The Garden and the Tomb

Clark Ashton Smith

I know a garden of flowers-flowers lovely and marvellous and multiform as the orchids of far, exotic worlds-as the flowers of manifold petal, whose colours change as if by enchantment in the alternation of the triple suns; flowers like tiger lilies from the garden of Satan; like the paler lilies of Paradise, or the amaranths on whose perfect and immortal beauty the seraphim so often ponder; flowers fierce and splendid like the crimson or golden flowers of fire; flowers bright and cold as the crystal flowers of snow; flowers whereof there is no likeness in any world of any sun; which have no symbol in heaven or in hell.

Alas! in the heart of the garden is a tomb-a tomb so trellised and embowered with vine and blossom, that the sunlight reveals the ghastly gleam of its marble to no careless or incurious scrutiny, But in the night, when all the flowers are still, and their perfumes are faint as the breathing of children in slumber-then, and then only, the serpents bred of corruption crawl from the tomb, and trail the fetor and phosphorescence of their abiding-place from end to end of the garden.

June 9, 1915.

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