The Titans in Tartarus

Clark Ashton Smith

Low in the far-flung shadow of the world,
Under the moveless stretch of glooms great-wing'd
That brood the abyss, vague Tartarus lapsed remote
Through zones of spatial silence. Night and Time,
Agreeing once, had made thereof a place
Imediate unto Chaos, and removed
>From temporal clamor and terrestrial hush,
In gulfs world-sundered from the sun. Far up
Light was, a gossamer of frailest blue,
Above the lift of Cyclopean walls,
And flight of crags incredible through heavens
Of darkness, and ethereal space of eve,
Sheer, everlasting. But within the abyss
The silence of the death of suns was come,
And the far light seemed as the ghost of days
Flown and forgotten; or as memory
Sent through the drifts of drear Oblivion
To the forgetful dead. But unto them,
The fall'n Titanic gods disconsolate,
It shone as might a throne supreme and lost -
Phantasmal, unattainable, athwart
The chasm of downfall and defeat. Apart
In the waste darkness round, the purblind air
Scarcely their presence each to each betrayed,
Who, to the gaze of those but newly fallen,
Had seemed as clouds upon a moonless midnight -
Black, formless, without substance, motionless.
The flaming tumult of disastrous fight,
Talking their outward fire, had left them bleak
As their own statues, who yet ached within.
And battle-splendours gloomed with rust were strewn
Around them, where the darkness heeded not
If rust or clearest splendours were: downcast
Were ineffectual blade and useless mail,
Left to the barren and devouring dust
That knew not nor should know the sun.

The change, from impact and surprise of strife -
From the embattled world, where searing war
Had lately flamed through indecisive lands
Open to sun and stars - to this drear deep,
This unity of night and misery,
Of desolation, silence, and defeat
Intolerable, sure. Speechless beneath
That gloom the Titans lay, where like the strong
Suspense of noiseless and enormous wings,
Immediate breathless menace infinite,
Came hideous, myriad-eyed Despair. With minds
Tortured, and anguished gaze, they saw the dark
Writhe to unnumbered forms of subtlest fear,
Such terrors as attend the night of suns
For the strange impotence of gods dethroned,
The face of Chaos with a thousand leers,
And phantoms pointing at eternal gulfs.

Dark with defeat, gigantically dumb,
Like Memnons morningless, that have survived
The dawn-voiced vibrant sun's last silencing,
The Titans waited. Time, that hath for hue
In the swift light and cloud-surprise of Change,
All iris that enchants the sunset foam,
Now, with grey silence clad, dismal and slow,
Through the grey darkness waned, as one that hath
No hope, foreworn upon an endless way.
All desolation and all hopelessness
Had hushed, it seemed, a deep that was the tomb -
So huge that dark - of all magnificence,
├ćons of splendour, whole antiquities
Of Time-forgotten glories. There the gods,
Sleepless in midst as of Oblivion,
Abiding, fronted anguish infinite,
And all the strong renewal of despair
Throughout Tartarean, dark eternity.

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