Tuesday, January 13, 2015

H. P Lovecraft's Beautiful "Despair"

In all the poetry courses I took in college, I was never assigned H. P Lovecraft. In fact, I hadn't read any of Lovecraft's work until recently. I guess he isn't part of the literary canon. It seems like every blog post or review that covers anything remotely gothic mentions Lovecraft as one of the original gothic writers and a great influence to many. I figured I had to familiarize myself with such a cool and respected guy. Finding that he has a huge body of work I randomly picked one of his poems and found the beautiful poem "Despair". From just reading that one piece I can understand why he's considered a great early gothic horror writer.

Just the first stanza can stand alone as a great piece of literary horror :

"In the night-wind madly flying,
     Hellish forms with streaming hair;"

How many horror movies have we seen a scene just like that? Too many to count, probably and that's just two lines from the first stanza of the five stanza poem. Every line is packed with dark emotion and fear and the simple title describes it all. Not to mention the intense imagery:

"Ghastly shades of bygone gladness,
Clawing fiends of future sadness,
Mingle in a cloud of madness
     Ever on the soul to lie."

Not only will you be sad throughout eternity, but you were happy once so you'll know what you're missing! I love his choice of adjectives, "ghastly" and "clawing", especially where ghastly describes "bygone gladness". You wouldn't think gladness would be ghastly, but gladness never to be experienced again could be a ghastly memory.  Cool!

I'll definitely be reading more Lovecraft. 

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