall flee while Time his orbit runs,
Along abysmal aeons cast.

What strivest thou to build
With dust of systems reared and rent,
And flame of suns blown out and lit again?
Dost toil with hands as yet unskilled
To some obscurely known intent,
Far-sought through mists of weariness and pain?
Ah, dare we dream
That thou shalt dream no fairer thing than man,
No higher world than this?
That from thine unexplorable abyss
No stronger Life shall rise supreme,
Wrought from rejected dust whereof began
All former Life —
The dust remoulded through abyssal strife
Within the suns' uncompassable scheme?

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