Retrospect and Forecast

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Retrospect and Forecast  (1912) 
by Clark Ashton Smith
1912.

Turn round, O Life, and know with eyes aghast
The Breast that fed thee-Death, disguiseless, stern:
Even now, within my mouth, from tomb and urn,
The dust is sweet. All nurture that thou hast
Was once as thou, and fed with lips made fast
On Death, whose sateless mouth it fed in turn.
Kingdoms abased, and Thrones that starward yearn,
All are but ghouls that batten on the past.

Monstrous and dread, must it forever abide.
This inescapable alternity ?
Must beauty blossom, rooted in decay,
And night devour its flaming hues alway ?
Sickening, will Life not turn eventually,
Or ravenous Death at last be satisfied ?

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.