The Irremediable

Clark Ashton Smith

(Translated "from the French of Charles Pierre Baudelaire")


An Entity, an Eidolon,
Fallen from out some azure clime
Into a Styx of lead and slime
Nor star nor sun has looked upon;

A wandering angel indiscreet
Lost in the love of things difform,
Who down abysmal dreams of harm
Falls heating as great swimmers beat,

And fights in mortal anguish stark
Some eddy of a demon sea
That sings and shouts deliriously
And dances in the whirling dark;

A hapless man, bewitched, bewrayed,
Whose futile gropings fain would find,
In reptile-swarming darkness blind,
The lost light and the key mislaid;

A lost soul without lamp descending,
To whom the gulf-arisen smell
Betrays a dank, profounder hell
And railless fall of stars unending

Where slimy monsters ward the way,
Whose eyes of phosphor, luminous, large,
Make darker still the nighted marge.
Burning in hulks obscure for aye;

A vessel at the frozen pole
As in a trap of crystal caught,
And searching how her keel was brought
Thereto by fatal strait and shoal:—

Clear emblems, perfect similes
Of an irremediable doom,
That prove how well the Devil's loom
Can weave our somber destinies!


Self-mirrored, in close colloquy,
The heart its image sees in sooth:
The dark and lucid well of Truth
Where a star trembles lividly,

Flambeau of grace from sullen hells,
Pharos ironic and infernal,
Sole glory, solacement eternal—
A Conscience still in Evil dwells.

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