Opus 1613

Phillip A. Ellis

Hummingbirds mark in joyous airs
   his final place, shaded by trees
   standing to the west. Under leaves,
shading a mass of swallows, fares

a single spirit hearing hymns
   sung in an avian speech, holds
   a single finger forth that scolds
an ancient cat that stares at them.

This is the land his hands had held
   and sculpted into hard-cast shapes;
   no longer now his thought escapes
to fancies strange, distances eld.

Just as Oedipus, turned to rest
   blind upon Colonus' own soil,
   knew surcease of wandering, toil
and sunk his head upon his breast

in prayer before Chthonic powers,
   then stepped within the holy place,
   this spirit guards his town, a trace
that lightly stirs the simple flowers.

Down in this place, the mournful boulder
   bearing upon its brows the marks
   that speak, unto this city park
reminds us of the muses' bold heir,

yet though he rests from weary toil,
   yet though the simple flowers grow
    in shafts of sunlight that fall, glow,
this soul belongs to Auburn's soil,

this man belonged to Auburn, though
   its philistine ways stood as shores
   his ocean heart in vain would pour
upon. He saw its blossoms grow,

and held its bones beneath its soil,
   and heard its heart, and saw so deep,
   plunged in his hands, only to reap
years of small reward and toil.

Yet brought he forth from shallow earth
   orchids rich with beauty's delight,
   nightingales chaunting deep in the night,
haunting airs of Averoigne, worth,

brought he no rue to weave in wreathes,
   brought no evil malison dire,
   brought but the warming flame of fire
that limned his hymns assuaging grief.

This is his land, the stone proclaims,
   we are his children, daisies sing,
   brooklets chaunt his music, and bring
with breezes the lais within his name.

Here?s the tomb of Clark Ashton Smith?
   marked not by stones nor words all still,
   but Auburn's life that made him thrill,
the life of bird, of bloom, of leaf.

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