The Harlot Of The World


Clark Ashton Smith

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.

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