A Note on Howard P. Lovecraft’s Verse
by Rheinhart Kleiner
Comment occasioned by the verse of Mr. Howard P. Lovecraft, who is a more or less frequent contributor to the amateur press, has not consisted of unmixed praise.
Certain critics have regarded his efforts as too obviously imitative of a style that has long been discredited. Others have accepted his work with admiration and have even gone so far as to imitate the couplets which he produces with such apparent ease.
Between these two opinions there is a critical neutral ground, the holders of which realise how large an element of conscious parody enters into many of Mr. Lovecraft’s longer and more serious productions, and who are capable of appreciating the cleverness and literary charm of these pastoral echoes without being dominated by them to the extent of indiscriminate praise and second-hand imitation.
Those who would beguile Mr. Lovecraft from his chosen path are probably unaware of the attitude which he consistently maintains toward hostile criticism. Mr. Lovecraft contends that it gives him pleasure to write as the Augustans did, and that those who do not relish his excursions into classic fields need not follow him. He tries to conciliate no one, and is content to be his sole reader! What critic, with these facts before him, will think it worthwhile to break a lance with the poet?
But even Mr. Lovecraft is willing to be original at times. He has written verse of a distinctly modern atmosphere, and where his imagery is not too obtrusively artificial – according to the modern idea – many of his quatrains possess genuine poetic value.
Many who cannot read his longer and more ambitious productions find Mr. Lovecraft’s light or humorous verse decidedly refreshing. As a satirist along familiar lines, particularly those laid down by Butler, Swift and Pope, he is most himself – paradoxical though it seems. In reading his satires one cannot help but feel the zest with which the author has composed them. They are admirable for the way in which they reveal the depth and intensity of Mr. Lovecraft’s convictions, while the wit, irony, sarcasm and humour to be found in them serve as an indication of his powers as a controversialist. The almost relentless ferocity of his satires is constantly relieved by an attendant broad humour which has the merit of causing the readers to chuckle more than once in the perusal of some attack leveled against the particular person or policy which may have incurred Mr Lovecraft’s displeasure.
The above article is reprinted from The United Amateur, official organ of The United Amateur Press Association, March, 1919, edited by W. Paul Cook
Martin M. Horvat
Stayton, Oregon 97383