Psalm to the Desert

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Psalm to the Desert  (1915) 
by Clark Ashton Smith
1915.

1. The years have set thee apart, O Desert;
Silence and solitude are upon thee
For the twiform sigil of the last oblivion.

2. Thy barrenness is bound about thee like iron;
It cleveth to thee as a girdle
To the girdlestead;

3. Even as the skin upon a corpse,
It tighteneth forever.

4. Thy womb is closen,
the aperture made strait with stone;

5. The sun is impotent thereon,
No less than upon the womb of the centre.

6. Thy breasts are fallen from roundure;
They are flat and rivelled;
Marah in all the milk thereof.

7. Though sucklest the viper,
Affording him a deadly life,
And givest the adder and the crotalus
To draw a replenishment of their venom;

8. Herpeton lies in the hollow
Between thy paps.

9. Though art given as a bridge to the abyss
And a wife to the nether vast;

10. Who hath hold upon thy middle
With immensitude for a closure of arms,
And the mereness of ether
For inclustable clasping:

11. Though art breathed upon with a bitter breath,
And a voice of infinite suspiration;
A wind is about thee for the sound
Of the terrible sighing of voidness.

12. Thy fate is riveted upon thee,
Thy doom is made fast with bolts of metal
That was mined from beneath the nadir;

13. A curse is gone forth against thee,
A ban is proclaimes by a voice
That is stronger than the voice of the sun:

14. It saith, Behold, thou art sterile,
The black field of the bottom of the gulf,
Which is sown with a dust of constellations,
Shall bring forth sooner than thou;

15. Thou womb shall concieve but of death,
The turning thereof shall be dissolution,
And the seed of corruption;

16. Even till the time of the rending
Of stars and atoms,
When the Worm shall lay hold
On the heart of a God for a final pasture;

17. When chaos shall be taken from its place
And scattered upon the provinces of the suns;

18. When Hell shall heave, and bespew the empyrean
With a fiery parbreak;

19. When the zenith shall be overflowed
With a sea of molten adamant,
And vastness filled with the sound
Of the cleaving of the nadir.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1961, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 50 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.