Saturday, April 26, 2008

From Spring 1948 Arkham Sampler

By H. P. LOVECRAFT The late H. P. Lovecraft was a letter-writer without peer in his time. His range of subjects was virtually unlimited, and he wrote with scholarly erudition but never with academic stodginess. He wrote far more letters than his combined total of all other writing, ranging all the way from his early astronomical articles for his Providence newspaper through his poems, essays, and stories. The letters presented herewith are selected at random to impart the flavor of H. P. Lovecraft’s letters, primarily, and afford readers a taste of what is to come in the Selected Letters. Readers will note especially the headings, the salutations, and the closings of certain of these letters. These are selected extracts and not complete letters.

To his Aunt, Lillian Clark
259 Parkside Avenue Brooklyn, New York September 29, 1924 (Finish’d Tuesday, Sept. 30)
My dear Daughter Lillian: — On Friday the 19th, at four-thirty p. m., I welcomed Samuelus (Loveman). He was feeling rather weak, however, so that he slept in the morris-chair most of the time, whilst I continued to work. After dinner he felt much better, and I accompanied him to his room in Columbia Heights, where I met the redoubtable Hart Crane, a little ruddier, a little puffier, and slightly more moustached than when I saw him in Cleveland two years ago. Crane, whatever his limitations, is a thorough aesthete; and I had some enjoyable conversation with him. His room is in excellent taste, with a few paintings by ‘William Sommer (that elderly eccentric whom I described when I visited Cleveland), a choice collection of modern books, and some splendid small objets d’art of which a carven Buddha and an exquisitely carved Chinese ivory box are the high spots. Loveman’s room is at the other end of the hall, with an outlook over the East River and a stupendous panorama of the Manhattan skyline. I nearly swooned with aesthetic exaltation when I beheld the panorama—the evening scene with innumerable lights in the skyscrapers, shimmering reflections and bobbing ship lights on the water, and at the extreme left and right, the flaming Statue of Liberty and the scintillant arc of the Brooklyn Bridge, respectively. But even this was not exactly the climax. That came when we went out on the flat roof (Crane and Loveman are on the fourth and top story) and saw the thing in all its unlimited and unglassed magnificence. It was something mightier than the dreams of old-world legend - a constellation of infernal majesty - a poem in Babylonian fire! No wonder Dunsany waxed rhapsodic about it when he saw it for the first time - it is beyond description by any but him! Added to the weird lights are the weird sounds of the port, where the trraffick {sic} of all the world cmes to a focus. Fog-horns, ships' bells, the creak of distant windlasses - visions of far shores of India, where bright-plumed birds are roused to song by the incense of strange garden-girt pagodas, and gaudy-robed camel-drivers barter before sandal-wood taverns with deep-voiced sailors having the sea's mystery in their eyes. Silks and spices, curiously-wrought ornaments of Bengal gold, and gods and elephants starngely carven in jade and carnelian. Ah, me! Would that I could express the magick of the scene! Crane is writing a long poem on Brooklyn Bridge in a modern medium, which may some time be printed in the Dial. ... I subscribe myself as ever Yr. most aff: mephew and pbt: Servt: H.P.L.

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