Clark Ashton Smith (January 13, 1893 – August 14, 1961) was a self-educated American poet, sculptor, painter and author of fantasy, horror and science fiction short stories. He achieved early local recognition, largely through the enthusiasm of George Sterling, for traditional verse in the vein of Swinburne. As a poet, Smith is grouped with the West Coast Romantics alongside Ambrose Bierce, Joaquin Miller, Sterling, Nora May French, and remembered as "The Last of the Great Romantics" and "The Bard of Auburn".
Smith was one of "the big three of Weird Tales, along with Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft", where some readers objected to his morbidness and violation of pulp traditions. It has been said of him that "nobody since Poe has so loved a well-rotted corpse." He was a member of the Lovecraft circle, and Smith's literary friendship with H. P. Lovecraft lasted from 1922 until Lovecraft's death in 1937. His work is marked chiefly by an extraordinarily wide and ornate vocabulary, a cosmic perspective and a vein of sardonic and sometimes ribald humor.
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-colored sun
Of secret worlds incredible, and take
Their trailing skies for vestment when I soar,
In Averoigne the enchantress weaves
Weird spells that call a changeling sun,
Or hale the moon of Hecate
Down to the ivy-hooded towers.
Thy light is an eminence unto thee
And thou art upheld by the pillars of thy strength.
Thy power is a foundation for the worlds:
They are builded thereon as upon a lofty rock
No more of gold and marble, nor of snow
And sunlight and vemilion, would I make
My vision and my symbols, nor would take
The auroral flame of some prismatic floe.