“Poetry and the Gods“
- Short story (2,540 words); written in collaboration with Anna Helen Crofts, probably in the summer of 1920. First published in the United Amateur(September 1920) (as by “Anna Helen Crofts and Henry Paget-Lowe”); first collected in The Lovecraft Collectors Library,Volume 1 (1952); corrected text in D.Marcia is a young woman who, though “outwardly a typical product of modern civilisation,” feels strangely out of tune with her time. She picks up a magazine and reads a piece of free verse, finding it so evocative that she lapses into a languid dream in which Hermes comes to her and wafts her to Parnassus where Zeus is holding court. She is shown six individuals sitting before the Corycian cave; they are Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Goethe, and Keats. “These were those messengers whom the Gods had sent to tell men that Pan had passed not away, but only slept; for it is in poetry that Gods speak to men.” Zeus tellsMarcia that she will meet a man who is “our latest-born messenger,” a man whose poetry will somehow bring order to the chaos of the modern age. She later meets this person, “the young poet of poets at whose feet sits all the world,” and he thrills her with his poetry.Nothing is known about the origin of this story (which HPL never mentions in any extant correspondence) nor about HPL’s coauthor, aside from the fact that she resided at 343 West Main Street in North Adams, Mass., in the far northwestern corner of the state. Probably the impetus for writing the story came from Crofts; she may also have written the tidbits of free verse in the story, since HPL despised free verse (and actually comments in the story that “It was only a bit of vers fibre,that pitiful compromise of the poet who overleaps prose yet falls short of the divine melody of numbers…”). The prose of the rest of the story appears to be HPL’s.
An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. S.T. Joshi, David E. Schultz.
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