The Sleep of the Condor

Clark Ashton Smith

(From Leconte De Lisle

Above the stairs of the steep Cordilleras,
Above the clouds that the black eagles haunt,
Higher than the summits hollowed Out in craters
Where boils the blood-like flux of familiar lavas,
With hanging spread of wings whose tips are reddened,
The huge Bird, full of heavy, mournful indolence,
Looks down in silence on America and space
And on the somber sun expiring in his bleak eyes.
The night rolls from the east, where the wild pampas
Under terraced mountains endlessly expands;
It lulls to sleep the towns and shores of Chile
And the Pacific seas and the supernal horizon;
It is possessed of the silent continent:
From ocean-sand to upland hill, from chasm to slope,
From summit to summit swells, in whirlpools ever-widening,
Its high and heavy tide overflowing all.
He, like a specter lone, on the brow of the haughty peak,
Bathed by a gleam that bleeds upon the snow,
Awaits the sinister sea beleaguering him.
It comes, and bursts, and covers him entire.
In gulfs that have no bourn the Southern Cross has kindled
Its constellated pharos on the heavenly coast.
He breathes with a rattle of pleasure, he shakes his plumes,
He erects his muscular and naked neck,
He lifts, lashing the hard snow of the Andes,
With a hoarse cry he mounts where never wind attains,
And far from the dark globe, far from the living world,
He sleeps in the icy air on his great wings.

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