Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday's Poetry: "Despair"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Aficionado 

Every now and then I head into a morbid phase where I long to break out my worn volume of H.P. Lovecraft (Library of America Edition) and revisit those creepy environs that he imagined and populated with troubled souls and monsters.  Indeed, there are times when I truly miss Miskatonic University and its ivy-covered halls of horror.  I have read my collection of Lovecraft twice, and will certainly drift there again in the not too distant future.

But not today.

Lovecraft's forte was in the realm of short-story writing, almost all of which he sold to pulp fiction magazines for as little as a penny or two a word.  That payment by the word no doubt encouraged some of his more lengthy flights into descriptive phrasing and narrative.   Lovecraft became a true master of the horror genre - a recognized successor to Edgar Allen Poe.  (Lovecraft, like Poe, died young and did not achieve wide recognition or fame until long after he was  in the ground.)

What follows is an H.P. Lovecraft poem that examines the poet's dark places.  The cheerful little ditty is aptly titled "Despair."

by H.P. Lovecraft

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 demons 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,
Bold 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.
Ghastly shades of bygone gladness,
Clawing fiends of future sadness,
Mingle in a cloud of madness
Ever on the soul to lie.

Thus the living, lone and sobbing,
In the throes of anguish throbbing,
With the loathsome Furies robbing
Night and noon of peace and rest.
But beyond the groans and grating
Of abhorrent Life, is waiting
Sweet Oblivion, culminating
All the years of fruitless quest.

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