Clark Ashton Smith
The Poet Talks With The Biographers
Written originally in French
O ghouls of fetid and funereal midnights,
Say, what do you uncover in your sad labors?
—We have disinterred the Empusa of thy fears
And the frightful Gorgon with her livid eyeballs
In our mournful labors.
O diggers all so diligent, O sapient ghouls,
What have you found in your prodigious toils?
—We have exhumed with all their antique evils
Thy loves, with features gutted by the worms,
In our enormous toils.
Grimed openers of pyramid and ossuary,
What revealed ye yesterday at crimson evening?
—We have dug up the black and ashen soil
To anatomize the shroudless nymph
Who was laid to sleep at evening.
Ghouls, what would ye do, tonight, for your pleasure,
Within these low, lugubrious and gaping tombs?
—We come to disenswathe the living dead—
The never-gelded fauns of thine old vices—
Within these gaping tombs.
Wherefore in such efforts, O Chaldean ghouls,
Whiten ye the earth with the salt of your sweat?
—Therein we find ineffable pleasures always:
Odors of the ripe dead, and ancient spices,
Embalsam our sweat.
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(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
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