My Fancies They Do Roam

When the evening shadows come
Then my fancies they do roam
Round the dear old rustic cottage by the lane,
Where in days that are no more
Liv’d the maid I did adore,
Liv’d my own beloved sweetheart, darling Jane!

O my dearest, sweetest pride,
Thou couldst never be my bride,
For the angels snatch’d you up one summer day;
Yet my heart is ever true,
And I love you yes I do,
And I’ll mourn for you until I pine away!
I—pine—a—away (by 1st Tenor).

DESCRIPTION: In his poem “My Lost Love,” Lovecraft parodies the romantic poetry of his fellow amateur James Laurence Crowley.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “My Lost Love.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, pp. 226-7.


Fair (?) Hecatissa

Young Strephon for his Chloë sigh’d
In accents warm but vain;
Th’ Hibernian nymph his suit deny’d,
Nor melted at his pain.

But one day from an Eastern scene
Fair (?) Hecatissa came;
She ey’d the swain with fav’ring mien,
And felt the Paphian flame.

No answ’ring flame the youth display’d;
He scorn’d her doubtful charms,
And still implor’d th’ Hibernian maid
To seek his outstretch’d arms.

Thus Strephon, both unlov’d and lov’d,
Both pleading and refusing,
Plann’d, that to passion might be mov’d
The maiden of his choosing.

With seeming scorn he ceas’d his sighs,
And careless turn’d away;
Then courted with dissembling eyes
The maid from Boston Bay.

The willing fair (?) his wooing heard;
With bliss his suit receiv’d;
Bright Chloë, list’ning, notes each word,
With jealous longing griev’d.

DESCRIPTION: In his poem “A Pastoral Tragedy of Appleton, Wisconsin,” Lovecraft affectionately mocks the romantic entanglements of his friend Alfred Galpin.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “A Pastoral Tragedy of Appleton, Wisconsin.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, pp. 131-2.

Ad Criticos

What vig’rous protests now assail my eyes?
See Jackson’s satellites in anger rise!
His ardent readers, steep’d in tales of love,
Sincere devotion to their leader prove;
In brave defence of sickly gallantry,
They damn the critic, and beleaguer me.
Ingenious Russell, I forgive the slur,
Since in such clever lines your sneers occur.
Your verse, with true Pierian heat inflam’d,
Should be at some more worthy object aim’d.
Think not, good rhymester, that I sought to shew
In my late letter merely what I know,
Nor that I labour’d, with my humble quill,
To bend the universe to suit my will.
My aim, forsooth, was but to do my best
To free these pages from an am’rous pest.

DESCRIPTION: In his poem “Ad Criticos,” Lovecraft responds to those who objected to his criticism of Fred Jackson, a popular romance writer and a frequent contributor to The Argosy.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Ad Criticos.” In The Ancient Track. The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, pp. 203-7.

The Valiant Knights of Peace

We are the valiant Knights of Peace
Who prattle for the Right:
Our banner is of snowy fleece,
Inscribed: “TOO PROUD TO FIGHT!”

By sweet Chautauqua’s flow’ry banks
We love to sing and play,
But should we spy a foeman’s ranks,
We’d proudly run away!

When Prussian fury sweeps the main
Our freedom to deny;
Of tyrant laws we ne’er complain,
But gladsomely comply!

We do not fear the submarines
That plough the troubled foam;
We scorn the ugly old machines—
And safely stay at home!

They say our country’s close to war,
And soon must man the guns;
But we see naught to struggle for—
We love the gentle Huns!

What tho’ their hireling Greaser bands
Invade our southern plains?
We well can spare those boist’rous lands,
Content with what remains!

Our fathers were both rude and bold,
And would not live like brothers;
But we are of a finer mould—
We’re much more like our mothers!

DESCRIPTION: In his poem “Pacifist War Song—1917,” Lovecraft satirizes the pacifists of his generation who were protesting America’s entry into the First World War.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Pacifist War Song—1917.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, p. 401.

Proficient Paul Hath So Much Language Got

Proficient Paul hath so much Language got,
That he appears a very Polyglot.
Latin and Greek he talks with equal Ease,
And daily reads ten Pages of Chinese;
Translates a Russian Sentence at a Glance,
And revels in the fluent Tongue of France.
He thinks in Sanscrit, Arabic, and Such,
And writes his Notes in Hebrew and High-Dutch.
In sweet Italian sings a soft Refrain,
And greets us in the stately Speech of Spain.
In fine, to him consummately is known
Each Language, dead or living, but his own.

DESCRIPTION: In his poem “On an Accomplished Young Linguist,” Lovecraft gently mocks Americans who, despite their ignorance of English, consider themselves linguists because they have studied foreign languages.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “On an Accomplished Young Linguist.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, p. 266.

The Simple Speller’s Tale

(Translated into English)

When first among the amateurs I fell,
I blush’d in shame because I could not spell.
Tho’ skill’d in numbers, and at ease in prose,
My letters I could never well dispose.
Thoughts came abundant, language was the same;
Yet none the less I scarce could spell my name!
The kindly printer (with an eye for trade)
A clumsy care for all my work display’d:
Indiff’rent as I was, I us’d his art
Till critics cry’d, “My printer should be shot!”
Thus boldly censur’d, I began to seek
A means to thwart the rude reviewers’ clique:
My fever’d eye in rage I cast around,
When all at once the wish’d-for plan I found.
It happen’d on a summer’s holiday,
That past a madhouse gate I took my way.
Within that bedlam was a sage confin’d,
Who had from too much study lost his mind.
Now strolling out, in watchful keeper’s care,
With childish sounds the madman fill’d the air.
Still dreaming of his letter’s days of yore,
His ravings on remember’d subjects bore:
Dim came the thoughts of what he us’d to teach,
And he began to curse our English speech.
“Aha!” quoth he, “the men that made our tongue
Were arrant rogues, and I shall have them hung.
For long-establish’d customs what care we?
Come, let us tear down etymology.
Let spelling fly, and naught but sound remain;
The world is mad, and I alone am sane!”
Thus rav’d the sage; inventing, as he walk’d,
A hundred ways to spell our words as talk’d.
He simplify’d until his fancy bred
A system quite as simple as his head.
In scholarship disastrous change he wrought,
And alter’d, as he went, for want of thought.
But I, attentive, heard with joyful ear
The wild distortions, and perversions queer.
Why could not I defend my ill-spell’d page
In progress’ name, and with reformer’s rage?
With hope renew’d, I hasten’d home to write,
And passing wondrous was my work that night;
For classic purity I sought no more,
But strove to make worse blunders than before.
O fickle fortune! In a week my name
From scholars’ praise attain’d immortal fame,
Whilst other scribes with vague orthography
Siez’d on the clever ruse, and copy’d me.
Today in ev’ry Skateville Amateur
Amorphous letters pass as language pure,
And when some pompous pedant dares to raise
A voice remonstrant ‘gainst our foolish ways,
We never fail the apt retort to give,
But damn him as a blind CONSERVATIVE.

Yet why on us your angry hand or wrath use?
We do but ape Professor B———— M————!

DESCRIPTION: In his poem “The Simple Speller’s Tale,” which mentions literary critic Brander Matthews by name, Lovecraft uses eighteenth-century forms to mock advocates of simplified spelling.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “The Simple Speller’s Tale.” The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Hippocampus Press, 2013, pp. 214-5.

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.