Clark Ashton Smith

Empress of all my life, it is not known to thee
What hidden world thou holdest evermore in fee;
What muffled levies rise, from mist and Lethe drawn,

Waging some goblin war at thy forgotten whim;
What travelers in lone Cimmeria, drear and dim,
Follow the rumor of thy face toward the dawn.

Plain are those nearer lands whereon thou lookest forth,
Thy fields upon the south, thy cities in the north:
But vaster is that sealed and subterraneous realm.

High towers are built for thee with hushed demonian toil
In dayless lands, and furrows drawn through a dark soil,
And sable oceans crossed by many an unstarred helm.

Though unto thee is sent a tribute of fine gold
By them that delve therefor, never shalt thou behold
How the ore is digged in mines too near to Erebus;

Though strange Sabean myrrh within thy censers fume,
Thou shalt not ever guess the Afrit-haunted gloom
Whence the rich balm was won with labor perilous.

Occulted still from thee, thy power is on lost things,
On alien seraphim that seek with desperate wings,
Flown from their dying orb, the confines of thy heaven;

Yea, still thy whisper moves, and magically stirs
To life the shapeless dust in shattered sepulchers;
And in dark bread and wine thou art the untold leaven.

But never shalt thou dream how in some far abysm
Thy lightly spoken word has been an exorcism
Driving foul spirits from a wanderer bewrayed;

With eyes fulfilled of noon, haply thou shalt not see
How, in a land illumed by suns of ebony,
Beneath thy breath the fiery shadows flame and fade.

Bibliographic Citation

Top of Page