Clark Ashton Smith

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

When the low sky weighs oppressive like a coffin-cover
Upon the groaning spirit, prey to long ennuis;
When all the horizons, and the charnel clouds that hover
Pour out a black day sadder than the darknesses;

When the earth is turned into a sodden prison-house
Where Hope, with futile fearful wing, time after time,
Beats on the dripping wall as might a flittermouse,
Or soars to meet the ceiling's rottenness and grime;

When like the bars of some great dungeon dolorous
Close down implacably the enormous grilles of rain;
When a silent race of sinister spiders infamous
Have spun their webs within the chambers of our brain;—

Then the bells leap in sudden rage from every steeple
And hurl to heaven a clamor frightful as the howling
Of some importunate, unfed demonian people
Who whine for blood and souls, above the city prowling;

—And the long hearses, with no music and no drums,
Defile with lentor through my mournful soul; Despair
Weeps, even as Hope, and dire, despotic Anguish comes
To hang her stifling sable draperies everywhere.

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