The Harlot of the World

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The Harlot of the World  (1915) 
by Clark Ashton Smith
1915.

O Life, thou harlot who beguilest all!
Beautiful in thy house, the golden world.
Abidest thou, where Powers pinion-furled
And flying Splendors follow to thy call.

Innumerous like the stars or like the dust,
Nations and monarchs were thy thralls of yore:
Unto the grave's old womb forevermore
Hast thou betrayed the passion and the lust.

Fair as the moon of summer is thy face,
And mystical with cloudiness of hair. . . .
Only an eye, subornless by delight,

Shall find, within thy phosphorescent gaze,
Those caverns of corruption and despair
Where the Worm toileth in the charnel night.

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.