The Mithridate

Clark Ashton Smith

The world has a thousand poisons, thin or potent, honey-like or nauseous, quick or languid, corrosive and deadly, or captious and deceptive and narcotic. There are poisons bright as an amber wine, or rich as blood or rubies, or clear and hueless and innocent- seeming as the water of untroubled lakes, or dark and turbid as the ooze of the nether sea. There are poisons that slay the soul, that slay the heart or the mind or the body, and others that never slay, but only torture and benumb.

Against all these, your love is the sovereign mithridate; and indeed, I have never found any other.

But when you love me not, or love me ill, I am powerless against them; and even love itself becomes an immedicable poison- a poison that is doubly lethal because it kills so slowly, or does not kill at all.

From "Poems in Prose" Clark Ashton Smith, 1964: Arkham House Publishers.

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