The Palace of Jewels

Clark Ashton Smith

Fronting the sea's blue chambers fluctuant —
Those floors of azure, marble veined with foam —
It rears, a golden palace culminant
In cusp of tower and round of dome.

Naught but the ocean's music echoes there;
No lutes pervade its halls with mirth and sigh,
And glances lone, through close and pleasance fair,
The velvet, figured butterfly.

Within, in silence tapestried and old,
And dusk that lingers through the widest day,
Are heapéd treasure-chests that, spilling, hold
Jewels of iris-changéd ray.

Here caskets weirdly wrought are prodigal
Of hue-tempestuous opals, and the fire,
A pulse of crystal in the somber hall,
Wherewith the diamonds aspire,

Deep sapphires, clouded to the core with blue,
Beryls that blend the fire of sky and sea;
And slumberous rubies, with a burst of hue,
Arousing intermittently.

They wage a truceless war within the gloom,
Each with its swift and varying beam for lance —
A kindling strife that runs from room to room,
With hues that waver or advance.

The diamonds' front of shifting onset leaps
Where lambent rubies lurk athwart, with spears in sunset dipt —
each line a flame that creeps,
Alternate glows and disappears.

A flare that stabs, like some keen battle-call
Upstartles 'mid the hesitating strife;
With rush of beams that clash, triumph, or fall,
The jewels leap to myriad life.

Against the gloom their irised swords unite,
With shadow-sundering blades and points that fret.
From flickering looms they scatter wefts of light,
To catch the dusk as in a net.

Uneasily the twilight-edges start
Before the balas ruby's orange ire,
Or mimic lightning from the diamond's heart.
Whose blood is everlasting fire.

Poured through the vessels of their alchemy,
The daylight is become a gorgeous thing —
A flame that soars and falls unquietly,
A spirit of a coloured wing.

What dawns and sunsets march from room to room
Beneath the noon or twilight of the sky!
What jewels fed with many suns illume,
Make each a mimic day, and die!

Like blood within a vein, the sunlight swirls,
Racing from gem to gem, with fires that wed
Mysterious, ocean-sad, dream-haunted pearls,
And heliotropes stabbed through with red,

Or run where vistaed amethysts enfold
Their flame with purple of some vague confine,
And overbrimming ruby-flagons hold
The light like some deep-glowing wine.

Through evening halls the scattered jewels burn
Like broken chains of fire within the night,
Till comes the moon, and from her heavenly urn,
Bestows a stream of subtler light

On gems that seem some clear and stellar dew,
Orbed in the regions past the springs of morn;
And gems like magic flowers that fold anew
In lands beyond the sunset-bourn.

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