Letter to Clark Ashton Smith

From H. P. Lovecraft

Dec-3, 1929

To Klarkash-Ton, High-Priest of Tsathoggua, Greetings:—

I must not delay in expressing my well-nigh delirious delight at The Tale of Satampra Zeiros—which has veritably given me the one archkick of 1929! Yug! n'gha k'yun bth'gth R'Iyeh glIur ph'ngui Cthulhu yzkaa .... what an atmosphere! I can see & feel & smell the jungle around immemorial Commoriom, which I am sure must lie buried today in glacial ice near Plathoë, in the land of Lomar! It is of this crux of elder horror, I am certain, that the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred was thinking when he—even he—left something unmention'd & signify'd by a row of stars in the surviving codex of his accursed & forbidden Necronomicon! You have achieved in its fullest glamour the exact Dunsanian touch which I find it almost impossible to duplicate, & I am sure that even the incomparable Nuth would have been glad to own Satampra Zeiros as his master. Altogether, I think this comes close to being your high spot in prose fiction to date—for Zothar's sake keep it up .... my anticipations assume fantastic proportions!

Congratulations on the Venus of Azombeii—& I hope Wright publishes it soon. Your description of The Monster of the Prophecy sounds ineffably promising, & I am all agog to see the accomplished result. A good interplanetary or interstellar tale has yet to adorn the pages of our sorry old red-cover'd standby, & I fervently hope that Cap'n Farnsworth will permit you to make the innovation! I shall sooner or later get around to the interplanetary field myself—& you may depend upon it that I shall not choose Edmond Hamilton, Ray Cummings, or Edgar Rice Burroughs as my model ! I doubt if I shall have any living race upon the orb whereto I shall—either spiritually or corporeally—precipitate my hero. But there will be Cyclopean ruins—god! what ruins!—& certain presences that haunt the nether vaults.

Yes—I hope to get at some more signed original fiction within a month. I say "signed", because the "revision" job I'm doing now is the composition of an original tale from a single paragraph of locale & subject orders —not even a plot germ. The only reason I do this kind of thing is that the pay is absolutely certain, whereas on signed original work one has to take one's chances of acceptance or rejection. I'll point out any tales which are unacknowledgedly mine, either wholly or in part, when or if they appear in print. My present job is a Reed yarn to be entitled The Mound—with the Oklahoma locale of "Yig," but with ramifications extending to blasphemously elder worlds, & a race of beings that came down from the stars with Great Cthulhu. I also bring in a Spaniard who deserted from Coronado's party in 1541. This job—& the two De Castro jobs preceding it—will tend to limber up my fictional pen for the spontaneous effusions to follow! Meanwhile—by the way—I have for the first time in my life received a bit of literary notice locally, The literary editor of the Journal—Bertrand H. Hart—stumbled on my Cthulhu in the Harré anthology, (although I hadn't mentioned that I wrote fiction myself when I recently joined in some weird-tale discussion in his daily Sideshow column) & was quite excited because he used to live at 7 Thomas Street—the very house in the ancient Providence hill lane where I located the young sculptor Wilcox! That surely was a record-breaking coincidence—or would have been, had not the house in question been a special centre for all sorts & conditions of aesthetes. He praised Cthulhu quite generously in the Journal but swore that, in revenge for my saddling a horror on his old quarter, he would confer with the local wraiths & ghouls & send a monstrous visitor to my doorstep at 3 a.m.! This threat—made in last Friday's Journal—has caused me to send him the following account of how his nameless messenger was received:

THE MESSENGER

—To B. K. Hart, Esq.—

The Thing, he said would come that night at three
From the old churchyard* on the hill below;
But crouching by an oak fire's wholesome glow,
I tried to tell myself it could not be.
Surely, I mused, it was a pleasantry
Devised by one who could not truly know
The Elder Sign, bequeathed from long ago,
That sets the fumbling forms of darkness free.
He had not meant it—no—but still I lit
Another lamp as starry Leo climbed
Out of the Seekonk**, & steeple chimed
Three—& the firelight faded, bit by bit.
Then at the door that cautious rattling came—
And the mad truth devoured me like a flame!


*The ancient churchyard of St. John's, where the roots of old trees twine amongst slabs & altar-stones dating back to 1723, lies on the steep hill about 5 blocks from 10 Barnes St. It is wholly hidden from all public streets by the quadtangle of the ancient church & dioceasan houses. No more picturesque & sinister necropolis exists in the U. S.—it is a true prototype of the Randolph Carter locale!

**The river forming the eastern boundary of Providence—on whose unchanged wooded banks & bluffs I have been wont to ramble since infancy.

Congratulating you again on Satampra, I arn
Ever yr most obt
HPL

Selected Letters (Arkham House) 383

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Printed on: November 19, 2017