The Spires of Providence

Where bay and river tranquil blend,
And leafy hillsides rise,
The spires of Providence ascend
Against the ancient skies.

Here centuried domes of shining gold
Salute the morning’s glare,
While slanting gables, odd and old,
Are scatter’d here and there.

And in the narrow winding ways
That climb o’er slope and crest,
The magic of forgotten days
May still be found to rest.


DESCRIPTION: In his poem “Providence,” Lovecraft describes the timeless appeal of his beloved hometown.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Providence.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, pp. 303-5.

Eating Forbidden Things

Why shouldn’t rats eat a de la Poer as a de la Poer eats forbidden things? … The war ate my boy, damn them all … and the Yanks ate Carfax with flames and burnt Grandsire Delapore and the secret … No, no, I tell you, I am not that daemon swineherd in the twilit grotto! It was not Edward Norrys’ fat face on that flabby, fungous thing! Who says I am a de la Poer? He lived, but my boy died! … Shall a Norrys hold the lands of a de la Poer? … It’s voodoo, I tell you … that spotted snake … Curse you, Thornton, I’ll teach you to faint at what my family do! … ’Sblood, thou stinkard, I’ll learn ye how to gust … wolde ye swynke me thilke wys?


DESCRIPTION: In this passage from the short story “The Rats in the Walls” (1923), Delapore, driven to madness by what he has uncovered beneath Exham Priory, rants about the death of young Edward Norrys.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “The Rats in the Walls.” The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Penguin Books, 1999, pp. 89-108.

The Familiars

John Whateley lived about a mile from town,
Up where the hills began to huddle thick;
We never thought his wits were very quick,
Seeing the way he let his farm run down.
He used to waste his time on some queer books
He’d found around the attic of his place,
Till funny lines got creased into his face,
And folks all said they didn’t like his looks.

When he began those night-howls we declared
He’d better be locked up away from harm,
So three men from the Aylesbury town farm
Went for him—but came back alone and scared.
They’d found him talking to two crouching things
That at their step flew off on great black wings.


DESCRIPTION: In his poem “The Familiars,” Lovecraft describes the fiendish practices of John Whateley, an eccentric farmer who dabbles in black magic.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “The Familiars.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, pp. 90-1.

A Land Their Inner Memories Know

Once every year, in autumn’s wistful glow,
The birds fly out over an ocean waste,
Calling and chattering in a joyous haste
To reach some land their inner memories know.
Great terraced gardens where bright blossoms blow,
And lines of mangoes luscious to the taste,
And temple-groves with branches interlaced
Over cool paths—all these their vague dreams shew.

They search the sea for marks of their old shore—
For the tall city, white and turreted—
But only empty waters stretch ahead,
So that at last they turn away once more.
Yet sunken deep where alien polyps throng,
The old towers miss their lost, remembered song.


DESCRIPTION: In his poem “Nostalgia,” Lovecraft describes the sense of longing migratory birds feel for their faraway home, a sentiment similar to the one he felt after his childhood home was sold in 1904.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Nostalgia.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, p. 92.

At the Back of Some Vague Dream

I do not know if ever it existed—
That lost world floating dimly on Time’s stream—
And yet I see it often, violet-misted,
And shimmering at the back of some vague dream.
There were strange towers and curious lapping rivers,
Labyrinths of wonder, and low vaults of light,
And bough-crossed skies of flame, like that which quivers
Wistfully just before a winter’s night.

Great moors led off to sedgy shores unpeopled,
Where vast birds wheeled, while on a windswept hill
There was a village, ancient and white-steepled,
With evening chimes for which I listen still.
I do not know what land it is—or dare
Ask when or why I was, or will be, there.


DESCRIPTION: In his poem “Mirage,” Lovecraft describes a strange, unknown land, which he has often glimpsed in his dreams.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Mirage.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, p. 89.