Monday, March 14, 2022

Secret Worship

Here's another poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) that was unpublished in his lifetime, and is not available on The Eldritch Dark, so here's the complete text:

Veiled is the altar, and the liturgy
is undivulged, and undivulged the vows.
The fire no vestal builds or keeps
consumes its smoke in burning,
flames not outward;
low-fuming are the censers;
discreet, the sacrifice 
contains itself, nor bleeds for eyes profane;
and the soft-beaten psaltries 
are stilly toned as is the twilight bat.

Goddess, thou goest cowled,
though not as does the chaste and sober nun.
Dark as the Cloven Hill thy hidden shrine,
thy nakedness
revealed alone to inward-shining lamps
and to thy worshipper.

This poem has a highly-charged erotic subtext, so perfectly developed that I'm surprised CAS didn't choose to include this verse in either of the Arkham House collections of his poetry that were issued in his lifetime.  It's a wonderful example of how CAS could use the trappings of the weird and the supernatural to express sentiments that had nothing to do with ghosts and goblins.

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