- “Poe-et’s Nightmare, The“
- Poem (303 lines); written in 1916 (see SL1.59). First published in the Vagrant(July 1918); rpt. WT (July 1952) (central section only; titled “Aletheia Phrikodes”).One of HPL’s longest poems, and perhaps his most ambitious single weird poem. It recounts (in rhyming couplets) how Lucullus Languish, a “student of the skies” but also a “connoisseur of rarebits and mince pies,” overate and had the nightmare related in the central section of the poem, written— unusually for HPL—in Miltonic blank verse (whose Greek title, “Aletheia Phrikodes,” means “the frightful truth”). Here Lucullus is taken by a nameless guide on a voyage through the universe and shown the insignificance of humanity within the boundless reaches of space and time. Horrified, Languish wakes up and (in a resumption of the rhyming couplets) resolves never to mix food and poetry again.The work is perhaps HPL’s first enunciation of cosmicism, predating even his early stories (e.g., “Dagon”). In later years HPL found the rhymed framework dissatisfying, thinking that it detracted from the seriousness of the cosmic message; accordingly, when R.H.Barlow was contemplating issuing HPL’s collected verse, HPL instructed Barlow to omit that part. HPL revised a small part of the blank verse section (“Alone in space, I view’d a feeble fleck…”) and included it in “May Skies” ([Providence] Evening News,May 1, 1917).See R.Boerem, “A Lovecraftian Nightmare” (in FDOC).
An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. S.T. Joshi, David E. Schultz.
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