Nocturne: Grant Avenue

Clark Ashton Smith

The city's towers were limned in fire
When, down the long, the hill-descending street,
We rode as down some cataract of stars:
Our hearts replete
With that rebirth of wonder and desire,
We seemed to overpass the night's effulgent bars.

Quoting those lines of Baudelaire
On what delight the Town's old lovers seek,
I saw your face by subtler dreams illumed,
And heard you speak
Of how, amid that multifold parterre,
Beauty and mystery and evil softly bloomed.

Through us, in throbbing unison,
Strange pulses ran and secret powers thrilled
From all the thronging darkness hazardous:
We twain were one
As in remembered noons by rapture stilled
When all the forest fountains sang unheard of us.

And yet . . . how far from Arcady
And from the shores and dales of sylvan love! . . .
And yet . . . what ghostly train of nymph and Pan,
Goddess and dove,
Through the walled mazes followed you and me
From out that halcyon world in which our love began;

And, through the city's glare and sound,
What ghosts of faint hesternal flowers blew
And freshness home from woodlands far away:
Until, anew,
At parting in your long, deep kiss I found
The savor of sweet balm and spiced immortal bay.

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