Lovecraft’s Poetry - 711 words

Published by Lemex in the blog Lemex's Blog. Views: 116

H.P. Lovecraft is best remembered as a prose writer, and a writer or ‘weird fiction’; but Lovecraft also wrote poetry, and wrote about poetry very capably. This is not to say that Lovecraft was a great poet, far from it. Much of his earlier work are imitations of 18th century verse, especially Pope, and much of his later work are attempts to get away from imitating 18th century verse, mostly by imitating Poe.

However, this does not mean that Lovecraft was a bad poet, just a largely unoriginal one; but since Lovecraft’s poetry was light hearted, and mostly for fun [1] we can forgive this. But despite this, Lovecraft’s poetry still has its own merits. For example:

This is taken from the 1924 poem Providence, a poem about his home city. In these lines we find a consistent metre, being in Iambic pentameter, and consistent line lengths of eight syllables, then six syllables and then back to eight. Another notable thing about these lines is that their imagery are present and clear, while these lines also charge a very strong emotion, or feeling of reflection.

Another excellent poem by Lovecraft is The Garden which also shows off all of these positive aspects of his poetry. However, this poem is also hurt by archaic throw-backs Such as the words ‘o’er’ and ‘flow’rs’ in the finishing couplet:

These archaic touches are found in Providence too; however given the tone and subject of that poem they are allowable. This use of archaic grammar is typical for Lovecraft’s other work, and he is both derided and admired for this. However, despite this The Garden is a worthy poem, and the imagery, flow and emotion is easily felt by the reader.

This charging of imagery and feeling is not found in all of his poems however, and it is absent from his 1919 poem Sunset. Another side of Lovecraft’s poetry that can be seen as regrettable is his sometimes blatant racism, which also colours his prose. Which these poems, and reading them with our modern perspectives, it can difficult to take Lovecraft’s poems seriously. See for an example On the Creation of Niggers.

This is not to say that these are the only faults of Lovecraft’s poetry, his racism, prison-like antiquarianism, and sometimes lack of genuine emotion. And this is not to say that Lovecraft is worth an examination because it is. Forgiving the flaws then there are some of Lovecraft’s poems that are worthy of attention, as I hopefully have briefly shown. There are other positives to his poesy too: poems such as Waste Paper and To Charlie of the Comics are rather funny, which is not something which can be said about his prose; and his poems are also more easily read this his prose, as there is less verboseness.

It is sad, then, that no serious study of his poems has been published outside of Science Fiction websites; and an even greater shame that his poems are not so easily available. There are now Kindle documents out with his poems on, and complete collections of his poetical works in large books, but the books are extremely expensive and Kindle documents are of course exclusive. Hopefully soon there will be a small, mass produced book of his poems, along with his essays on poetry such as The Allowable Rhyme, The Despised Pastoral and Metrical Regularity for book lovers to enjoy. It seems certain such a book would interest Lovecraft fans, as his poetical work is very seldom mentioned and not well known. But with Lovecraft’s ever increasing popularity a book such as this seems not very far off.

1 - This is because I do not try at all to be a poet in any serious sense. My verse is simply antiquarianism and nothing more.'" [Letter to Miss Tolridge - 8 Mar 1929]
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