Once again, we have a poem unpublished in the lifetime of Clark Ashton Smith (CAS). Likewise this one is not available on The Eldritch Dark, so here's the full text:
About me closed the darkness of Despair
Whose dusky mists were chill upon my face.
Darkled and grew that heavy night apace;
Breathless and silent hung the ominous air
With dread and terror pregnant everywhere
And on the darkness I could dimly trace
Amorphous shapes in endless constant race
They passed. Beneath their fixed and pitiless stare
Who seemed accusing ghosts of futile days
My spirit flinched and desperate I turned
To where Death's gulfs made offer of their peace.
But did not try those deeps for staying fears.
The night wore on till lo, afar there burned
Hope's star that heralded the dawn's release.
This is quite a formidable description of an experience of despair, unforgiving until the very last lines where the dawning of a new day brings relief. Especially dramatic is the narrator's encounter with the allure and escape of death, an offering he refuses out of an even greater fear.
This is certainly the darkest poem that I have yet read in my journey through the poetic corpus of CAS, and it will be interesting to see how he develops this theme further in the weird and fantastic verses for which he is best known, most of which came later in his career.
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