With the South in Battle He Engag’d

The Northern bigot, with false zeal inflam’d,
The virtues of the Afric race proclaim’d;
Declar’d the blacks his brothers and his peers,
And at their slav’ry shed fraternal tears;
Distorted for his cause the Holy Word,
And deem’d himself commanded by the Lord
To draw his sword, whate’er the cost might be,
And set the sons of Aethiopia free.
First with the South in battle he engag’d;
And four hard years an impious warfare wag’d,
Then, deaf to Nature, and to God’s decree,
He gave the blacks their fatal liberty.
The halls where Southern justice once had reign’d
He now with horrid negro rites profan’d.


DESCRIPTION: In his poem “De Triumpho Naturae,” Lovecraft mocks abolitionists and the egalitarian beliefs that motivated them.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “De Triumpho Naturae.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, pp. 33-4.

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That Pandaemoniac Sight

And as he snarled the phrase under his breath he gestured anew; bringing to the sky a flash more blinding than either which had come before. For full three seconds I could glimpse that pandaemoniac sight, and in those seconds I saw a vista which will ever afterward torment me in dreams. I saw the heavens verminous with strange flying things, and beneath them a hellish black city of giant stone terraces with impious pyramids flung savagely to the moon, and devil-lights burning from unnumbered windows. And swarming loathsomely on aërial galleries I saw the yellow, squint-eyed people of that city, robed horribly in orange and red, and dancing insanely to the pounding of fevered kettle-drums, and the clatter of obscene crotale, and the maniacal moaning of muted horns whose ceaseless dirges rose and fell undulantly like the waves of an unhallowed ocean of bitumen.


DESCRIPTION: In a passage from the short story “He” (1925), Lovecraft describes, in racist terms, his apocalyptic vision of the future.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “He.” The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Penguin Books, 1999, pp. 119-29.

The Decline of the West

Orientals must be kept in their native East till the fall of the white race. Sooner or later a great Japanese war will take place … The more numerous Chinese are a menace of the still more distant future. They will probably be the exterminators of Caucasian civilisation, for their numbers are amazing.


DESCRIPTION: In a letter to the Gallomo, Lovecraft describes his racist theory that the Chinese and Japanese will someday become the “exterminators of Caucasian civilisation.”

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “To Alfred Galpin and Maurice W. Moe.” 30 Sept. 1919. Selected Letters. Edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, vol. 1, Arkham House, 1965, pp. 89-90.

The Dweller

It had been old when Babylon was new;
None knows how long it slept beneath that mound,
Where in the end our questing shovels found
Its granite blocks and brought it back to view.
There were vast pavements and foundation-walls,
And crumbling slabs and statues, carved to shew
Fantastic beings of some long ago
Past anything the world of man recalls.

And then we saw those stone steps leading down
Through a choked gate of graven dolomite
To some black haven of eternal night
Where elder signs and primal secrets frown.
We cleared a path—but raced in mad retreat
When from below we heard those clumping feet.


DESCRIPTION: In his poem “The Dweller,” Lovecraft describes the excavation of an ancient city, in which a monstrous entity, long forgotten, still dwells.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “The Dweller.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, pp. 92-3.

The City I Had Known Before

It was the city I had known before;
The ancient, leprous town where mongrel throngs
Chant to strange gods, and beat unhallowed gongs
In crypts beneath foul alleys near the shore.
The rotting, fish-eyed houses leered at me
From where they leaned, drunk and half-animate,
As edging through the filth I passed the gate
To the black courtyard where the man would be.

The dark walls closed me in, and loud I cursed
That ever I had come to such a den,
When suddenly a score of windows burst
Into wild light, and swarmed with dancing men:
Mad, soundless revels of the dragging dead—
And not a corpse had either hands or head!


DESCRIPTION: In his poem “The Courtyard,” Lovecraft describes a slum inhabited by the living dead.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “The Courtyard.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, p. 84.

Man’s Dream-Transient Sphere

The way led down a dark, half-wooded heath
Where moss-grey boulders humped above the mould,
And curious drops, disquieting and cold,
Sprayed up from unseen streams in gulfs beneath.
There was no wind, nor any trace of sound
In puzzling shrub, or alien-featured tree,
Nor any view before—till suddenly,
Straight in my path, I saw a monstrous mound.

Half to the sky those steep sides loomed upspread,
Rank-grassed, and cluttered by a crumbling flight
Of lava stairs that scaled the fear-topped height
In steps too vast for any human tread.
I shrieked—and knew what primal star and year
Had sucked me back from man’s dream-transient sphere!


DESCRIPTION: In his poem “Recapture,” Lovecraft describes a dreamlike journey through an alien forest to a monstrous pyramid.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Recapture.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, p. 94.

The Romantic, Semi-Gothic Tradition

The romantic, semi-Gothic, quasi-moral tradition here represented was carried far down the nineteenth century by such authors as Joseph Sheridan LeFanu, Thomas Preskett Prest with his famous Varney, the Vampyre (1847), Wilkie Collins, the late Sir H. Rider Haggard (whose She is really remarkably good), Sir A. Conan Doyle, H. G. Wells, and Robert Louis Stevenson—the latter of whom, despite an atrocious tendency toward jaunty mannerisms, created permanent classics in “Markheim”, “The Body-Snatcher”, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Indeed, we may say that this school still survives; for to it clearly belong such of our contemporary horror-tales as specialise in events rather than atmospheric details, address the intellect rather than the impressionistic imagination, cultivate a luminous glamour rather than a malign tensity or psychological verisimilitude, and take a definite stand in sympathy with mankind and its welfare. It has its undeniable strength, and because of its “human element” commands a wider audience than does the sheer artistic nightmare. If not quite so potent as the latter, it is because a diluted product can never achieve the intensity of a concentrated essence.


DESCRIPTION: In his essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” Lovecraft praises Robert Louis Stevenson’s contributions to weird fiction while simultaneously denigrating them for their “jaunty” style.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. The Annotated Supernatural Horror in Literature. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2000.