Dee Bradley Baker's "All to Know About Going Pro in V.O."

Practice: H.P. Lovecraft Poetry

The Outpost
By H. P. Lovecraft

When evening cools the yellow stream,
And shadows stalk the jungle’s ways,
Zimbabwe’s palace flares ablaze
For a great King who fears to dream.

For he alone of all mankind
Waded the swamp that serpents shun;
And struggling toward the setting sun,
Came on the veldt that lies behind.

No other eyes had vented there

Since eyes were lent for human sight—
But there, as sunset turned to night,
He found the Elder Secret’s lair.

Strange turrets rose beyond the plain,
And walls and bastions spread around
The distant domes that fouled the ground
Like leprous fungi after rain.

A grudging moon writhed up to shine
Past leagues where life can have no home;
And paling far-off tower and dome,
Shewed each unwindowed and malign.

Then he who in his boyhood ran
Through vine-hung ruins free of fear,
Trembled at what he saw—for here
Was no dead, ruined seat of man.

Inhuman shapes, half-seen, half-guessed,
Half solid and half ether-spawned,
Seethed down from starless voids that yawned
In heav’n, to these blank walls of pest.

And voidward from that pest-mad zone
Amorphous hordes seethed darkly back,
Their dim claws laden with the wrack
Of things that men have dreamed and known.

The ancient Fishers from Outside—
Were there not tales the high-priest told,
Of how they found the worlds of old,
And took what pelf their fancy spied?

Their hidden, dread-ringed outposts brood
Upon a million worlds of space;
Abhorred by every living race,
Yet scatheless in their solitude.

Sweating with fright, the watcher crept
Back to the swamp that serpents shun,
So that he lay, by rise of sun,
Safe in the palace where he slept.

None saw him leave, or come at dawn,
Nor does his flesh bear any mark
Of what he met in that curst dark—
Yet from his sleep all peace has gone.

When evening cools the yellow stream,
And shadows stalk the jungle’s ways,
Zimbabwe’s palace flares ablaze,
For a great King who fears to dream.

The City
By H. P. Lovecraft

It was golden and splendid,
That City of light;
A vision suspended
In deeps of the night;
A region of wonder and glory, whose temples were marble and white.

I remember the season
It dawn’d on my gaze;
The mad time of unreason,
The brain-numbing days
When Winter, white-sheeted and ghastly, stalks onward to torture and craze.

More lovely than Zion
It shone in the sky,
When the beams of Orion
Beclouded my eye,
Bringing sleep that was fill’d with dim mem’ries of moments obscure and gone by.

Its mansions were stately
With carvings made fair,
Each rising sedately
On terraces rare,
And the gardens were fragrant and bright with strange miracles blossoming there.

The avenues lur’d me
With vistas sublime;
Tall arches assur’d me
That once on a time
I had wander’d in rapture beneath them, and bask’d in the Halcyon clime.

On the plazas were standing
A sculptur’d array;
Long-bearded, commanding,
Grave men in their day—
But one stood dismantled and broken, its bearded face batter’d away.

In that city effulgent
No mortal I saw;
But my fancy, indulgent
To memory’s law,
Linger’d long on the forms in the plazas, and eyed their stone features with awe.

I fann’d the faint ember
That glow’d in my mind,
And strove to remember
The aeons behind;
To rove thro’ infinity freely, and visit the past unconfin’d.

Then the horrible warning
Upon my soul sped
Like the ominous morning
That rises in red,
And in panic I flew from the knowledge of terrors forgotten and dead.

The Nightmare Lake
By H. P. Lovecraft

There is a lake in distant Zan,
Beyond the wonted haunts of man,
Where broods alone in a hideous state
A spirit dead and desolate;
A spirit ancient and unholy,
Heavy with fearsome melancholy,
Which from the waters dull and dense
Draws vapors cursed with pestilence.
Around the banks, a mire of clay,
Sprawl things offensive in decay,
And curious birds that reach that shore
Are seen by mortals nevermore.
Here shines by day the searing sun
On glassy wastes beheld by none,
And here by night pale moonbeams flow
Into the deeps that yawn below.
In nightmares only is it told
What scenes beneath those beams unfold;
What scenes, too old for human sight,
Lie sunken there in endless night;
For in those depths there only pace
The shadows of a voiceless race.
One midnight, redolent of ill,
I saw that lake, asleep and still;
While in the lurid sky there rode
A gibbous moon that glow’d and glow’d.
I saw the stretching marshy shore,
And the foul things those marshes bore:
Lizards and snakes convuls’d and dying;
Ravens and vampires putrefying;
All these, and hov’ring o’er the dead,
Narcophagi that on them fed.
And as the dreadful moon climb’d high,
Fright’ning the stars from out the sky,
I saw the lake’s dull water glow
Till sunken things appear’d below.
There shone unnumber’d fathoms down,
The tow’rs of a forgotten town;
The tarnish’d domes and mossy walls;
Weed-tangled spires and empty halls;
Deserted fanes and vaults of dread,
And streets of gold uncoveted.
These I beheld, and saw beside
A horde of shapeless shadows glide;
A noxious horde which to my glance
Seem’d moving in a hideous dance
Round slimy sepulchres that lay
Beside a never-travell’d way.
Straight from those tombs a heaving rose
That vex’d the waters’ dull repose,
While lethal shades of upper space
Howl’d at the moon’s sardonic face.
Then sank the lake within its bed,
Suck’d down to caverns of the dead,
Till from the reeking, new-stript earth
Curl’d foetid fumes of noisome birth.
About the city, nigh uncover’d,
The monstrous dancing shadows hover’d,
When lo! there oped with sudden stir
The portal of each sepulchre!
No ear may learn, no tongue may tell
What nameless horror then befell.
I see that lake—that moon agrin—
That city and the things within—
Waking, I pray that on that shore
The nightmare lake may sink no more!

© Dee Bradley Baker 2023

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