Fungi from Yuggoth


Fungi from Yuggoth
   Series of thirty-five sonnets initially, dated December 27, 1929–January 4, 1930 (ms., JHL). The complete cycle of thirty-six poems was not published in its entirety until BWS;the separate appearance Fungi from Yuggoth([Washington, D.C.:] Bill Evans, June 1943) lacks the final three sonnets.
   In the first three sonnets, the unnamed narrator obtains a mysterious tome—a “book that told the hidden way/Across the void and through the space-hung screens”—from an ancient bookseller and is followed home by an unseen pursuer. The remaining poems, which HPL considered suitable for publication independent of the introductory poems, are discontinuous vignettes concerning a variety of unrelated weird themes, told in the first person and (apparently) third person. The cumulative effect is that of a series of shifting dream images.
   The poem was written following a burst of versifying, after a long hiatus, that occurred in late 1929, the other poems being “Recapture,” The East India Brick Row,” “The Outpost,” and “The Messenger.” HPL referred to the Fungias “pseudo-sonnets,” not out of modesty but because he recognized that most were a hybrid form combining elements of the classic Petrarchan and Shakespearean sonnet forms, contrived to provide an element of surprise in the final line. He lent the poem to Elizabeth Toldridge in mid-January, writing: “There are 33 here, but I shall probably grind out a dozen or so more before I consider the sequence concluded” ( SL3.116). To date HPL had written thirty-five, leaving aside the two concluding poems in the event that he did indeed “grind out” others. He did not. His typescript of the cycle long consisted of only thirty-three poems (Clark Ashton Smith had one such copy). When R.H.Barlow prepared a new typescript (in September 1934), “Evening Star” and “Continuity” finally were included (numbered XXXIV and XXXV as when HPL first composed them). It was not until 1936, when Barlow planned an edition of the complete cycle, that Fungi from Yuggoth achieved its present form, with “Recapture” (mid-November 1929) inserted as the third to last poem and “Evening Star” and “Continuity” renumbered to accommodate it.
   HPL published five of the poems in the Providence Journalin 1930. WTselected another ten, publishing them under the heading “Fungi from Yuggoth” but renumbering the poems to coincide with the shortened selection. Over the next six years, HPL gave others to amateur or fan publications, including Causerie, Driftwind, Fantasy Fan, Galleon, Interesting Items, Phantagraph, Pioneer, Science-Fantasy Correspondent, Science Fiction Barb,and Silver Fern. Poems accepted by Fantasy Magazine, Fantaisiste’s Mirror, Recluse,and Ripples from Lake Champlainnever appeared. Many poems appeared more than once in magazines during HPL’s lifetime; two appeared in books: “The Canal” in Harvest: A Sheaf of Poems fromDriftwind (1933) and “Harbour Whistles” in Threads in Tapestry(1936). Only “Expectancy” (XXVIII) was never published periodically. For the name Yuggoth, see entry on “The Whisperer in Darkness.”
   See Winfield Townley Scott, “A Parenthesis on Lovecraft as a Poet” ( FDOC211–16); R.Boerem, “The Continuity of the Fungi from Yuggoth” ( FDOC222–25); David E.Schultz, “H.P.Lovecraft’s Fungi from Yuggoth,” Crypt No. 20 (Eastertide 1984): 3–7; Ralph E.Vaughan, “The Story in Fungi from Yuggoth” Crypt No. 20 (Eastertide 1984): 9–11; David E.Schultz, “The Lack of Continuity in Fungi from Yuggoth,” Crypt No. 20 (Eastertide 1984): 12–16; Donald R. Burleson, “Scansion Problems in Lovecraft’s ‘Mirage,’” LSNo. 24 (Spring 1991): 18–19, 21; Robert H.Waugh, “The Structural and Thematic Unity of Fungi from Yuggoth,” LSNo. 26 (Spring 1992): 2–14; Dan Clore, “Metonyms of Alterity: A Semiotic Interpretation of Fungi from Yuggoth” LS No. 30 (Spring 1994): 21–32.

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