The Peril That Lurks Among Ruins (Text taken from original manuscript)

Clark Ashton Smith

"Go not too often among ruins", said the Demon, in one of his infrequent hours of admonitory confidence. "For there is a strangeness in the great and mltitudinous shadows which these memorials of the immensity of the Past, broken tho they be, have thrown for so many centuries upon the selfsame spot as in the dawn of their erection. Bethink thee, such shadows have gathered an unwonted strength and intensity from their ancient, imperturbed brooding; and they are not as the shadows of natural objects, for human time has accumulated within them like unswept dust, and memories of the dead have come to cluster there like bats in a deep cavern. They have all the power and all the sopor of despair; they are deep as death and hollow as hell, the Earth has grown abysmal beneath them, and the circumcluded air is full of headlong and vertiginous gulfs: their dim recesses are alurk with the impalpable vampires of eclipsed magnificence and the ghostly incubi of immemorial might."

"He is not wise who walks frequently within these hazardous shadows, and this is the peril, that, treading heedlessly, thou slip on some intangible precipice of the Past, and go falling irrecoverably and forevermore, among phantasmagoric eidola, and the ghostly and meaningless dead that thou be drawn to join the swirl of phantoms [sic], which sere and purposeless as blown autumnal leaves, go fleeing thro a windy and eternal night of past things; that, lost and unseen, thou whirl with spectral memories and the gusty sand, thro shattered arches and between domeless columns, that thou abide with shadows, apart from the future and all its change, in the vast, irremeable limbo of forespent and pofitless time."

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Printed on: October 29, 2020