“Waste Paper: A Poem of Profound Insignificance“


“Waste Paper: A Poem of Profound Insignificance“
   Poem (134 lines); probably written in late 1922 or early 1923. First publication unknown; rpt. Books at Brown26 (1978): 48–52.
   A devastating parody of T.S.Eliot’s The Waste Land, which, when it appeared in the Dial(November 1922), was billed a “poem of profound significance.” It is a pendant to HPL’s condemnation of Eliot’s poem in the editorial “Rudis Indigestaque Moles” ( Conservative,March 1923), in which he declares The Waste Land to be “a practically meaningless collection of phrases, learned allusions, quotations, slang, and scraps in general.” HPL’s poem (the only one of his poems aside from “Plaster-All” [1922] written in free verse) is similarly composed of quotations (from Pope’s Odyssey,popular songs, etc.), self-referential allusions (“We called ourselves the Blackstone Military Band”), puns (including the pungent conclusion: “Nobody home/In the shantih,” parodying Eliot’s concluding “Shantih shantih shantih”), and the like. The epigraph is HPL’s Greek translation of his nihilistic utterance, “All is laughter, all is dust, all is nothing” (rendered into Latin as the epigraph to the “Aletheia Phrikodes” section of “The Poe-et’s Nightmare”). HPL claimed ( SL 4.159) the poem was published in “the newspaper” (probably the [Providence] Evening Bulletin), but exhaustive searches in this and other Providence papers have yielded nothing.
   See Barton L. St. Armand and John H.Stanley, “H.P.Lovecraft’s Waste Paper: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Draft,” Books at Brown26 (1978): 31–47.

An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. .

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