The Hack

The modern bard restrains poetic rage,
To fit his couplets to a quarter-page.
Who now regards his skill, or taste, or strength,
When verse is writ and printed for its length?
His soaring sentiments he needs must pinch,
And sing his Amaryllis by the inch.
The art is easy when the artist tries
Not for Parnassus, but alone for size.
He wastes no care on polish, wit, or grace,
Who rhymes to fill an idle bit of space.
None heeds his worth; his listless lines are bought
Because some favour’d story is too short.
No critic’s sneer his honest ire incites,
For none, forsooth, peruses what he writes!


DESCRIPTION: In his poem “The Magazine Poet,” Lovecraft mocks the commercialism of modern magazines and the poets who write for them.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “The Magazine Poet.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, pp. 225-6.

Gift of Bacchus

Hail! gift of Bacchus; red, delicious Wine,
To raise the soul, and ev’ry thought refine;
What blissful transports can thy pow’r impart,
And fill us with Anacreontic Art!
Unhappy man above the beast was plac’d;
Stript of his joys, and with mere Reason grac’d:
Sweet Wine alone his pleasures can restore;
Let him but quaff, and he’s a beast once more!


DESCRIPTION: In his poem “The Power of Wine: A Satire,” Lovecraft expresses his contempt for alcohol and those who imbibe it.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “The Power of Wine: A Satire.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, pp. 212-3.

By Tonight I Shall Be No More

I am writing this under an appreciable mental strain, since by tonight I shall be no more. Penniless, and at the end of my supply of the drug which alone makes life endurable, I can bear the torture no longer; and shall cast myself from this garret window into the squalid street below. Do not think from my slavery to morphine that I am a weakling or a degenerate. When you have read these hastily scrawled pages you may guess, though never fully realise, why it is that I must have forgetfulness or death.


DESCRIPTION: In this passage from the short story “Dagon” (1917), the narrator explains why he has decided to commit suicide.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Dagon.” The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Penguin Books, 1999, pp. 1-6.

Nothing Since Has Looked the Same

His solid flesh had never been away,
For each dawn found him in his usual place,
But every night his spirit loved to race
Through gulfs and worlds remote from common day.
He had seen Yaddith, yet retained his mind,
And come back safely from the Ghooric zone,
When one still night across curved space was thrown
That beckoning piping from the voids behind.

He waked that morning as an older man,
And nothing since has looked the same to him.
Objects around float nebulous and dim—
False, phantom trifles of some vaster plan.
His folk and friends are now an alien throng
To which he struggles vainly to belong.


DESCRIPTION: In his poem “Alienation,” Lovecraft contemplates the irresistible appeal of transcendence as well as the devastating sense of unreality that it would engender.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Alienation.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, p. 93.

An Odd Window

The house was old, with tangled wings outthrown,
Of which no one could ever half keep track,
And in a small room somewhat near the back
Was an odd window sealed with ancient stone.
There, in a dream-plagued childhood, quite alone
I used to go, where night reigned vague and black;
Parting the cobwebs with a curious lack
Of fear, and with a wonder each time grown.

One later day I brought the masons there
To find what view my dim forbears had shunned,
But as they pierced the stone, a rush of air
Burst from the alien voids that yawned beyond.
They fled—but I peered through and found unrolled
All the wild worlds of which my dreams had told.


DESCRIPTION: In his poem “The Window,” Lovecraft describes a seemingly ordinary window, long ago “sealed with ancient stone,” through which viewers may look upon alien worlds.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “The Window.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, pp. 86-7.