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A Dead City

Clark Ashton Smith 1893 (Long Valley Caldera) – 1961 (Pacific Grove)



The twilight reigns above the fallen noon
Within an ancient land, whose after-time
Lies like a shadow o'er its ruined prime.
Like rising mist the night increases soon
Round shattered palaces, ere yet the moon
On mute, unsentried walls and turrets climb,
And touch with whiteness of sepulchral rime
The desert where a city's bones are strewn.

She comes at last; unburied, thick, they show
In all the hoary nakedness of stone.
From out a shadow like the lips of Death
Issues a wind, that through the stillness blown,
Cries like a prophet's ghost with wailing breath
The weirds of finished and forgotten woe.
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Submitted on August 03, 2020

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Clark Ashton Smith

Clark Ashton Smith was a self-educated American poet, sculptor, painter and author of fantasy, horror and science fiction short stories. He achieved early local recognition, largely through the enthusiasm of George Sterling, for traditional verse in the vein of Swinburne. As a poet, Smith is grouped with the West Coast Romantics alongside Ambrose Bierce, Joaquin Miller, Sterling, Nora May French, and remembered as "The Last of the Great Romantics" and "The Bard of Auburn". Smith was one of "the big three of Weird Tales, along with Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft", where some readers objected to his morbidness and violation of pulp traditions. It has been said of him that "nobody since Poe has so loved a well-rotted corpse." He was a member of the Lovecraft circle, and Smith's literary friendship with H. P. Lovecraft lasted from 1922 until Lovecraft's death in 1937. His work is marked chiefly by an extraordinarily wide and ornate vocabulary, a cosmic perspective and a vein of sardonic and sometimes ribald humor. more…

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