Calenture

Clark Ashton Smith

Rathe summer had sered the grass in which he lay
Under the little shade
The live-oak made,
While things remembered and foregone,
Loves from the drouth of other summers drawn,
Like rootless windlestrae
Went past him on
The hot and lucid flowing of the day.
The wine-flask at his side
Shown empty: he had spilled
The last drops for oblation on the dried
Pale rootlets dead with May
Of the small-seeded oats no man had tilled.
He thought: their death is clean,
This tawny change that overtakes the green
And makes the unnumbered fragile skeletons
Yet yields no mortal fetor to the suns.
Their death is clean...but ours
Is not the death of grasses and of flowers...

He thought: they die and live and die again
With little travail, none of little pain:
But love, though brief as these,
With endless agonies
Of bitter and relucting breath,
Accepts, refuses, and receives its death...
And here it was,
On grass that bore the seed of the same grass
On which I now recline,
That my mouth drank the wine
Of dregless love and beauty from the cup
Of pagan flesh in fulness offered up.
To him that keeps, forlorn,
From morn to vacant morn
The vigil of the seasons, shall there come
Ever again the timeless, tall delirium?

In the afternoon with burning silence filled,
Cicada-like, a fever sang and shrilled,
Hurrying anew his passion-wearied blood
Through veins oppressed by heat and hebetude.
Indifferently he watched the westering day
Like spreading fire consume
The thin last shrunken shade in which he lay.
He closed his dazzled eyes; in the red gloom
Behind the sun-confronting lids he saw
A faceless and colossal woman loom:
One moment in his eyes,
Ere the dislimning vision could withdraw,
The breasts were large and dim as daylight moons,
The hips, on scarlet skies,
Glimmered with arch of evening semilunes,
The shadowy shell curved between vast thighs.

Printed from: www.eldritchdark.com/writings/poetry/73
Printed on: November 24, 2017