Clark Ashton Smith

Beyond the Mountains

Surely, beyond the mountains there is peace-beyond the mountains that lie so blue and still at the world's extreme. Such ancient calm, such infinite quietude is upon them, that surely, no toiling cities, no sea whose foam a ship has ever cloven, can lie beyond, but valleys of azure silence, where amaranthine flowers sleep and dream, untroubled of any wind, by the hyalescense of tranquilly flowing streams unbroken as the surface of a mirror.

The Broken Lute

Because you are silent to my lyric prayers, deaf to the melodies I have made from the sighs and murmurs of a wounded love, I have broken my golden lute, and cast it away, tarnished and unstrung, among the red leaves and faded roses of the September garden. Silence, the silver dust of lilies, the muted mournful wind of autumn, and the fitfully drifting leaves, have claimed it for their own. Seeing it there, as you pass on your queenly way amid the crumbling roses, will you not echo in your heart one sigh of the many sighs, which, as a music for your pleasure, were breathed from its chords, during the summer's half-forgotten days?

Nostalgia of the Unknown

The nostalgia of things unknown, of lands forgotten or unfound, is profound, at times. Often I long for the gleam of yellow suns upon terraces of translucent azure marble, mocking the windless waters of lakes unfathomably calm; for lost, legendary palaces of serpentine, silver and ebony, whose columns are green stalactites: for the pillars of fallen temples, standing in the vast purpureal sunset of a land of lost and marvellous romance. I sigh for the dark-green depths of cedar forests, through whose fantastically woven boughs, one sees at intervals an unknown tropic ocean, like gleams of blue diamond; for isles of palm and coral, that fret an amber morning, somewhere beyond Cathay or Taprobane; for the strange and hidden cities of the desert, with burning brazen domes and slender pinnacles of gold and copper, that pierce a heaven of heated lazuli.

Grey Sorrow

Oftimes, in the golden, November days, I meet among the dead roses of the garden the ghost of an old sorrow-a sorrow grey and dim as the mist of autumn-as a wandering mist that was once a rain of tears. There, through the long decline of afternoon, I walk among the roses with the ghost of my sorrow, whose half-forgotten, half-invisible form becomes dimmer and more indistinct, till I know its face no longer from the twilight, nor its voice from the vesper wind.

The Hair of Circe

I am afraid of thy hair: Lustrous, heavily curled, it suggests the coils of a golden snake; and half the fascination of thy painted lips, of thy still and purple-lidded eyes, is due to the fear that it may awake beneath my caresses.

The Eyes of Circe

Thine eyes are green and still as the lakes of the desert. They awake in me the thirst for strange and bitter mysteries, the desire of secrets that are deadly and sterile.

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