Thursday, December 14, 2023


This is another poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) that was never published during his lifetime, so here's the complete text:

In smoke, in tapered darkness, and in mist,
Above the fateful suspect Flame 
My foaming loves distill.  I watch, as might
Some other and some darker Alchemist
Observe the starry bubbles dim or splendid
With the immense alembic of the night.

You have not come...and time stands over me,
A torturer, inquisitorial, and I seem
Supine in some colossal hour-glass, where the sands,
Burning and rasping, fall in my bared heart

The last line is apparently obscured in the original manuscript now in the collections of the John Hay Library at Brown University.

Compared to the poem "Geometries", which I read yesterday, the metaphor at the heart of "Alchemy" is much more effective, particularly in the second stanza, where the speaker feels himself to be "Supine in some colossal hour-glass".  The speaker may be something of a romantic alchemist, but his powers fail to deliver the object of his affections to him.

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