Spectral Life

Clark Ashton Smith

I was a long-while an ancient phantom,
Floating light as an aroma
Around mine ancient tombs
And over mausoleums
Upborne by winged women
On their backs of strange mineral.

I have met pale queens
And nymphs a little spectral
Whom I have known in some antiquity
Remoter than the far-off spheres;
I have breathed the spectres vain
Of roses dead for many a year.

I have dwelt upon an earth
That was no more than ashes and dust;
With the flowers of withered autumns,
Amid the unflowing shadows,
I have known, exiguous and stagnant,
The stench of gods decayed.

My nights were nights long overpasts,
Were nights with frosted moons,
And my days were all dark yesterdays;
The things long lost,
And remembrances confused,
Appeared to me in these sojourns.

Hearing the fragile speech,
The wailings of shrill voices
Of vampires wholly bloodless,
I have found no more than distress
Feeble and dim, a sadness
That had nor taste nor perfume nor colour.

And of this life I have grown weary,
And I have envied the living:
Therefore behold me now
Supporting a body like others,
bearing a heart like yours,
A very tangible phantom.

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