Nobody Home in the Shantih

Henry Fielding wrote Tom Jones.
And cursed be he that moves my bones.
Good night, good night, the stars are bright
I saw the Leonard-Tendler fight
Farewell, farewell, O go to hell.
Nobody home
In the shantih.

DESCRIPTION: In his poem “Waste Paper,” Lovecraft parodies T. S. Eliot’s famous poem, The Waste Land.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Waste Paper.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, pp. 257-61.


Hail! Little Sea

Hail! little sea, in whose bright waters shine
The myriad graces of the boundless brine;
Whose shallow calms and rippling surges bear
Th’ eternal sway of Neptune’s curule chair:
Thy kindly pow’r a grateful race confess,
And count thy virtues next to godliness;
Blest be thy waves, by no rude breezes blown,
To Britons sacred, and to Jews unknown!
How oft have I, in childhood’s blissful day,
Drawn o’er thy face my tiny fleets at play!
See bold Ulysses plough the Grecian main,
And Nelson at Trafalgar die again;
See Pompey’s triremes break the corsair’s pride,
And Northern Vikings brave the Arctic tide.
Fancy can trace within thy meagre bound
The storied deep, that girds our planet round!
What noble mem’ries thy white banks awake
Of Roman might that made creation quake!
Thy marble ancestors, by Tiber’s stream
In tribute to Imperial bounty gleam:
Where’er a Caesar’s wisdom rul’d the land,
In east or west, the stately thermae stand!
Say, lucid lake, what sylphs and fairies dwell
Beneath the crystal magic of thy spell?
Art as a fount in blest Arcadian mead
Where naiad throngs the sylvan syrinx heed,
Or dost thou bow to Triton’s wider rule,
And hold an ocean in thy placid pool?
Do little nereids, suited to thy size,
(Too small to glimpse with our crude mortal eyes)
Sport thro’ thy waves, and ev’ry crest adorn,
Upon the backs of tiny dolphins borne?
Imagination fain would find in thee
The charm, and lure, and glory of the sea!
How swells thy breast when on thy porcelain bed
Descending cloudbursts their mad fury shed!
How whirls thy tide when thro’ thy punctur’d floor
The angry waters in a maelstrom pour!
Then dost thou lie—a dry, deserted thing
For Gods to mourn, and third-rate bards to sing!

DESCRIPTION: In his poem “Ad Balneum,” Lovecraft satirizes Modernist poets, who often composed verses about everyday objects, by rhapsodizing about a humble bathtub.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Ad Balneum.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, pp. 230-1.

Elder Splendours and Divine Desires

The winter sunset, flaming beyond spires
And chimneys half-detached from this dull sphere,
Opens great gates to some forgotten year
Of elder splendours and divine desires.
Expectant wonders burn in those rich fires,
Adventure-fraught, and not untinged with fear;
A row of sphinxes where the way leads clear
Toward walls and turrets quivering to far lyres.

It is the land where beauty’s meaning flowers;
Where every unplaced memory has a source;
Where the great river Time begins its course
Down the vast void in starlit streams of hours.
Dreams bring us close—but ancient lore repeats
That human tread has never soiled these streets.

DESCRIPTION: In his poem “Hesperia,” Lovecraft describes a fanciful dreamland, which inspires both fear and wonder in those who see it.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Hesperia.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, p. 85.

Trying to Improve

I have tried to improve and subtilise my tales with the passing of years, but have not made the progress I wish. Some of my efforts have been cited in the O’Brien and O. Henry annuals, and a few have enjoyed reprinting in anthologies; but all proposals for a published collection have come to nothing. It is possible that one or two short tales may be issued as separate brochures before long. I never write when I cannot be spontaneous—expressing a mood already existing and demanding crystallisation. Some of my tales involve actual dreams I have experienced. My speed and manner of writing vary widely in different cases, but I always work best at night. Of my products, my favourites are “The Colour out of Space” and “The Music of Erich Zann”, in the order named. I doubt if I could ever succeed well in the ordinary kind of science fiction.

DESCRIPTION: In his essay “Some Notes on a Nonentity,” Lovecraft describes his dissatisfaction with his own writing and his rate of improvement.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Some Notes on a Nonentity.” Collected Essays. Edited by S. T. Joshi, vol. 5, Hippocampus Press, 2006, pp. 207-11.