From the Crypts of Memory (Text taken from original manuscripts)

Clark Ashton Smith

Aeons of aeons ago, in an epoch whose marvellous worlds have crumbled, and whose mighty suns are less than shadow, I dwelt in a star whose course, decadent from the high, irremeable heavens of the past, was even then verging upon the abyss in which, said astronomers, its immemorial cycle should find a dark and disastrous close.

Ah, strange was that gulf-forgotten star-how stranger than any dream of dreamers in the present, or than any vision that hath risen upon visionaries in their retrospection of the universal Past: There, thru inestimable cycles of a history whose records were beyond the computation of savants, the dead had come to infinitely outnumber the living: And, reared of a stone not destructible save in the enormous furnace of suns, their cities rose beside those of the living like Titan metropoli whose mighty precincts have begun to overgloom the vicinal villages. And over all was the black, funereal vault of the cryptic heavens - a dome of infinite shadows wherein the dismal sun, suspended like a sole, enormous lamp, failed to illumine, and, drawing back its fires from the face of the irresolvable ether, threw a baffled and despairing beam on the vague, remote horizons, and shrouded vistas interminate of the visionary land.

We were a sombre, melancholy people, who dwelt beneath the palls twilight and silence thrown about the towering tombs and monuments of the Past. In our veins was the chill of the ancient night of Time, with a premonition of the lentor of Lethe: over us, like invisible vampires, brooded the innumerous hours on their sable and unremoving pinions: the very skies were fraught with oppression, and we breathed beneath them as in a sepulcher, forever sealed with all its stagnancies of corruption and of darkness.

Vaguely we lived, and loved as in dreams-the dim and mystic dreams that hover upon the verge of unfathomable sleep. We felt for our women, with their pale and spectral beauty, the same desire that the dead may feel for the phantom lilies of Hadean meads. Our days were spent in roaming through the ruins of lone and immemorial cities, or in the vast and shadowy fanes from whose awful and everlasting glooms of elder mystery, the simulachres of century-forgotten gods looked forth with unalterable eyes on the hopeless heavens, and saw but night and oblivion. Or, wandering through ashen fields of perennial autumn, we found the flowers of wan funebrial immortelles, that wept with a melancholy dew by the flowing silence of Acherontic waters.

And one by one we died, and were lost in the dust of accumulated time. We knew the years as a passing of shadows, and death itself as the yielding of twilight unto night.

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