Inside Those Hollow Cliffs

We found the lamp inside those hollow cliffs
Whose chiseled sign no priest in Thebes could read,
And from whose caverns frightened hieroglyphs
Warned every living creature of earth’s breed.
No more was there—just that one brazen bowl
With traces of a curious oil within;
Fretted with some obscurely patterned scroll,
And symbols hinting vaguely of strange sin.

Little the fears of forty centuries meant
To us as we bore off our slender spoil,
And when we scanned it in our darkened tent
We struck a match to test the ancient oil.
It blazed—great God! . . . But the vast shapes we saw
In that mad flash have seared our lives with awe.


DESCRIPTION: In his poem “The Lamp,” Lovecraft describes the discovery of a magical lamp and the fate of the grave robbers who unearth it.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “The Lamp.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, pp. 82-3.

Half a Hundred Scintillant Simoleons

Mme. Greene unsolicitedly and unexpectedly came across with a pledge of FIFTY (count ’em—50!) refulgent rubles—HALF A HUNDRED scintillant simoleons—for the Official Organ Fund. Ten of ’em cash down. Oh, boy!


DESCRIPTION: In a letter to his friend Rheinhart Kleiner, Lovecraft describes his reaction when he learned that Sonia H. Greene, his future wife, had donated fifty dollars to the United Amateur Press Association.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “To Rheinhart Kleiner.” 11 Aug. 1921. Selected Letters. Edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, vol. 1, Arkham House, 1965, pp. 143-4.

A Fantastic Imagination Aroused

Cautious investigators will hesitate to challenge the common belief that Robert Blake was killed by lightning, or by some profound nervous shock derived from an electrical discharge. It is true that the window he faced was unbroken, but Nature has shewn herself capable of many freakish performances. The expression on his face may easily have arisen from some obscure muscular source unrelated to anything he saw, while the entries in his diary are clearly the result of a fantastic imagination aroused by certain local superstitions and by certain old matters he had uncovered. As for the anomalous conditions at the deserted church on Federal Hill—the shrewd analyst is not slow in attributing them to some charlatanry, conscious or unconscious, with at least some of which Blake was secretly connected.


DESCRIPTION: In this passage from the short story “The Haunter of the Dark” (1935), the narrator argues that, despite the bizarre circumstances, Robert Blake was killed by natural causes.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “The Haunter of the Dark.” The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Penguin Books, 1999, pp. 336-60.

The Peculiar Fashion Known as Life

I had always been exceptionally tolerant of West’s pursuits, and we frequently discussed his theories, whose ramifications and corollaries were almost infinite. Holding with Haeckel that all life is a chemical and physical process, and that the so-called “soul” is a myth, my friend believed that artificial reanimation of the dead can depend only on the condition of the tissues; and that unless actual decomposition has set in, a corpse fully equipped with organs may with suitable measures be set going again in the peculiar fashion known as life. That the psychic or intellectual life might be impaired by the slight deterioration of sensitive brain-cells which even a short period of death would be apt to cause, West fully realized. It had at first been his hope to find a reagent which would restore vitality before the actual advent of death, and only repeated failures on animals had shewn him that the natural and artificial life-motions were incompatible. He then sought extreme freshness in his specimens, injecting his solutions into the blood immediately after the extinction of life. It was this circumstance which made the professors so carelessly skeptical, for they felt that true death had not occurred in any case. They did not stop to view the matter closely and reasoningly.


DESCRIPTION: In this passage from the short story “Herbert West—Reanimator” (1922), the narrator discusses Herbert West’s theory concerning the “artificial reanimation of the dead.”

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Herbert West—Reanimator.” The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Penguin Books, 1999, pp. 50-80.