The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H.P. Lovecraft

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9781892389152: The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H.P. Lovecraft

H. P. Lovecraft is best known for his fiction, but he spent a great portion of his creative energy on his poetry. The Ancient Track collects the complete poetry of one of the twentieth centuries most iconic writers. The great majority of these poems were written between 1914, and 1920, the period of Lovecraft's heaviest concentration on poetry.

Lovecraft's poetry may be regarded as the lesser of is literary output, but it merits collection precisely because it is an important ancillary to his other more well known forms of creative endeavor. Prior to the publication of The Ancient Track, Lovecraft's poetry had been scattered across several different volumes whose textual accuracy has not always been exemplary, while several poems had been uncollected.

"The Ancient Track"
By H. P. Lovecraft

There was no hand to hold me back
That night I found the ancient track
Over the hill, and strained to see
The fields that teased my memory.
This tree, that wall-I knew them well,
And all the roofs and orchards fell
Familiarly upon my mind
As from a past not far behind.
I knew what shadows would be cast
When the late moon came up at last
From back of Zaman's Hill, and how
The vale would shine three hours from now.
And when the path grew steep and high,
And seemed to end against the sky,
I had no fear of what might rest
Beyond that silhouetted crest.
Straight on I walked, while all the night
Grew pale with phosphorescent light,
And wall and farmhouse gable glowed
Unearthly by the climbing road.
There was the milestone that I knew-
"Two miles to Dunwich"-now the view
Of distant spire and roofs would dawn
With ten more upward paces gone. . . .

There was no hand to hold me back
That night I found the ancient track,
And reached the crest to see outspread
A valley of the lost and dead:
And over Zaman's Hill the horn
Of a malignant moon was born,
To light the weeds and vines that grew
On ruined walls I never knew.
The fox-fire glowed in field and bog,
And unknown waters spewed a fog
Whose curling talons mocked the thought
That I had ever known this spot.
Too well I saw from the mad scene
That my loved past had never been-
Nor was I now upon the trail
Descending to that long-dead vale.
Around was fog-ahead, the spray
Of star-streams in the Milky Way. . . .
There was no hand to hold me back
That night I found the ancient track.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Several Lovecraft poetry volumes have appeared over the years, notably Arkham House's Collected Poems (1963), but here at last is an attractive, scholarly edition that collects every known scrap of verse from the cosmic Yankee's pen. Joshi, author of the definitive biography, Lovecraft: A Life (1996), and editor of the corrected texts of HPL's fiction, has sensibly divided the book thematically: juvenilia, fantasy and horror (a relatively small portion of the whole), occasional verse, satire, seasonal and topographical, amateur affairs, politics and society, and personal. Since Lovecraft's models date no later than his beloved 18th century, his poetry as such (the bulk of it written in his amateur journalist phase, before he hit his stride as a horror writer) contributes nothing to the advancement of the form. With their archaic diction and references to obscure colleagues, some poems are well-nigh unreadable (here Joshi's notes are especially helpful), but Lovecraft's sense of humor (virtually absent in his fiction) surfaces in many lighter poems that require no annotation, while his more serious verse reveals much about his Anglophilic and conservative social and political attitudes as a young man. Also included are Alfredo; A Tragedy, HPL's one play, and a section of fragments, along with a chronology and an index of titles and of first lines. This is an essential tome for every self-respecting Lovecraftian, if for few others.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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