The Crystals

Clark Ashton Smith

Raptly as one who would divine the perilous eyes of Sleep, and the dreams and mysteries which lurk therein, I sought to fathom the gulf-enclosing orb of the crystal: Void for a time, and hollow with light it was, and transpicuous like the orient sky that is made clear for the colours of the dawn. But soon the light was centered to a star, and the crystal itself, as if pregnant with the Infinite, became a tenebrous and profound abysm, thro which a teeming myriad of shadows, vague as incipient dreams, or luminous with a glimpse of vision not prefigurable, fled in an ever-changing phantasmagoric succession about the star: From out those vortical and swirling glooms, where only the central star was constant, I saw the pallor of innominable faces emerge-faces that broke like bubbles; and forms that were strange as conceptions of an alien sun, with the eidolons of things which were imageless before, swam for a little in that phantasmic wave. But all the multifold mysteries which were manifest therein, I knew for the hidden thoughts and occluse, reluctant dreams of mine under-soul — thoughts and dreams now shadow-shown in the gulf-revealing orb of the hollow crystal...

Thus, in the crystal of Time and Space, whose gulfs contain all that we call the Infinite, may God behold the manifestation of all the multiform mysteries, and all the secret thoughts and dreams which abide in the centermost sanctuary of His Being. And naught may appear to Him but these-His thoughts and dreams forever shadow-shown in the immeasurable orb of the hollow crystal of Time and Space.

July 2. 1914

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Printed on: October 29, 2020