Clark Ashton Smith

Epitaph For The Earth

Somewhere in Space the disunited dust
That formed a visible comparted world,
Floats in unnoticed formlessness, nor mars
With stain of fleck the ethereal claritude
Of vacancy; nor with its monads driven,
Separate, irrelevant, athwart the suns,
Impedes the tangled multidudinous passage
Of rays that cross each other like the thrust
Of unrelenting swords.
The tombs that tooth
With granite mouths successive glut of Life
At last are not distinguished from the lips
Of earlier-crumbled earth. And man himself—
An evanescent peak of foam that pointed
One wave, subsided now, of matter's tide
Leaves but bequest of stories that he took
From forms long antecedent, that were not
As he; that shall not thus combine again
In all the future sequences of Change.

With hope of some far-off, supernal goal,
Changeless, and independent of the years
He strove on low and shifting ways, and sent
Commissioned dreams ethereal-wing'd before,
On summits that achievement's laggard feet
Scarcely approached, till on one lesser peak
He knew his own futility at last—
Himself an immaterial trick of Chance.

Submitted: Friday, April 04, 2014
Edited: Friday, April 04, 2014

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

Foot Note

The words 'the future sequences of' are underlined in the manuscript - this is most likely a notation by Clark to recheck or mark it down for future use elsewhere as a provocative concept - the latter in my view is the likelier possibility as it does not otherwise seem to serve a poetic function in the poem for emphasis or to evoke a particular mood. It is, nevertheless, possible that he intended it as an integral part of the poem not trusting the reader to grasp the power of inserting the word 'sequences' in front of 'change'. (Dr W C Farmer)

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