The Ancient Track – A Poem by H.P. Lovecraft

Take a couple of minutes to read this poem by Lovecraft!

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.

 

Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer)

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Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Paul Brannigan, Krystof Hádek

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I didn’t see the drama/sci-fi/thriller Under the Skin (2013) when it was first released (the casting of Scarlett Johansson led me to believe that it would be mainstream naffness), but then I saw it on DVD over xmas, and again the very next night… and again last night finally at the cinema.

It’s fantastic on a little TV with built-in speakers in my house, but good god it’s good at the cinema. I think every possible emotion is represented in the film, from longing to confusion, from fear to lust. Very broadly, the plot consists of an alien (Johansson) luring men to their deaths.

Set in Scotland, mostly on rainy or foggy days, and starring nearly all “non-actors”, Under the Skin is mostly quite dreary when it comes to colour. With the exception of Johansson who looks, well, alien, the film is full of normal, everyday people.

As well as an incredible score from Mica Levi, the sound in this film is very minimalist, featuring a lot of generic and real background noise, and very little dialogue. Each character, each piece of music and each glorious special effect can be described as mysterious and threatening.

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Jonathan Glazer’s very loose adaptation of Under the Skin may be one of the most effective films of its kind.  The kind of films that presents questions rather than answers, tackles mood over narrative, and experiments with both form and content in an attempt to get to the heart of cinema. Film Festival Flix

Glazer’s film takes great care in defining these places that the alien stalks around, as if finding some realism in the fantasy will create a new dialogue between the two.  However, in this sense, Glazer moves away from the norm of this relationship and instead creates fantastical inner landscapes to contrast against the vast, rugged landscape of Scotland in both its rural and cityscape forms… A large part of Glazer’s film is reliant on the alien’s reaction and relation to the social landscape of Scotland. Celluloid Wicker Man

The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers

The King in Yellow (1895) by Robert W. Chambers. It’s strange, it’s weird, it’s horror, sci-fi and romance all in one. The King in Yellow is a book of loosely connected short stories, full of fear and madness.

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Dare you read it? This collection has been called the most important book in American supernatural fiction between Poe and the moderns. H. P. Lovecraft, creator of the famed Cthulu mythos, whose own fiction was greatly influenced by this book stated that The King in Yellow ‘achieves notable heights of cosmic fear’.Moly

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“Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Dim Carcosa.”

—From Cassilda’s Song in The King in Yellow, Act i, Scene 2
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As well as being the title of the anthology, The King in Yellow is also the name of a play within the book, bringing madness to all who witness it. Although the play is never shown in full, it is referred to in a number of the stories.

 There is also a graphic novel by INJ Culbard. One of the UK’s most prolific cartoonists, his work always guarantees an intelligent and instantly recognizable graphic style. Clean lines, bold colors, and characters that wriggle right into the readers’ brain are Culbard’s trademark. In the realm of The King in Yellow, those skills are put to dastardly use as what begins in intrigue ends in poisonous insanity and palpable fright. Publishers Weekly

 Just as T.V. series True Detective borrowed the term Carcosa from Chambers more than a century after The King in Yellow was written, Chambers borrowed the term from Ambrose Bierce and H.P. Lovecraft later borrowed it from Chambers! This all just makes me want to watch series one of True Detective for a third time.

 You can download an audio version of Chambers’ The King in Yellow from Downpour.

Salvador Dali Crazy Kiss Eau de Toilette for Women – It Exists

I spend a lot of time looking at and for strange things, but sometimes I am surprised. You can buy Salvador Dali perfume. Sadly, there is no description of its smell, but I’m hoping for a swan-elephant juxtaposition. Elegant and strong. I’d love to know if anyone has actually tried the stuff.

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Super-famous creator of dreamlike and unique images Salvador Dalí would have celebrated his 112th birthday today, in his own fantasy world. Let’s celebrate by having a brief look at the man and his work.

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I must admit that my interest in Dali has waned as I’ve got older and I tend to roll my eyes when, 99% of the time, he’s the first Surrealist anyone can think of. But his work is wonderful and is always worth looking at.

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The Spanish artist was known to blur the lines between illusion and reality both on the canvas and in his public life, establishing him as an unforgettable figure of the Modern art movement. Biography.com

Here are some facts about the moustachioed man…

According to his autobiography, his childhood was characterized by fits of anger against his parents and schoolmates and resultant acts of cruelty. He was a precocious child, producing highly sophisticated drawings at an early age. He studied painting in Madrid, responding to various influences, especially the metaphysical school of painting founded by Giorgio de Chirico, and at the same time dabbling in cubism.Your Dictionary

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By now considered in artistic circles to be more of a commercial painter, in 1955 Dalí was commissioned to paint a portrait of Laurence Olivier for a film poster for Richard III, in which Olivier played the title role, by the film’s director, Sir Alexander Korda. However, the desired poster never emerged. Despite sketching Olivier in the Shepperton Studios, Dalí refused to paint it in England, which he called “the most unpleasant place”, and returned to Spain to complete the portrait. It got held up in Barcelona Airport after being deemed too valuable to transport. Although Korda was naturally angered by this, Olivier got lucky and received it as a gift.The Telegraph

The surrealists saw in Dali the promise of a breakthrough of the surrealist dilemma in 1930. Many of the surrealists had broken away from the movement, feeling that direct political action had to come before any mental revolutions. Dali put forth his “Paranoic-Critical method” as an alternative to having to politically conquer the world. He felt that his own vision could be imposed on and color the world to his liking so that it became unnecessary to change it objectively. Specifically, the Paranoic-Critical method meant that Dali had trained himself to possess the hallucinatory power to look at one object and “see” another. On the nonvisual level, it meant that Dali could take a myth which had a generally accepted interpretation and impose upon it his own personal and bizarre interpretation. Encyclopedia.com

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I also found this excellent Dali-inspired ring on Etsy. The artist will customise it to your own eye, or that of a loved one.

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Number 13 by M. R. James

It’s time to look at another story from M. R. James and this time it’s the super-creepy Number 13! It comes from his first collection of short stories Ghost Stories of an Antiquary. It concerns a hotel with a mysterious room (which may or may not exist) and men coming together over their shared fear. There’s a hairy clawed hand and everything!

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I downloaded the above book in Kindle format for free from Amazon.

There was a 2006 BBC adaptation of Number 13 starring Greg Wise and Paul Freeman although, I haven’t seen it. Have you seen it? I’d like to know if it’s worth seeking out.

H.P. Lovecraft Covers through the Years

I thought it would be fun to find H.P. Lovecraft book covers that span the decades and put them in order here. Enjoy the terror!

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Astounding Stories – At the Mountains of Madness, 1936

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The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, Livros do Brasil, 1941 (I think this is my favourite!)

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Weird Tales (featuring The Shadow Over Innsmouth), 1942

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The Weird Shadow Over Innsmouth, Bart House, 1944

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Best Supernatural Stories, The World Publishing Company, 1946

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The Survivor and Others, 1957

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Dreams and Fancies, Arkham House, 1962

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The Colour Out of Space – and Others, Lancer Books, 1964

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The Colour Out of Space and Others, Lancer Books 1969

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The Lurking Fear and Other Stories, 1970

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Dans L’abime du Temps, 1973 (or maybe this is my favourite…)

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Watchers Out of Time and Others, Arkham House, 1974

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The Colour Out of Space, Zebra Books, 1975

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El Caso de Charles Dexter Ward, Alianza/Biblioteca de Fantasia y Terror, 1998

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An H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia, Hippocampus Press, 2004

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Beyond the Wall of Sleep (Complete Works), CreateSpace Indie, 2013