“‘Till A’ the Seas’“

“‘Till A’ the Seas’“
   Short story (3,300 words); written in collaboration withR. H.Barlow, January 1935. First published in the Californian(Summer 1935); first collected in HM(1970 ed.); corrected text in HM Humanity finds himself in dire straits as the earth gradually approaches closer and closer to the sun. Drought ravages the planet “for unnumbered aeons,” and towns, cities, and entire countries are deserted as the few struggling remnants of mankind seek the final traces of water near the poles. At length all the oceans dry up. Finally humanity is reduced to hundreds, then tens. A young man named Ull is compelled to leave his dwelling when his companion, an old woman named Mladdna, finally dies. In search of both water and companionship, he seeks out a colony that he has heard dwells over the mountains; but when he reaches the huts of the colony, he realizes that everyone is dead. Then, in the middle of the town, he sees a well. Groping for the chain and bucket in the well, Ull slips and falls into it, dying. He is the last man on earth.
   Barlow’s typescript, with HPL’s revisions in pen, survives, so that the exact degree of the latter’s authorship can be ascertained (see the article by Joshi, in which the text is reproduced with HPL’s words placed in brackets). HPL has made no significant structural changes, merely making cosmetic changes in style and diction; but he has written the bulk of the concluding section, especially the purportedly cosmic reflections when the last man on earth finally meets his ironic death. The title is from Robert Burns’s “A Red, Red Rose” (1796): “Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear….”
   See S.T.Joshi, “Lovecraft’s Contribution to ‘Till A’ the Seas,’” Crypt No. 17 (Hallowmas 1983): 33–39.

An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. .

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