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All Hallows’ Eve with H.P. Lovecraft

 

In the spirit of All Hallows’ Eve, both past and present, we’re getting our spooky on around Twisted Sister with a visit with one of the great-grandfathers of modern day horror. (For a great-grandmother, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, check out the Monstrous Essay on Monsters, where we feature this leading lady and the force behind Frankenstein.)

Jump forward a few decades and visit H.P. Lovecraft – king of the pulps, magazines for fantasy and science fiction, where his short stories were first published.

We have a sampling of some of our favourite poems – and yes, we’re publishing these excerpt at our own peril; copyright surrounding the work of H.P. Lovecraft has been surrounded in mystery, and a search to ascertain ownership of his work and the status of copyright (given that the work was originally published in the 1920s and 30s, it should be considered public domain) led to the dire warnings that no one has successfully reprinted his work, but we’re confident that just an excerpt won’t hurt anyone – will it?

So, to brave superstition, we offer you a selection of excerpts: Psychopompos: A Tale in Rhyme (1919), a poem that inspired Liz McAdam’s Fortune Becomes You; and the spooky Halloween in a Suburb (1926); as well as Despair, a poem that’s at once elegant, spooky, and filled with heartache all at once.

We suggest viewing these poems at your own risk, and be sure to give H.P. Lovecraft’s short stories a good read – Eldritch Tales is available on the decidedly non-spooky Amazon website – read them if you dare.

 

PSYCHOPOMPOS: A TALE IN RHYME

In an old Auvergne, when schools were poor and few,

And peasant fancy’d what they scarcely knew,

When lord and gentry shunn’d their monarch’s throne

For solitary castles of their own,

There dwelt a man of rank, whose fortress stood

In the hush’d twilight of a hoary wood.

De Blois his name, his lineage high and vast,

A proud memorial of an honour’d past;

But curious swains would whisper now and then

That Sieur De Blois was not as other men.

In person dark and lean, with glossy hair,

And gleaming teeth that he would often bare,

With piercing eye, and stealthy roving glance,

And tongue that clipt the soft, sweet speech of France;

The Sieur was little lov’d ad seldom seen,

So close he kept within his own demesne.

The castle servants, few, discreet, and old,

Full many a tale of strangeness might have told;

But bow’d with years, they rarely left the door

Wherein their sires and grandsires serv’d before.

Thus gossip rose, as gossip rises best,

When mystery imparts a keener zest;

Seclusion oft the poison tongue attracts,

And scandal prospers on a dearth of facts.

 

Second excerpt from PSYCHOPOMPOS: A TALE IN RHYME

‘Twas Candlemas, the dreariest time of year,

With fall long gone, and spring too far to cheer,

When little Jean, the bailiff’s son and heir,

Fell sick and threw the doctors in despair.

A child so stout and strong that few would thing

An hour might carry him to death’s dark brink,

Yet pale he lay, though hidden was the cause,

And Galens search’d in vain through Nature’s laws.

But stricken sadness could not quite surpass

The roving thought, or wrinkled grandam’s guess:

Though spoke by stealth, ‘twas known to half a score

That Dame De Blois rode by the day before;

She had (they said) with glances weird and wild

Paus’d by the gate to view the prattling child,

Nor did they like the smile which seem’d to trace

New lines of evil on her proud, dark face.

 

End of excerpt – to read the rest, be sure to check out H.P. Lovecraft’s Eldritch Tales

 

HALLOWEEN IN A SUBURB

The steeples are white in the wild moonlight,

And the trees have a silver glare,

Past the chimneys high see the vampires fly,

And the harpies of upper air,

That flutter and laugh and stare.

For the village dead to the moon outspread

Never shone in the sunset’s gleam,

But grew out of the deep that the dead years keep

Where the rivers of madness stream

Down the gulfs to a pit of dream.

 

End of excerpt – to read the rest, be sure to check out H.P. Lovecraft’s Eldritch Tales

 

DESPAIR

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 wicked death-fires shining,

Hears the wicked petrel’s whining

As he helpless drifts to sea.

 

Evil wings in ether beating;

Vultures at the spirit eating;

Things unseen forever fleeting

Black against the leering sky.

 

End of Excerpt – to read the rest, be sure to check out H.P. Lovecraft’s Eldritch Tales, or drop by http://www.hplovecraft.com/ for full length pieces (they seem braver with copyright than we are)

 

(Photo of author’s page from Eldritch Tales)

 

 

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