Shapes In The Sunset

By Clark Ashton Smith

Daylong was my slumber. At the sunset,
Wakening, I beheld the clouds, a hundred
Shapes of antic gods and beasts of wonder
Gathered on the horizon.

Vulcan, with his forge behind him, towered,
Greaved with aureate fire, against the boundless
Concave west; and whirling Scylla spouted
Purple spray on Triton.

There, with gaping mouth, the Mantichora
Showed his teeth and uttered silent roarings;
Light and silky as thistle-down, the Astomians
Came from lands of marvel,

Wafted on their ether; and the headless
People followed after them, the Blemmyes,
Searing on humped shoulders through the heavens
Their enormous fardels.

There, across dismembered Titans crawling,
Python rolled his volumes; there the Gorgon,
Eyed with blinding gold, through rack amorphous
Trailed her sinuous ringlets.

There, with skyward soles, with head inverted,
Hung the Sciapod, torn from his earthy
Plot remote; and swam the cod-tailed Mermaid,
From the surges rivers.

While the sunset, deepening and rubious,
Limned the bestiary shapes in lurid
Salamandrine hues, and robed with murex
Gods from myths forgotten,

I, the watcher, cried: ‘O clouds of wonder,
Fables, carry me where an age-long sunset
Arches your lost Thule, by no sullen
Earth-born shadows blotted!’

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