31 HORROR STORIES – Conclusion

Ever wonder how H.P. Lovecraft felt about Halloween? Think about this while you’re walking around tonight, feeling the Eldritch chill in the blandest of landscapes:

The steeples are white in the wild moonlight,
And the trees have a silver glare;
Past the chimneys high see the vampires fly,
And the harpies of upper air,
That flutter and laugh and stare.

For the village dead to the moon outspread
Never shone in the sunset’s gleam,
But grew out of the deep that the dead years keep
Where the rivers of madness stream
Down the gulfs to a pit of dream.

A chill wind blows through the rows of sheaves
In the meadows that shimmer pale,
And comes to twine where the headstones shine
And the ghouls of the churchyard wail
For harvests that fly and fail.

Not a breath of the strange grey gods of change
That tore from the past its own
Can quicken this hour, when a spectral power
Spreads sleep o’er the cosmic throne,
And looses the vast unknown.

So here again stretch the vale and plain
That moons long-forgotten saw,
And the dead leap gay in the pallid ray,
Sprung out of the tomb’s black maw
To shake all the world with awe.

And all that the morn shall greet forlorn,
The ugliness and the pest
Of rows where thick rise the stones and brick,
Shall some day be with the rest,
And brood with the shades unblest.

Then wild in the dark let the lemurs bark,
And the leprous spires ascend;
For new and old alike in the fold
Of horror and death are penned,
For the hounds of Time to rend.

For the “…hounds of Time to rend”?! Wow! I’m glad H.P. never wrote a Thanksgiving poem.

There was no way I was going to choose between Lovecraft and Poe for the number one spot. Not this time. And I figured it’d be silly to pick a single Lovecraft story, ’cuz there’s too many good ones, and I’m too busy re-reading all his stuff and re-discovering new depths. So, this Hallowe’en poem. Which starts out greeting-card fun, and ends with the “hounds of Time” rending all reality and hope.

Which one of you kids wants some candy?

I also wasn’t going to choose one single Poe story. So this poem, which ALSO starts out sunny and lyrical, and ends with one of the most horrifying visuals I’ve ever read.

Keep in mind, when “The Haunted Palace” was turned into a movie by Roger Corman in the 60’s, he hired Charles Beaumont to write it — and Charles instead adapted H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward”, and shoe-horned it into the world of Poe’s poem. So the Justice League-level of Mighty Horror Fiction Powers meeting up for that one project makes this poem even more special:

In the greenest of our valleys
By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace –
Radiant palace – reared its head.
In the monarch Thought’s dominion –
It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair!

Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow,
(This – all this – was in the olden
Time long ago,)
And every gentle air that dallied,
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
A winged odor went away.

Wanderers in that happy valley,
Through two luminous windows, saw
Spirits moving musically,
To a lute’s well-tuned law,
Round about a throne where, sitting
In state his glory well-befitting,
The ruler of the realm was seen.

And all with pearl and ruby glowing
Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing,
And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king.

But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch’s high estate.
(Ah, let us mourn! – for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him desolate!)
And round about his home the glory
That blushed and bloomed,
Is but a dim-remembered story
Of the old time entombed.

And travellers, now, within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms, that move fantastically
To a discordant melody,
While, like a ghastly rapid river,
Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out forever
And laugh – but smile no more.