My Gaze Was Ever Upward

. . . In the summer of 1903 my mother presented me with a 2½ astronomical telescope, and thenceforward my gaze was ever upward at night. The late Prof. Upton of Brown, a friend of the family, gave me the freedom of the college observatory, (Ladd Observatory) & I came & went there at will on my bicycle. Ladd Observatory tops a considerable eminence about a mile from the house. I used to walk up Doyle Avenue hill with my wheel, but when returning would have a glorious coast down it. So constant were my observations, that my neck became affected by the strain of peering at a difficult angle. It gave me much pain, & resulted in a permanent curvature perceptible today to a close observer.


DESCRIPTION: In a letter to his friend Rheinhart Kleiner, Lovecraft describes his nearly lifelong fascination with astronomy, a love he traced back to a gift from his mother.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “To Rheinhart Kleiner.” 16 Nov. 1916. Selected Letters. Edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, vol. 1, Arkham House, 1965, pp. 29-42.

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Skies That Now Are Dark Were Beaming

O’er the midnight moorlands crying,
Thro’ the cypress forests sighing,
In the night-wind madly flying,
Hellish forms with streaming hair;
In the barren branches creaking,
By the stagnant swamp-pools speaking,
Past the shore-cliffs ever shrieking;
Damn’d daemons of despair.

Once, I think I half remember,
Ere the grey skies of November
Quench’d my youth’s aspiring ember,
Liv’d there such a thing as bliss;
Skies that now are dark were beaming,
Gold and azure, splendid seeming
Till I learn’d it all was dreaming—
Deadly drowsiness of Dis.

But the stream of Time, swift flowing,
Brings the torment of half-knowing—
Dimly rushing, blindly going
Past the never-trodden lea;
And the voyager, repining,
Sees the grisly death-fires shining,
Hears the wicked petrel’s whining
As he helpless drifts to sea.


DESCRIPTION: In his poem “Despair,” which was written shortly after his mother’s nervous breakdown, Lovecraft uses weird imagery to symbolize his feelings of hopelessness.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Despair.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, pp. 61-2.

Mere Play & Dancing About

You will notice that I have made no reference to childish friends & playmates—I had none! The children I knew disliked me, & I disliked them. I was used to adult company & conversation, & despite the fact that I felt shamefully dull beside my elders, I had nothing in common with the infant train. Their romping & shouting puzzled me. I hated mere play & dancing about—in my relaxations I always desired plot. My mother once tried to place me in a children’s dancing class, but I abhorred the thought. My reply to her suggestion sheds a light on the nature of my bookish browsings in about the year ’98. I said: “Nemo fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit!” Which is from Cicero’s oration against Catiline.


DESCRIPTION: In a letter to his friend Rheinhart Kleiner, Lovecraft claims that, when he was a child, he was ostracized by other children because he “hated mere play & dancing about.”

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “To Rheinhart Kleiner.” 16 Nov. 1916. Selected Letters. Edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, vol. 1, Arkham House, 1965, pp. 29-42.

Awake Me Not

Dear Mother:—
If, as you start toward Lillie’s festive spread,
You find me snoring loudly in my bed,
Awake me not, for I would fain repose,
And thro’ the day in quiet slumbers doze.
But lest I starve, for lack of food to eat,
Leave here a dish of Quaker Puffed Wheat,
Or breakfast biscuit, which, it matters not,
To break my fast when out of bed I’ve got.
And if to supper you perchance should stay,
Thus to complete a glorious festive day,
Announce the fact to me by Telephone,
That whilst you eat, I may prepare my own.


DESCRIPTION: In his poem “To His Mother on Thanksgiving,” Lovecraft requests that his mother refrain from waking him before she leaves for Thanksgiving dinner.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “To His Mother on Thanksgiving.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, p. 425.