The Isle of Saturn

Clark Ashton Smith

In one of these (islands) the barbarians
feign that Saturn is held prisoner by Zeus.
-Plutarch

Say, what seer, what poet has beheld Saturnia?
Clio or Euterpe, tell, if this you know:
Zones of guardian storm unslackening, sempiternal
Doldrums of the flat untraversable foam
Drive the encroaching keels to leeward,

So no sailor glimpses it, no chart includes.
Never yet has man profaned it, never printed
Xanthic sands whereover duskier flames the blue
For tall marble cliffs whereon the hippogriffin
Rears his head and gazes seaward,

Unalarmed, and all replete with grainy grasses.
Slant with wind, and drenched by spindrift, walls of cypress
Closely ward untended crofts where mellowed apples
Fall not from the bough to break the cyclic silence
Of a mighty myth that slumbers.

There, in calamus and the lush hemlock matted,
By the muffled windings of unmumurous streams,
Black gigantic swans that winter in strange planets,
Age to age returning, make their nests, and rear
Shadowy broods that no one numbers.

There the dragon-mother, couched amid the boulders,
High on rugged fells that rim the smoothed main,
Hatches out her blotched and horny young, with folded
Wings that open soon in fluttered, brief essays—
Tumbling on the downs and tors.

Darkly, in the gaunt and gleamless mountain-sides,
Drowse the metals for the mail of gods rewakened;
And the trees of savage forests hold on high
Still-unshapen hafts of Titan battle-maces
To be wielded in vast wars.

Stretched between two peaks, within a lea-wide valley,
Saturn, slumbering, heals his wounds through halcyon cycles:
Rains and dews like balm anoint him; wild grapes clamber
Over him with ripening clusters; and black ivy
Plaits his golden beard uncombed.

Others there are sleeping. . . . Will they haply waken—
Monstrous phantoms, striding down from fell and highland,
Crawling like to rivered lava through the dale-beds?—
Gods who rose and reigned and died before the Titans,
Lying in topless tombs undomed.

Printed from: www.eldritchdark.com/writings/poetry/574
Printed on: November 19, 2017