The Mirror in the Hall of Ebony

Clark Ashton Smith

From the nethermost profound of slumber, from a gulf beyond the sun and stars that illume the Lethean shoals and the vague lands of somnolent visions, I floated on a black unrippling tide to the dark threshold of a dream. And in this dream I stood at the end of a long hall that was ceiled and floored and walled with black ebony, and was lit with a light that fell not from the sun or moon nor from any lamp. The hall was without doors or windows, and at the further extreme an oval mirror was framed in the wall. And standing there, I remembered nothing of all that had been; and the other dreams of sleep, and the dream of birth and of everything thereafter, were alike forgotten. And forgotten too was the name I had found among men, and the other names whereby the daughters of dream had known me; and memory was no older than my coming to that hall. But I wondered not, nor was I troubled thereby, and naught was strange to me: for the tide that had borne me to this threshold was the tide of Lethe.

Anon, though I knew not why, my feet were drawn adown the hall, and I approached the oval mirror. And in the mirror I beheld the haggard face that was mine, and the red mark on the cheek where one I loved had struck me in her anger, and the mark on the throat where her lips had kissed me in amorous devotion. And, seeing this, I remembered all that had been; and the other dreams of sleep, and the dream of birth and of everything thereafter, alike returned to me. And thus I recalled the name I had assumed beneath the terrene sun, and the names I had borne beneath the suns of sleep and of reverie. And I marvelled much, and was enormously troubled, and all things were most strange to me, and all things were as of yore.

Printed from: www.eldritchdark.com/writings/prose-poetry-plays/29
Printed on: November 20, 2017