The Harlot of the World

Clark Ashton Smith

O Life, thou harlot who beguilest all!
Beautiful in thy house, the golden world.
Abidest thou, where Powers pinion-furled
And flying Splendors follow to thy call.

Innumerous like the stars or like the dust,
Nations and monarchs were thy thralls of yore:
Unto the grave's old womb forevermore
Hast thou betrayed the passion and the lust.

Fair as the moon of summer is thy face,
And mystical with cloudiness of hair. . . .
Only an eye, subornless by delight,

Shall find, within thy phosphorescent gaze,
Those caverns of corruption and despair
Where the Worm toileth in the charnel night.

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