Story in The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers. Not a true 'story' in any conventional narrative sense, it consists of an opening poem and eight short poetic-prose subsections. It has a dream-like quality and features personifications such as Love and Truth.
Each brief section is mostly composed of a small number of phrases, which repeat themselves in varying iterations and contexts to form different meanings – insofar as any 'meaning' at all can be discerned. The nature of the Prophets' (or Prophet's, as it is sometimes referred to) Paradise itself is unexplained.
The Prophets' Paradise was also included in the 2007 King In Yellow Anthology.
"If but the Vine and Love Abjuring Band
Are in the Prophets' Paradise to stand,
Alack, I doubt the Prophets' Paradise
Were empty as the hollow of one's hand."
The unnamed narrator awaits a woman in his studio, ignoring advice to "seek her throughout the world".
The narrator has found the Phantom of the Past, possibly the woman he awaited, but she "would go no further", asking him instead to turn back.
A woman cries "I have killed him I loved!" and pours a jar of blood over white flowers.
The narrator "came to the bridge which few may pass" and is invited to pass, but dallies a while before doing so, saying, "There is time".
First met at the bridge, the throng crowds the streets laughing. The narrator stands with Pierrot and his purse is stolen. Truth steps forth with a mirror capable of detecting an honest thief, but Pierrot convinces the narrator that the mirror rather than a purse was what was stolen and he calls for the arrest of Truth.
The narrator talks to the Jester of a woman who was stabbed, whose lover sought her widely. This may or may not be the woman the narrator is seeking.
A clown with a powdered face – described as a white mask – gazes into a mirror in a narcissistic fashion, asking who could compare with his pale complexion. The narrator asks Death, who is standing next to him. Death replies that he is "paler still", and the clown sighs, saying that Death is "very beautiful".
The Love Test
Love tells the narrator to declare his love, but the woman he loves wishes him to wait.