The Nereid

Clark Ashton Smith

Her face the sinking stars desire:
Unto her place the slow deeps bring
Shadow of errant winds that wing
O'er sterile gulfs of foam and fire.

Her beauty is the light of pearls.
AII stars and dreams and sunsets die
To make the fluctuant glooms that lie
Around her; and low noonlight swirls

Down ocean's firmamental deep
To weave for who glimmers there
Elusive visions, vague and fair;
And night is as a dreamless sleep:

She has not known the night's unrest
Nor the white curse of clearer day;
The tremors of the tempest play
Like slow delight about her breast.

The berylline pallors of her face
Illume the kingdom of the drowned.
In her the love that none has found,
The unflowering rapture, folded grace,

Await some lover strayed and lone,
Some god misled, who shall not come
Though the decrescent seas lie dumb
And sunken in their wells of stone.

But nevermore of him, perchance,
Her enigmatic musings are,
Whose purpling tresses float afar
In grottoes of the last romance.

Serene, an immanence of fire
She dwells for ever, ocean-thralled,
Soul of the sea's vast emerald.
Her face the sinking stars desire.

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Printed on: October 30, 2020