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Averted Malefice

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



Where mandrakes, crying from the moonless fen,
Told how a witch, with gaze of owl or bat
Found, and each root malevolently fat
Pulled for her waiting cauldron, on my ken
Upstole, escaping to the world of men,
A vapor as of some infernal vat;
Against the stars it clomb, and caught thereat
As if their bright regard to veil again.

Despite the web, methought they saw, appalled,
The stealthier weft in which all sound was still ...
Then sprang, as if the night found breath anew,
A wind whereby the stars were disenthralled ...
Far off, I heard the cry of frustrate ill -
A witch that wailed above her curdled brew.
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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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