In the Desert

Clark Ashton Smith

I met the night in unfamiliar lands,
In realmless desolations, drear and far,
Where no life was, nor any shard remained
Of tomb or cenotaph: all salient things
Long since had fed the prone monotony
Of the null forgetful sands. Here darkness carne
Directly as a king who mounts the throne
Of some Cimmerian primogeniture.
A waif of day, I wandered beneath stars
That seemed the unnumbered steely eyes of Death
Seeking the lost necropoles.

A wind
Rose loudly on the middle night, and passed,
Laden with nameless, immemorial dust,
The shapeless ghost of empires. In that dark
Alien and secret as the heart of death,
I knew not if the wind, remembering
Walls that were great upon its ancient way,
Sang now their threnody, or if the dust,
Tongueless itself, found in the shrilling wind
A tongue for its regret. I, wandering there,
Felt but the dust's unseen, mysterious kiss,
Heard but the grievous wind. . . . So have I known
Lost visions vaguely grasp at memory
And fall back unrecalled. . . . Then, laden still
With sorrow and with dustiness of Eld,
Stirring the desert dark, the wind went on
To leave its dwindling burden at the feet
Of splendid morning unendurable.

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