Juvenile Works: Poetry


Juvenile Works: Poetry
   HPL’s earliest surviving work is a poem: “The Poem of Ulysses: Written for Young People.” The extant manuscript is labeled a “second edition” and dated to November 8, 1897; the first edition presumably dates prior to August 20, 1897, since HPL states that the work was initially written at the age of six (“A Confession of Unfaith” [1922]). It is a retelling of the basic plot of the Odysseyin 88 lines, based upon HPL’s readings in Bulfinch’s Age of Fable,Pope’s translation of the Odyssey,and a work that HPL refers to as “Harpers Half Hour Series” (presumably a paraphrase of the Odysseyfor juveniles). The meter is derived from HPL’s early favorite, Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It was first published in Juvenilia: 1897–1905 (1984).
   There are four other surviving juvenile poetical works. “Ovid’s Metamorphoses” is a fairly literal verse translation of the first 88 lines of Ovid’s poem (HPL’s version takes 116 lines) and shows that HPL had learned Latin well enough by this time to perform the task. It probably dates to around 1900, as it is listed in a catalogue of works found at the back of Poemata Minora, Volume 2(September 1902). “H.Lovecraft’s Attempted Journey betwixt Providence & Fall River on the N.Y.N.H.H.&H.R.R.” (1901) is a comic poem that speaks of HPL’s first ride on a trolley car through Providence and adjoining suburbs. “C.S.A.: 1861–1865” (1902) is a work supporting the South (Confederate States of America) during the Civil War. HPL notes (letter to Rheinhart Kleiner, November 16, 1916; AHT) that he placed it on the desk of Abbie E.Hathaway (principal of the Slater Avenue School), whose father was a Union soldier. Poemata Minora, Volume 2 consists of five short poems: “Ode to Selene or Diana,” “To the Old Pagan Religion,” “On the Ruin of Rome,” “To Pan,” and “On the Vanity of Human Ambition.” The text is profusely illustrated by HPL’s drawings. HPL published three of the poems (under pseudonyms) in the Tryout,April 1919: the first as “To Selene,” the second as “The Last Pagan Speaks,” and the fourth as “Pan.” Poemata Minoraas a whole was first published in Juvenilia: 1897–1905 . There is no indication of the contents of Volume 1, which apparently dates to 1901. We know of several other nonextant poetical works: “The Iliad” and “The Aeneid” (presumably paraphrases of the ancient epics), “The Hermit,” and “The Argonauts” (presumably a retelling of the voyage of the Argoas recounted by Apollonius Rhodius and other writers).
   One last surviving poem is “De Triumpho Naturae: The Triumph of Ignorance over Northern Ignorance” (July 1905). This viciously racist work is based upon (and dedicated to) William Benjamin Smith, author of the tract The Color Line: A Brief in Behalf of the Unborn(1905), which asserted, among other things, that freed African Americans will eventually die out because of their inherent biological inferiority and their physiological and psychological weaknesses. HPL’s poem is a poetical encapsulation of the idea.
   All extant works are included in AT

An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. .

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