Writings in the United Amateur, 1915-1922
by Howard Phillips Lovecraft
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"Americanism" is expanded Anglo-Saxonism. It is the spirit of England, transplanted to a soil of vast extent and diversity, and nourished for a time under pioneer conditions calculated to increase its democratic aspects without impairing its fundamental virtues. It is the spirit of truth, honour, justice, morality, moderation, individualism, conservative liberty, magnanimity, toleration, enterprise, industriousness, and progress—which is England—plus the element of equality and opportunity caused by pioneer settlement. It is the expression of the world's highest race under the most favourable social, political, and geographical conditions. Those who endeavour to belittle the importance of our British ancestry, are invited to consider the other nations of this continent. All these are equally "American" in every particular, differing only in race-stock and heritage; yet of them all, none save British Canada will even bear comparison with us. We are great because we are a part of the great Anglo-Saxon cultural sphere; a section detached only after a century and a half of heavy colonisation and English rule, which gave to our land the ineradicable stamp of British civilisation.

Most dangerous and fallacious of the several misconceptions of Americanism is that of the so-called "melting-pot" of races and traditions. It is true that this country has received a vast influx of non-English immigrants who come hither to enjoy without hardship the liberties which our British ancestors carved out in toil and bloodshed. It is also true that such of them as belong to the Teutonic and Celtic races are capable of assimilation to our English type and of becoming valuable acquisitions to the population. But, from this it does not follow that a mixture of really alien blood or ideas has accomplished or can accomplish anything but harm. Observation of Europe shows us the relative status and capability of the several races, and we see that the melting together of English gold and alien brass is not very likely to produce any alloy superior or even equal to the original gold. Immigration cannot, perhaps, be cut off altogether, but it should be understood that aliens who choose America as their residence must accept the prevailing language and culture as their own; and neither try to modify our institutions, nor to keep alive their own in our midst. We must not, as the greatest man of our age declared, suffer this nation to become a "polyglot boarding house."

The greatest foe to rational Americanism is that dislike for our parent nation which holds sway amongst the ignorant and bigoted, and which is kept alive largely by certain elements of the population who seem to consider the sentiments of Southern and Western Ireland more important than those of the United States. In spite of the plain fact that a separate Ireland would weaken civilisation and menace the world's peace by introducing a hostile and undependable wedge betwixt the two major parts of Saxondom, these irresponsible elements continue to encourage rebellion in the Green Isle; and in so doing tend to place this nation in a distressingly anomalous position as an abettor of crime and sedition against the Mother Land. Disgusting beyond words are the public honours paid to political criminals like Edward, alias Eamonn, de Valera, whose very presence at large among us is an affront to our dignity and heritage. Never may we appreciate or even fully comprehend our own place and mission in the world, till we can banish those clouds of misunderstanding which float between us and the source of our culture.

But the features of Americanism peculiar to this continent must not be belittled. In the abolition of fixed and rigid class lines a distinct sociological advance is made, permitting a steady and progressive recruiting of the upper levels from the fresh and vigorous body of the people beneath. Thus opportunities of the choicest sort await every citizen alike, whilst the biological quality of the cultivated classes is improved by the cessation of that narrow inbreeding which characterises European aristocracy.

Total separation of civil and religious affairs, the greatest political and intellectual advance since the Renaissance, is also a local American—and more particularly a Rhode Island—triumph. Agencies are today subtly at work to undermine this principle, and to impose upon us through devious political influences the Papal chains which Henry VIII first struck from our limbs; chains unfelt since the bloody reign of Mary, and infinitely worse than the ecclesiastical machinery which Roger Williams rejected. But when the vital relation of intellectual freedom to genuine Americanism shall be fully impressed upon the people, it is likely that such sinister undercurrents will subside.

The main struggle which awaits Americanism is not with reaction, but with radicalism. Our age is one of restless and unintelligent iconoclasm, and abounds with shrewd sophists who use the name "Americanism" to cover attacks on that institution itself. Such familiar terms and phrases as "democracy," "liberty," or "freedom of speech" are being distorted to cover the wildest forms of anarchy, whilst our old representative institutions are being attacked as "un-American" by foreign immigrants who are incapable both of understanding them or of devising anything better.

This country would benefit from a wider practice of sound Americanism, with its accompanying recognition of an Anglo-Saxon source. Americanism implies freedom, progress, and independence; but it does not imply a rejection of the past, nor a renunciation of traditions and experience. Let us view the term in its real, practical, and unsentimental meaning.


The White Ship

Howard Phillips Lovecraft

I am Basil Elton, keeper of the North Point light that my father and grandfather kept before me. Far from the shore stands the grey lighthouse, above sunken slimy rocks that are seen when the tide is low, but unseen when the tide is high. Past that beacon for a century have swept the majestic barques of the seven seas. In the days of my grandfather there were many; in the days of my father not so many; and now there are so few that I sometimes feel strangely alone, as though I were the last man on our planet.

From far shores came those white-sailed argosies of old; from far Eastern shores where warm suns shine and sweet odours linger about strange gardens and gay temples. The old captains of the sea came often to my grandfather and told him of these things, which in turn he told to my father, and my father told to me in the long autumn evenings when the wind howled eerily from the East. And I have read more of these things, and of many things besides, in the books men gave me when I was young and filled with wonder.

But more wonderful than the lore of old men and the lore of books is the secret lore of ocean. Blue, green, grey, white or black; smooth, ruffled, or mountainous; that ocean is not silent. All my days have I watched it and listened to it, and I know it well. At first it told to me only the plain little tales of calm beaches and near ports, but with the years it grew more friendly and spoke of other things; of things more strange and more distant in space and in time. Sometimes at twilight the grey vapours of the horizon have parted to grant me glimpses of the ways beyond; and sometimes at night the deep waters of the sea have grown clear and phosphorescent, to grant me glimpses of the ways beneath. And these glimpses have been as often of the ways that were and the ways that might be, as of the ways that are; for ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time.

Out of the South it was that the White Ship used to come when the moon was full and high in the heavens. Out of the South it would glide very smoothly and silently over the sea. And whether the sea was rough or calm, and whether the wind was friendly or adverse, it would always glide smoothly and silently, its sails distent and its long strange tiers of oars moving rhythmically. One night I espied upon the deck a man, bearded and robed, and he seemed to beckon me to embark for fair unknown shores. Many times afterward I saw him under the full moon, and ever did he beckon me.

Very brightly did the moon shine on the night I answered the call, and I walked out over the waters to the White Ship on a bridge of moonbeams. The man who had beckoned now spoke a welcome to me in a soft language I seemed to know well, and the hours were filled with soft songs of the oarsmen as we glided away into a mysterious South, golden with the glow of that full, mellow moon.

And when the day dawned, rosy and effulgent, I beheld the green shore of far lands, bright and beautiful, and to me unknown. Up from the sea rose lordly terraces of verdure, tree-studded, and shewing here and there the gleaming white roofs and colonnades of strange temples. As we drew nearer the green shore the bearded man told me of that land, the Land of Zar, where dwell all the dreams and thoughts of beauty that come to men once and then are forgotten. And when I looked upon the terraces again I saw that what he said was true, for among the sights before me were many things I had once seen through the mists beyond the horizon in the phosphorescent depths of ocean. There too were forms and fantasies more splendid than I had ever known; the visions of young poets who died in want before the world could learn of what they had seen and dreamed. But we did not set foot upon the sloping meadows of Zar, for it is told that he who treads them may nevermore return to his native shore.

As the White Ship sailed silently away from the templed terraces of Zar, we beheld on the distant horizon ahead the spires of a mighty city; and the bearded man said to me, "This is Thalarion, the City of a Thousand Wonders, wherein reside all those mysteries that man has striven in vain to fathom." And I looked again, at closer range, and saw that the city was greater than any city I had known or dreamed of before. Into the sky the spires of its temples reached, so that no man might behold their peaks; and far back beyond the horizon stretched the grim, grey walls, over which one might spy only a few roofs, weird and ominous, yet adorned with rich friezes and alluring sculptures. I yearned mightily to enter this fascinating yet repellent city, and beseeched the bearded man to land me at the stone pier by the huge carven gate Akariel; but he gently denied my wish, saying, "Into Thalarion, the City of a Thousand Wonders, many have passed but none returned. Therein walk only daemons and mad things that are no longer men, and the streets are white with the unburied bones of those who have looked upon the eidolon Lathi, that reigns over the city." So the White Ship sailed on past the walls of Thalarion, and followed for many days a southward-flying bird, whose glossy plumage matched the sky out of which it had appeared.

Then came we to a pleasant coast gay with blossoms of every hue, where as far inland as we could see basked lovely groves and radiant arbours beneath a meridian sun. From bowers beyond our view came bursts of song and snatches of lyric harmony, interspersed with faint laughter so delicious that I urged the rowers onward in my eagerness to reach the scene. And the bearded man spoke no word, but watched me as we approached the lily-lined shore. Suddenly a wind blowing from over the flowery meadows and leafy woods brought a scent at which I trembled. The wind grew stronger, and the air was filled with the lethal, charnel odour of plague-stricken towns and uncovered cemeteries. And as we sailed madly away from that damnable coast the bearded man spoke at last, saying, "This is Xura, the Land of Pleasures Unattained."

So once more the White Ship followed the bird of heaven, over warm blessed seas fanned by caressing, aromatic breezes. Day after day and night after night did we sail, and when the moon was full we would listen to soft songs of the oarsmen, sweet as on that distant night when we sailed away from my far native land. And it was by moonlight that we anchored at last in the harbour of Sona-Nyl, which is guarded by twin headlands of crystal that rise from the sea and meet in a resplendent arch. This is the Land of Fancy, and we walked to the verdant shore upon a golden bridge of moonbeams.

In the Land of Sona-Nyl there is neither time nor space, neither suffering nor death; and there I dwelt for many aeons. Green are the groves and pastures, bright and fragrant the flowers, blue and musical the streams, clear and cool the fountains, and stately and gorgeous the temples, castles, and cities of Sona-Nyl. Of that land there is no bound, for beyond each vista of beauty rises another more beautiful. Over the countryside and amidst the splendour of cities can move at will the happy folk, of whom all are gifted with unmarred grace and unalloyed happiness. For the aeons that I dwelt there I wandered blissfully through gardens where quaint pagodas peep from pleasing clumps of bushes, and where the white walks are bordered with delicate blossoms. I climbed gentle hills from whose summits I could see entrancing panoramas of loveliness, with steepled towns nestling in verdant valleys, and with the golden domes of gigantic cities glittering on the infinitely distant horizon. And I viewed by moonlight the sparkling sea, the crystal headlands, and the placid harbour wherein lay anchored the White Ship.

It was against the full moon one night in the immemorial year of Tharp that I saw outlined the beckoning form of the celestial bird, and felt the first stirrings of unrest. Then I spoke with the bearded man, and told him of my new yearning to depart for remote Cathuria, which no man hath seen, but which all believe to lie beyond the basalt pillars of the West. It is the Land of Hope, and in it shine the perfect ideals of all that we know elsewhere; or at least so men relate. But the bearded man said to me, "Beware of those perilous seas wherein men say Cathuria lies. In Sona-Nyl there is no pain nor death, but who can tell what lies beyond the basalt pillars of the West?" Natheless at the next full moon I boarded the White Ship, and with the reluctant bearded man left the happy harbour for untravelled seas.

And the bird of heaven flew before, and led us toward the basalt pillars of the West, but this time the oarsmen sang no soft songs under the full moon. In my mind I would often picture the unknown Land of Cathuria with its splendid groves and palaces, and would wonder what new delights there awaited me. "Cathuria," I would say to myself, "is the abode of gods and the land of unnumbered cities of gold. Its forests are of aloe and sandalwood, even as the fragrant groves of Camorin, and among the trees flutter gay birds sweet with song. On the green and flowery mountains of Cathuria stand temples of pink marble, rich with carven and painted glories, and having in their courtyards cool fountains of silver, where purl with ravishing music the scented waters that come from the grotto-born river Narg. And the cities of Cathuria are cinctured with golden walls, and their pavements are also of gold. In the gardens of these cities are strange orchids, and perfumed lakes whose beds are of coral and amber. At night the streets and the gardens are lit with gay lanthorns fashioned from three-coloured shell of the tortoise, and here resound the soft notes of the singer and the lutanist. And the houses of the cities of Cathuria are all palaces, each built over a fragrant canal bearing the waters of the sacred Narg. Of marble and porphyry are the houses, and roofed with glittering gold that reflects the rays of the sun and enhances the splendour of the cities as blissful gods view them from the distant peaks. Fairest of all is the palace of the great monarch Dorieb, whom some say to be a demigod and others a god. High is the palace of Dorieb, and many are the turrets of marble upon its walls. In its wide halls may multitudes assemble, and here hang the trophies of the ages. And the roof is of pure gold, set upon tall pillars of ruby and azure, and having such carven figures of gods and heroes that he who looks up to those heights seem to gaze upon the living Olympus. And the floor of the palace is of glass, under which flow the cunningly lighted waters of the Narg, gay with gaudy fish not known beyond the bounds of lovely Cathuria."

Thus would I speak to myself of Cathuria, but ever would the bearded man warn me to turn back to the happy shores of Sona-Nyl; for Sona-Nyl is known of men, while none hath ever beheld Cathuria.

And on the thirty-first day that we followed the bird, we beheld the basalt pillars of the West. Shrouded in mist they were, so that no man might peer beyond them or see their summits—which indeed some say reach even to the heavens. And the bearded man again implored me to turn back, but I heeded him not; for from the mists beyond the basalt pillars I fancied there came the notes of singer and lutanist; sweeter than the sweetest songs of Sona-Nyl, and sounding mine own praises; the praises of me, who had voyaged far under the full moon and dwelt in the Land of Fancy.

So to the sound of melody the White Ship sailed into the mist betwixt the basalt pillars of the West. And when the music ceased and the mist lifted, we beheld not the Land of Cathuria, but a swift-rushing resistless sea, over which our helpless barque was borne toward some unknown goal. Soon to our ears came the distant thunder of falling waters, and to our eyes appeared on the far horizon ahead the titanic spray of a monstrous cataract, wherein the oceans of the world drop down to abysmal nothingness. Then did the bearded man say to me with tears on his cheek, "We have rejected the beautiful Land of Sona-Nyl, which we may never behold again. The gods are greater than men, and they have conquered." And I closed my eyes before the crash that I knew would come, shutting out the sight of the celestial bird which flapped its mocking blue wings over the brink of the torrent.

Out of that crash came darkness, and I heard the shrieking of men and of things which were not men. From the East tempestuous winds arose, and chilled me as I crouched on the slab of damp stone which had risen beneath my feet. Then as I heard another crash I opened my eyes and beheld myself upon the platform of that lighthouse from whence I had sailed so many aeons ago. In the darkness below there loomed the vast blurred outlines of a vessel breaking up on the cruel rocks, and as I glanced out over the waste I saw that the light had failed for the first time since my grandfather had assumed its care.

And in the later watches of the night, when I went within the tower, I saw on the wall a calendar which still remained as when I had left it at the hour I sailed away. With the dawn I descended the tower and looked for wreckage upon the rocks, but what I found was only this: a strange dead bird whose hue was as of the azure sky, and a single shattered spar, of a whiteness greater than that of the wave-tips or of the mountain snow.

And thereafter the ocean told me its secrets no more; and though many times since has the moon shone full and high in the heavens, the White Ship from the South came never again.


(With humblest apologies to Randolph St. John, Gent.)

L. Theobald, Jun.

Before our sight your mobile face Depicts your joys or woes distracting; We marvel at your winsome grace— And wish you'd learn the art of acting!

Your eyes, we vow, surpass the stars; Your mouth is like the bow of Cupid; Your rose-ting'd cheeks no wrinkle mars— Yet why are you so sweetly stupid?

The hero views you with delight, To win your hand forever working; We pity him—the witless wight— To fall a victim to your smirking!

And yet, why should we wail in rhyme Because so crudely you dissemble? We can't expect for one small dime, To see a Woffington or Kemble!


Literary Composition

H. P. Lovecraft

In a former article our readers have been shewn the fundamental sources of literary inspiration, and the leading prerequisites to expression. It remains to furnish hints concerning expression itself; its forms, customs, and technicalities, in order that the young writer may lose nothing of force or charm in presenting his ideas to the public.


A review of the elements of English grammar would be foreign to the purpose of this department. The subject is one taught in all common schools, and may be presumed to be understood by every aspirant to authorship. It is necessary, however, to caution the beginner to keep a reliable grammar and dictionary always beside him, that he may avoid in his compositions the frequent errors which imperceptibly corrupt even the purest ordinary speech. As a general rule, it is well to give close critical scrutiny to all colloquial phrases and expressions of doubtful parsing, as well as to all words and usages which have a strained or unfamiliar sound. The human memory is not to be trusted too far, and most minds harbour a considerable number of slight linguistic faults and inelegancies picked up from random discourse or from the pages of newspapers, magazines, and popular modern books.

Types of Mistakes

Most of the mistakes of young authors, aside from those gross violations of syntax which ordinary education corrects, may perhaps be enumerated as follows.

(1) Erroneous plurals of nouns, as vallies or echos.

(2) Barbarous compound nouns, as viewpoint or upkeep.

(3) Want of correspondence in number between noun and verb where the two are widely separated or the construction involved.

(4) Ambiguous use of pronouns.

(5) Erroneous case of pronouns, as whom for who, and vice versa, or phrases like "between you and I," or "Let we who are loyal, act promptly."

(6) Erroneous use of shall and will, and of other auxiliary verbs.

(7) Use of intransitive for transitive verbs, as "he was graduated from college," or vice versa, as "he ingratiated with the tyrant."

(8) Use of nouns for verbs, as "he motored to Boston," or "he voiced a protest."

(9) Errors in moods and tenses of verbs, as "If I was he, I should do otherwise," or "He said the earth was round."

(10) The split infinitive, as "to calmly glide."

(11) The erroneous perfect infinitive, as "Last week I expected to have met you."

(12) False verb-forms, as "I pled with him."

(13) Use of like for as, as "I strive to write like Pope wrote."

(14) Misuse of prepositions, as "The gift was bestowed to an unworthy object," or "The gold was divided between the five men."

(15) The superfluous conjunction, as "I wish for you to do this."

(16) Use of words in wrong senses, as "The book greatly intrigued me," "Leave me take this," "He was obsessed with the idea," or "He is a meticulous writer."

(17) Erroneous use of non-Anglicised foreign forms, as "a strange phenomena," or "two stratas of clouds."

(18) Use of false or unauthorized words, as burglarize or supremest.

(19) Errors of taste, including vulgarisms, pompousness, repetition, vagueness, ambiguousness, colloquialism, bathos, bombast, pleonasm, tautology, harshness, mixed metaphor, and every sort of rhetorical awkwardness.

(20) Errors of spelling and punctuation, and confusion of forms such as that which leads many to place an apostrophe in the possessive pronoun its.

Of all blunders, there is hardly one which might not be avoided through diligent study of simple textbooks on grammar and rhetoric, intelligent perusal of the best authors, and care and forethought in composition. Almost no excuse exists for their persistent occurrence, since the sources of correction are so numerous and so available. Many of the popular manuals of good English are extremely useful, especially to persons whose reading is not as yet extensive; but such works sometimes err in being too pedantically precise and formal. For correct writing, the cultivation of patience and mental accuracy is essential. Throughout the young author's period of apprenticeship, he must keep reliable dictionaries and textbooks at his elbow; eschewing as far as possible that hasty extemporaneous manner of writing which is the privilege of more advanced students. He must take no popular usage for granted, nor must he ever hesitate, in case of doubt, to fall back on the authority of his books.


No aspiring author should content himself with a mere acquisition of technical rules. As Mrs. Renshaw remarked in the preceding article, "Impression should ever precede and be stronger than expression." All attempts at gaining literary polish must begin with judicious reading, and the learner must never cease to hold this phase uppermost. In many cases, the usage of good authors will be found a more effective guide than any amount of precept. A page of Addison or of Irving will teach more of style than a whole manual of rules, whilst a story of Poe's will impress upon the mind a more vivid notion of powerful and correct description and narration than will ten dry chapters of a bulky textbook. Let every student read unceasingly the best writers, guided by the admirable Reading Table which has adorned the UNITED AMATEUR during the past two years.

It is also important that cheaper types of reading, if hitherto followed, be dropped. Popular magazines inculcate a careless and deplorable style which is hard to unlearn, and which impedes the acquisition of a purer style. If such things must be read, let them be skimmed over as lightly as possible. An excellent habit to cultivate is the analytical study of the King James Bible. For simple yet rich and forceful English, this masterly production is hard to equal; and even though its Saxon vocabulary and poetic rhythm be unsuited to general composition, it is an invaluable model for writers on quaint or imaginative themes. Lord Dunsany, perhaps the greatest living prose artist, derived nearly all of his stylistic tendencies from the Scriptures; and the contemporary critic Boyd points out very acutely the loss sustained by most Catholic Irish writers through their unfamiliarity with the historic volume and its traditions.


One superlatively important effect of wide reading is the enlargement of vocabulary which always accompanies it. The average student is gravely impeded by the narrow range of words from which he must choose, and he soon discovers that in long compositions he cannot avoid monotony. In reading, the novice should note the varied mode of expression practiced by good authors, and should keep in his mind for future use the many appropriate synonymes he encounters. Never should an unfamiliar word be passed over without elucidation; for with a little conscientious research we may each day add to our conquests in the realm of philology, and become more and more ready for graceful independent expression.

But in enlarging the vocabulary, we must beware lest we misuse our new possessions. We must remember that there are fine distinctions betwixt apparently similar words, and that language must ever be selected with intelligent care. As the learned Dr. Blair points out in his Lectures, "Hardly in any language are there two words that convey precisely the same idea; a person thoroughly conversant in the propriety of language will always be able to observe something that distinguishes them."

Elemental Phases

Before considering the various formal classes of composition, it is well to note certain elements common to them all. Upon analysis, every piece of writing will be found to contain one or more of the following basic principles: Description, or an account of the appearance of things; Narration, or an account of the actions of things; Exposition, which defines and explains with precision and lucidity; Argument, which discovers truth and rejects error; and Persuasion, which urges to certain thoughts or acts. The first two are the bases of fiction; the third didactic, scientific, historical and editorial writings. The fourth and fifth are mostly employed in conjunction with the third, in scientific, philosophical, and partisan literature. All these principles, however, are usually mingled with one another. The work of fiction may have its scientific, historical, or argumentative side; whilst the textbook or treatise may be embellished with descriptions and anecdotes.


Description, in order to be effective, calls upon two mental qualities; observation and discrimination. Many descriptions depend for their vividness upon the accurate reproduction of details; others upon the judicious selection of salient, typical, or significant points.

One cannot be too careful in the selection of adjectives for descriptions. Words or compounds which describe precisely, and which convey exactly the right suggestions to the mind of the reader, are essential. As an example, let us consider the following list of epithets applicable to a fountain, taken from Richard Green Parker's admirable work on composition.

Crystal, gushing, rustling, silver, gently-gliding, parting, pearly, weeping, bubbling, gurgling, chiding, clear, grass-fringed, moss-fringed, pebble-paved, verdant, sacred, grass-margined, moss-margined, trickling, soft, dew-sprinkled, fast-flowing, delicate, delicious, clean, straggling, dancing, vaulting, deep-embosomed, leaping, murmuring, muttering, whispering, prattling, twaddling, swelling, sweet-rolling, gently-flowing, rising, sparkling, flowing, frothy, dew-distilling, dew-born, exhaustless, inexhaustible, never-decreasing, never-failing, heaven-born, earth-born, deep-divulging, drought-dispelling, thirst-allaying, refreshing, soul-refreshing, earth-refreshing, laving, lavish, plant-nourishing.

For the purpose of securing epithets at once accurate and felicitous, the young author should familiarize himself thoroughly with the general aspect and phenomena of Nature, as well as with the ideas and associations which these things produce in the human mind.

Descriptions may be of objects, of places, of animals, and of persons. The complete description of an object may be said to consist of the following elements:

1. When, where, and how seen; when made or found; how affected by time.

2. History and traditional associations.

3. Substance and manner of origin.

4. Size, shape, and appearance.

5. Analogies with similar objects.

6. Sensations produced by contemplating it.

7. Its purpose or function.

8. Its effects—the results of its existence.

Descriptions of places must of course vary with the type of the place. Of natural scenery, the following elements are notable:

1. How beheld—at dawn, noon, evening, or night; by starlight or moonlight.

2. Natural features—flat or hilly; barren or thickly grown; kind of vegetation; trees, mountains, and rivers.

3. Works of man—cultivation, edifices, bridges; modifications of scenery produced by man.

4. Inhabitants and other forms of animal life.

5. Local customs and traditions.

6. Sounds—of water; forest; leaves; birds; barnyards; human beings; machinery.

7. View—prospect on every side, and the place itself as seen from afar.

8. Analogies to other scenes, especially famous scenes.

9. History and associations.

10. Sensations produced by contemplating it.

Descriptions of animals may be analyzed thus:

1. Species and size.

2. Covering.

3. Parts.

4. Abode.

5. Characteristics and habits.

6. Food.

7. Utility or harmfulness.

8. History and associations.

Descriptions of persons can be infinitely varied. Sometimes a single felicitous touch brings out the whole type and character, as when the modern author Leonard Merrick hints at shabby gentility by mentioning the combination of a frock coat with the trousers of a tweed suit. Suggestion is very powerful in this field, especially when mental qualities are to be delineated. Treatment should vary with the author's object; whether to portray a mere personified idea, or to give a quasi photographic view, mental and physical, of some vividly living character. In a general description, the following elements may be found:

1. Appearance, stature, complexion, proportions, features.

2. Most conspicuous feature.

3. Expression.

4. Grace or ugliness.

5. Attire—nature, taste, quality.

6. Habits, attainments, graces, or awkwardnesses.

7. Character—moral and intellectual—place in the community.

8. Notable special qualities.

In considering the preceding synopses, the reader must remember that they are only suggestions, and not for literal use. The extent of any description is to be determined by its place in the composition; by taste and fitness. It should be added, that in fiction description must not be carried to excess. A plethora of it leads to dulness, so that it must ever be balanced by a brisk flow of Narration, which we are about to consider.


Narration is an account of action, or of successive events, either real or imagined; and is therefore the basis both of history and of fiction. To be felicitous and successful, it demands an intelligent exercise of taste and discrimination; salient points must be selected, and the order of time and of circumstances must be well maintained. It is deemed wisest in most cases to give narratives a climactic form; leading from lesser to greater events, and culminating in that chief incident upon which the story is primarily founded, or which makes the other parts important through its own importance. This principle, of course, cannot be literally followed in all historical and biographical narratives.

Fictional Narration

The essential point of fictional narration is plot, which may be defined as a sequence of incidents designed to awaken the reader's interest and curiosity as to the result. Plots may be simple or complex; but suspense, and climactic progress from one incident to another, are essential. Every incident in a fictional work should have some bearing on the climax or denouement, and any denouement which is not the inevitable result of the preceding incidents is awkward and unliterary. No formal course in fiction-writing can equal a close and observant perusal of the stories of Edgar Allan Poe or Ambrose Bierce. In these masterpieces one may find that unbroken sequence and linkage of incident and result which mark the ideal tale. Observe how, in "The Fall of the House of Usher," each separate event foreshadows and leads up to the tremendous catastrophe and its hideous suggestion. Poe was an absolute master of the mechanics of his craft. Observe also how Bierce can attain the most stirring denouements from a few simple happenings; denouements which develop purely from these preceding circumstances.

In fictional narration, verisimilitude is absolutely essential. A story must be consistent and must contain no event glaringly removed from the usual order of things, unless that event is the main incident, and is approached with the most careful preparation. In real life, odd and erratic things do occasionally happen; but they are out of place in an ordinary story, since fiction is a sort of idealization of the average. Development should be as lifelike as possible, and a weak, trickling conclusion should be assiduously avoided. The end of a story must be stronger rather than weaker than the beginning; since it is the end which contains the denouement or culmination, and which will leave the strongest impression upon the reader. It would not be amiss for the novice to write the last paragraph of his story first, once a synopsis of the plot has been carefully prepared—as it always should be. In this way he will be able to concentrate his freshest mental vigour upon the most important part of his narrative; and if any changes be later found needful, they can easily be made. In no part of a narrative should a grand or emphatic thought or passage be followed by one of tame or prosaic quality. This is anticlimax, and exposes a writer to much ridicule. Notice the absurd effect of the following couplet—which was, however, written by no less a person than Waller:

"Under the tropic is our language spoke, And part of Flanders hath receiv'd our yoke."

Unity, Mass, Coherence

In developing a theme, whether descriptive or narrative, it is necessary that three structural qualities be present: Unity, Mass, and Coherence. Unity is that principle whereby every part of a composition must have some bearing on the central theme. It is the principle which excludes all extraneous matter, and demands that all threads converge toward the climax. Classical violations of Unity may be found in the episodes of Homer and other epic poets of antiquity, as well as in the digressions of Fielding and other celebrated novelists; but no beginner should venture to emulate such liberties. Unity is the quality we have lately noted and praised in Poe and Bierce.

Mass is that principle which requires the more important parts of a composition to occupy correspondingly important places in the whole composition, the paragraph, and the sentence. It is that law of taste which insists that emphasis be placed where emphasis is due, and is most strikingly embodied in the previously mentioned necessity for an emphatic ending. According to this law, the end of a composition is its most important part, with the beginning next in importance.

Coherence is that principle which groups related parts together and keeps unrelated parts removed from one another. It applies, like Mass, to the whole composition, the paragraph, or the sentence. It demands that kindred events be narrated without interruption, effect following cause in a steady flow.

Forms of Composition

Few writers succeed equally in all the various branches of literature. Each type of thought has its own particular form of expression, based on natural appropriateness; and the average author tends to settle into that form which best fits his particular personality. Many, however, follow more than one form; and some writers change from one form to another as advancing years produce alterations in their mental processes or points of view.

It is well, in the interests of breadth and discipline, for the beginner to exercise himself to some degree in every form of literary art. He may thus discover that which best fits his mind, and develop hitherto unsuspected potentialities.

We have so far surveyed only those simpler phases of writing which centre in prose fiction and descriptive essays. Hereafter we hope to touch upon didactic, argumentative, and persuasive writing; to investigate to some extent the sources of rhetorical strength and elegance; and to consider a few major aspects of versification.


For What Does the United Stand?

It is easy to comply in 500 words with a request for an article on what the United represents. An amateur journalistic association is generally too democratic to have any one object for long; it is rather a battle-ground between the proponents of opposed ideas.

I think, however, that since the dawn of the Hoffman administration, when the best elements were automatically sifted out through the secession of most of the confirmed politicians, we have been gradually acquiring a policy and a tradition which will endure. The printing-press, political and frivolous phases have been passed through; and our aspirations seem to be crystallising into a form more worthy than any of our past aspirations.

Judging from the majority of our truly active members, the United now aims at the development of its adherents in the direction of purely artistic literary perception and expression; to be effected by the encouragement of writing, the giving of constructive criticism, and the cultivation of correspondence friendships among scholars and aspirants capable of stimulating and aiding one another's efforts. It aims at the revival of the uncommercial spirit; the real creative thought which modern conditions have done their worst to suppress and eradicate. It seeks to banish mediocrity as a goal and standard; to place before its members the classical and the universal and to draw their minds from the commonplace to the beautiful.

The United aims to assist those whom other forms of literary influence cannot reach. The non-university man, the dwellers in distant places, the recluse, the invalid, the very young, the elderly; all these are included within our scope. And beside our novices stand persons of mature cultivation and experience, ready to assist for the sheer joy of assisting. In no other society does wealth or previous learning count for so little. Merit and aspiration form the only criterion we apply to our members, nor has poverty or primitive crudity ever retarded the steady progress of any determined aspirant among us. We ask only that the goal be high; that the souls of our band be seeking the antique legacy of verdant Helicon.

Practically, we are aware of many obstacles; yet we think we are in the main fulfilling our functions. Naturally, we do not expect to make a Shelley or Swinburne of every rhymer who joins us, or a Poe or Dunsany of every teller of tales; but if we enable these persons to appreciate Shelley and Swinburne and Poe and Dunsany, and teach them how to shed their dominant faults and use words correctly and expressively, we cannot call ourselves unsuccessful and only genius can lead to the heights; it is our province merely to point the way and assist on the gentler, lower slopes.

The United, then, stands for education in the eternal truths of literary art, and for personal aid in the realisation of its members' literary potentialities. It is a university, stripped of every artificiality and conventionality, and thrown open to all without distinction. Here may every man shine according to his genius, and here may the small as well as the great writer know the bliss of appreciation and the glory of recognised achievement.



Official Organ of the United Amateur Press Association


Poetry and the Gods


A damp, gloomy evening in April it was, just after the close of the Great War, when Marcia found herself alone with strange thoughts and wishes; unheard-of yearnings which floated out of the spacious twentieth-century drawing-room, up the misty deeps of the air, and Eastward to far olive-groves in Arcady which she had seen only in her dreams. She had entered the room in abstraction, turned off the glaring chandeliers, and now reclined on a soft divan by a solitary lamp which shed over the reading table a green glow as soothing and delicious as moonlight through the foliage about an antique shrine. Attired simply, in a low-cut evening dress of black, she appeared outwardly a typical product of modern civilisation; but tonight she felt the immeasurable gulf that separated her soul from all her prosaic surroundings. Was it because of the strange home in which she lived; that abode of coldness where relations were always strained and the inmates scarcely more than strangers? Was it that, or was it some greater and less explicable misplacement in Time and Space, whereby she had been born too late, too early, or too far away from the haunts of her spirit ever to harmonise with the unbeautiful things of contemporary reality? To dispel the mood which was engulfing her more deeply each moment, she took a magazine from the table and searched for some healing bit of poetry. Poetry had always relieved her troubled mind better than anything else, though many things in the poetry she had seen detracted from the influence. Over parts of even the sublimest verses hung a chill vapour of sterile ugliness and restraint, like dust on a window-pane through which one views a magnificent sunset.

Listlessly turning the magazine's pages, as if searching for an elusive treasure, she suddenly came upon something which dispelled her languor. An observer could have read her thoughts and told that she had discovered some image or dream which brought her nearer to her unattained goal than any image or dream she had seen before. It was only a bit of vers libre, that pitiful compromise of the poet who overleaps prose yet falls short of the divine melody of numbers; but it had in it all the unstudied music of a bard who lives and feels, and who gropes ecstatically for unveiled beauty. Devoid of regularity, it yet had the wild harmony of winged, spontaneous words; a harmony missing from the formal, convention-bound verse she had known. As she read on, her surroundings gradually faded, and soon there lay about her only the mists of dream; the purple, star-strown mists beyond Time, where only gods and dreamers walk.

"Moon over Japan, White butterfly moon! Where the heavy-lidded Buddhas dream To the sound of the cuckoo's call.... The white wings of moon-butterflies Flicker down the streets of the city, Blushing into darkness the useless wicks of round lanterns in the hands of girls.

"Moon over the tropics, A white-curved bud Opening its petals slowly in the warmth of heaven.... The air is full of odours And languorous warm sounds.... A flute drones its insect music to the night Below the curving moon-petal of the heavens.

"Moon over China, Weary moon on the river of the sky, The stir of light in the willows is like the flashing of a thousand silver minnows Through dark shoals; The tiles on graves and rotting temples flash like ripples, The sky is flecked with clouds like the scales of a dragon."

Amid the mists of dream the reader cried to the rhythmical stars of her delight at the coming of a new age of song, a rebirth of Pan. Half closing her eyes, she repeated words whose melody lay hid like crystals at the bottom of a stream before the dawn; hidden but to gleam effulgently at the birth of day.

"Moon over Japan, White butterfly moon!

"Moon over the tropics, A white-curved bud Opening its petals slowly in the warmth of heaven. The air is full of odours And languorous warm sounds ... languorous warm sounds.

"Moon over China, Weary moon on the river of the sky ... weary moon!"

* * *

Out of the mists gleamed godlike the figure of a youth in winged helmet and sandals, caduceus-bearing, and of a beauty like to nothing on earth. Before the face of the sleeper he thrice waved the rod which Apollo had given him in trade for the nine-corded shell of melody, and upon her brow he placed a wreath of myrtle and roses. Then, adoring, Hermes spoke:

"O Nymph more fair than the golden-haired sisters of Cyane or the sky-inhabiting Atlantides, beloved of Aphrodite and blessed of Pallas, thou hast indeed discovered the secret of the Gods, which lieth in beauty and song. O Prophetess more lovely than the Sybil of Cumae when Apollo first knew her, thou hast truly spoken of the new age, for even now on Maenalus, Pan sighs and stretches in his sleep, wishful to awake and behold about him the little rose-crowned Fauns and the antique Satyrs. In thy yearning hast thou divined what no mortal else, saving only a few whom the world reject, remembereth; that the Gods were never dead, but only sleeping the sleep and dreaming the dreams of Gods in lotos-filled Hesperian gardens beyond the golden sunset. And now draweth nigh the time of their awaking, when coldness and ugliness shall perish, and Zeus sit once more on Olympus. Already the sea about Paphos trembleth into a foam which only ancient skies have looked on before, and at night on Helicon the shepherds hear strange murmurings and half-remembered notes. Woods and fields are tremulous at twilight with the shimmering of white saltant forms, and immemorial Ocean yields up curious sights beneath thin moons. The Gods are patient, and have slept long, but neither man nor giant shall defy the Gods forever. In Tartarus the Titans writhe, and beneath the fiery Aetna groan the children of Uranus and Gaea. The day now dawns when man must answer for his centuries of denial, but in sleeping the Gods have grown kind, and will not hurl him to the gulf made for deniers of Gods. Instead will their vengeance smite the darkness, fallacy and ugliness which have turned the mind of man; and under the sway of bearded Saturnus shall mortals, once more sacrificing unto him, dwell in beauty and delight. This night shalt thou know the favour of the Gods, and behold on Parnassus those dreams which the Gods have through ages sent to Earth to show that they are not dead. For poets are the dreams of the Gods, and in each age someone hath sung unknowing the message and the promise from the lotos-gardens beyond the sunset."

Then in his arms Hermes bore the dreaming maiden through the skies. Gentle breezes from the tower of Aiolos wafted them high above warm, scented seas, till suddenly they came upon Zeus holding court on the double-headed Parnassus; his golden throne flanked by Apollo and the Muses on the right hand, and by ivy-wreathed Dionysus and pleasure-flushed Bacchae on the left hand. So much of splendour Marcia had never seen before, either awake or in dreams, but its radiance did her no injury, as would have the radiance of lofty Olympus; for in this lesser court the Father of Gods had tempered his glories for the sight of mortals. Before the laurel-draped mouth of the Corycian cave sat in a row six noble forms with the aspect of mortals, but the countenances of Gods. These the dreamer recognised from images of them which she had beheld, and she knew that they were none else than the divine Maeonides, the Avernian Dante, the more than mortal Shakespeare, the chaos-exploring Milton, the cosmic Goethe, and the Musaean Keats. These were those messengers whom the Gods had sent to tell men that Pan had passed not away, but only slept; for it is in poetry that Gods speak to men. Then spake the Thunderer:

"O daughter, for, being one of my endless line, thou art indeed my daughter, behold upon ivory thrones of honour the august messengers that Gods have sent down, that in the words and the writings of men there may still be some trace of divine beauty. Other bards have men justly crowned with enduring laurels, but these hath Apollo crowned, and these have I set in places apart, as mortals who have spoken the language of the Gods. Long have we dreamed in lotos-gardens beyond the West, and spoken only through our dreams; but the time approaches when our voices shall not be silent. It is a time of awaking and of change. Once more hath Phaeton ridden low, searing the fields and drying the streams. In Gaul lone nymphs with disordered hair weep beside fountains that are no more, and pine over rivers turned red with the blood of mortals. Ares and his train have gone forth with the madness of Gods, and have returned, Deimos and Phobos glutted with unnatural delight. Tellus moans with grief, and the faces of men are as the faces of the Erinyes, even as when Astraea fled to the skies, and the waves of our bidding encompassed all the land saving this high peak alone. Amidst this chaos, prepared to herald his coming yet to conceal his arrival, even now toileth our latest-born messenger, in whose dreams are all the images which other messengers have dreamed before him. He it is that we have chosen to blend into one glorious whole all the beauty that the world hath known before, and to write words wherein shall echo all the wisdom and the loveliness of the past. He it is who shall proclaim our return, and sing of the days to come when Fauns and Dryads shall haunt their accustomed groves in beauty. Guided was our choice by those who now sit before the Corycian grotto on thrones of ivory, and in whose songs thou shalt hear notes of sublimity by which years hence thou shall know the greater messenger when he cometh. Attend their voices as one by one they sing to thee here. Each note shalt thou hear again in the poetry which is to come; the poetry which shall bring peace and pleasure to thy soul, though search for it through bleak years thou must. Attend with diligence, for each chord that vibrates away into hiding shall appear again to thee after thou hast returned to earth, as Alpheus, sinking his waters into the soil of Hellas, appears as the crystal Arethusa in remote Sicilia."

Then arose Homeros, the ancient among bards, who took his lyre and chaunted his hymn to Aphrodite. No word of Greek did Marcia know, yet did the message fall not vainly upon her ears; for in the cryptic rhythm was that which spake to all mortals and Gods, and needed no interpreter.

So too the songs of Dante and Goethe, whose unknown words clave the ether with melodies easy to read and to adore. But at last remembered accents rebounded before the listener. It was the Swan of Avon, once a God among men, and still a God among Gods:

"Write, write, that from the bloody course of war, My dearest master, your dear son, may hie; Bless him at home in peace, whilst I from far, His name with zealous fervour sanctify."

Accents still more familiar arose as Milton, blind no more, declaimed immortal harmony:

"Or let my lamp at midnight hour Be seen in some high lonely tower, Where I might oft outwatch the Bear With thrice-great Hermes, or unsphere The spirit of Plato, to unfold What worlds or what vast regions hold Th' immortal mind, that hath forsook Her mansion in this fleshy nook. . . . Sometime let gorgeous Tragedy In sceptred pall come sweeping by, Presenting Thebes, or Pelops' line, Or the tale of Troy divine."

Last of all came the young voice of Keats, closest of all the messengers to the beauteous faun-folk.

"Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard Are sweeter: therefore, ye soft pipes, play on.... . . . When old age shall this generation waste, Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st, 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty'—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

As the singer ceased, there came a sound in the wind blowing from far Egypt, where at night Aurora mourns by the Nile for her slain son Memnon. To the feet of the Thunderer flew the rosy-fingered Goddess, and kneeling, cried, "Master, it is time I unlocked the gates of the East." And Phoebus, handing his lyre to Calliope, his bride among the Muses, prepared to depart for the jewelled and column-raised Palace of the Sun, where fretted the steeds already harnessed to the golden car of day. So Zeus descended from his carven throne and placed his hand upon the head of Marcia, saying:

"Daughter, the dawn is nigh, and it is well that thou shouldst return before the awaking of mortals to thy home. Weep not at the bleakness of thy life, for the shadow of false faiths will soon be gone, and the Gods shall once more walk among men. Search thou unceasingly for our messenger, for in him wilt thou find peace and comfort. By his word shall thy steps be guided to happiness, and in his dreams of beauty shall thy spirit find all that it craveth." As Zeus ceased, the young Hermes gently seized the maiden and bore her up toward the fading stars; up, and westward over unseen seas.

* * *

Many years have passed since Marcia dreamt of the Gods and of their Parnassian conclave. Tonight she sits in the same spacious drawing-room, but she is not alone. Gone is the old spirit of unrest, for beside her is one whose name is luminous with celebrity; the young poet of poets at whose feet sits all the world. He is reading from a manuscript words which none has ever heard before, but which when heard will bring to men the dreams and fancies they lost so many centuries ago, when Pan lay down to doze in Arcady, and the greater Gods withdrew to sleep in lotos-gardens beyond the lands of the Hesperides. In the subtle cadences and hidden melodies of the bard the spirit of the maiden has found rest at last, for there echo the divinest notes of Thracian Orpheus; notes that moved the very rocks and trees by Hebrus' banks. The singer ceases, and with eagerness asks a verdict, yet what can Marcia say but that the strain is "fit for the Gods"?

And as she speaks there comes again a vision of Parnassus and the far-off sound of a mighty voice saying, "By his word shall thy steps be guided to happiness, and in his dreams of beauty shall thy spirit find all that it craveth."

* * * * *

Mr. Paul J. Campbell deserves the most unstinted thanks of the United this year, for besides serving as First Vice-President he has furnished free of charge a supply of recruiting booklets and application blanks, thus relieving us of one of our most onerous burdens. Mr. Campbell's eighteen years of undiminished devotion to amateurdom form a thing worthy of emulation.




Nyarlathotep ... the crawling chaos ... I am the last ... I will tell the audient void....

I do not recall distinctly when it began, but it was months ago. The general tension was horrible. To a season of political and social upheaval was added a strange and brooding apprehension of hideous physical danger; a danger widespread and all-embracing, such a danger as may be imagined only in the most terrible phantasms of the night. I recall that the people went about with pale and worried faces, and whispered warnings and prophecies which no one dared consciously repeat or acknowledge to himself that he had heard. A sense of monstrous guilt was upon the land, and out of the abysses between the stars swept chill currents that made men shiver in dark and lonely places. There was a demoniac alteration in the sequence of the seasons—the autumn heat lingered fearsomely, and everyone felt that the world and perhaps the universe had passed from the control of known gods or forces to that of gods or forces which were unknown.

And it was then that Nyarlathotep came out of Egypt. Who he was, none could tell, but he was of the old native blood and looked like a Pharaoh. The fellahin knelt when they saw him, yet could not say why. He said he had risen up out of the blackness of twenty-seven centuries, and that he had heard messages from places not on this planet. Into the lands of civilisation came Nyarlathotep, swarthy, slender, and sinister, always buying strange instruments of glass and metal and combining them into instruments yet stranger. He spoke much of the sciences—of electricity and psychology—and gave exhibitions of power which sent his spectators away speechless, yet which swelled his fame to exceeding magnitude. Men advised one another to see Nyarlathotep, and shuddered. And where Nyarlathotep went, rest vanished; for the small hours were rent with the screams of nightmare. Never before had the screams of nightmare been such a public problem; now the wise men almost wished they could forbid sleep in the small hours, that the shrieks of cities might less horribly disturb the pale, pitying moon as it glimmered on green waters gliding under bridges, and old steeples crumbling against a sickly sky.

I remember when Nyarlathotep came to my city—the great, the old, the terrible city of unnumbered crimes. My friend had told me of him, and of the impelling fascination and allurement of his revelations, and I burned with eagerness to explore his uttermost mysteries. My friend said they were horrible and impressive beyond my most fevered imaginings; that what was thrown on a screen in the darkened room prophesied things none but Nyarlathotep dare prophesy, and that in the sputter of his sparks there was taken from men that which had never been taken before yet which shewed only in the eyes. And I heard it hinted abroad that those who knew Nyarlathotep looked on sights which others saw not.

It was in the hot autumn that I went through the night with the restless crowds to see Nyarlathotep; through the stifling night and up the endless stairs into the choking room. And shadowed on a screen, I saw hooded forms amidst ruins, and yellow evil faces peering from behind fallen monuments. And I saw the world battling against blackness; against the waves of destruction from ultimate space; whirling, churning; struggling around the dimming, cooling sun. Then the sparks played amazingly around the heads of the spectators, and hair stood up on end whilst shadows more grotesque than I can tell came out and squatted on the heads. And when I, who was colder and more scientific than the rest, mumbled a trembling protest about "imposture" and "static electricity," Nyarlathotep drave us all out, down the dizzy stairs into the damp, hot, deserted midnight streets. I screamed aloud that I was not afraid; that I never could be afraid; and others screamed with me for solace. We sware to one another that the city was exactly the same, and still alive; and when the electric lights began to fade we cursed the company over and over again, and laughed at the queer faces we made.

I believe we felt something coming down from the greenish moon, for when we began to depend on its light we drifted into curious involuntary marching formations and seemed to know our destinations though we dared not think of them. Once we looked at the pavement and found the blocks loose and displaced by grass, with scarce a line of rusted metal to show where the tramways had run. And again we saw a tram-car, lone, windowless, dilapidated, and almost on its side. When we gazed around the horizon, we could not find the third tower by the river, and noticed that the silhouette of the second tower was ragged at the top. Then we split up into narrow columns, each of which seemed drawn in a different direction. One disappeared in a narrow alley to the left, leaving only the echo of a shocking moan. Another filed down a weed-choked subway entrance, howling with a laughter that was mad. My own column was sucked toward the open country, and presently felt a chill which was not of the hot autumn: for as we stalked out on the dark moor, we beheld around us the hellish moon-glitter of evil snows. Trackless, inexplicable snows, swept asunder in one direction only, where lay a gulf all the blacker for its glittering walls. The column seemed very thin indeed as it plodded dreamily into the gulf. I lingered behind, for the black rift in the green-litten snow was frightful, and I thought I had heard the reverberations of a disquieting wail as my companions vanished; but my power to linger was slight. As if beckoned by those who had gone before, I half-floated between the titanic snowdrifts, quivering and afraid, into the sightless vortex of the unimaginable.

Screamingly sentient, dumbly delirious, only the gods that were can tell. A sickened, sensitive shadow writhing in hands that are not hands, and whirled blindly past ghastly midnights of rotting creation, corpses of dead worlds with sores that were cities, charnel winds that brush the pallid stars and make them flicker low. Beyond the worlds vague ghosts of monstrous things; half-seen columns of unsanctified temples that rest on nameless rocks beneath space and reach up to dizzy vacua above the spheres of light and darkness. And through this revolving graveyard of the universe the muffled, maddening beating of drums, and thin, monotonous whine of blasphemous flutes from inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond Time; the detestable pounding and piping whereunto dance slowly, awkwardly and absurdly the gigantic, tenebrous ultimate gods—the blind, voiceless, mindless gargoyles whose soul is Nyarlathotep.


Editorial comment upon amateur journalism generally falls within one of two classes; complacent self-congratulation upon a mythical perfection, or hectic urging toward impossible achievements. It is our purpose this month to indulge in neither of these rhetorical recreations, but to make one very prosaic and practical appeal which springs solely from realistic observation.

This appeal concerns the official situation in the United. For several years our foes have reproached us for excessive centralisation of authority: asserting that the control of our society is anything from oligarchical to monarchial, and pointing to the large amount of influence wielded by a very few leaders. Denials on our part, prompted by the conspicuous absence of any dictatorial ambitions in the minds of our executives, have been largely nullified by the fact that while power has not been autocratically usurped and arbitrarily exercised, the burden of administrative work has certainly been thrust by common consent on a small number of reluctant though loyal shoulders. A few persons have been forced to retain authority because no others have arisen to relieve them of their burdens, until official nominations have come to mean no more than a campaign by one or two active spirits to persuade certain patient drudges to "carry on" another year. Nor does the formal official situation reflect all of the prevailing condition. Much of the Association's most important activity, such as recruiting, welcoming and criticism, verges into the field of unorganised effort; and here the tendency to leave everything to a narrow group is overwhelming.

Obviously, this condition demands a remedy; and that remedy lies in one direction only—an acceptance of potential official responsibility by all of those members who possess the time and experience to act as leaders. As the fiscal year progresses, the season for candidacies draws near; and amateurs who feel competent to sustain their share of the administrative burden should come forward as nominees, or at least should respond when approached by their friends. That office-holding involves tedious work, all admit, but this tedium is a small enough price to pay for the varied boons of amateurdom. In unofficial labour an equal willingness should be shown. Why is it that all the private revision in the United is performed by about three men at most, despite the presence in our ranks of a full score of scholars abundantly capable of rendering such service? If the literati as a whole will not awaken to the needs of the day, one of two things will occur. The United will stagnate quietly under the perpetual dictatorship of a limited group of unwilling but benevolent autocrats, or it will succumb to the onslaught of some political clique of vigorous barbarians who will destroy in a month what it has taken the United over ten years to build up. Memories of 1919 should prove to us the reality of such a danger of sudden relapse.

Our appeal, then, is for responsible candidates for high office, and for volunteers in the work of maintaining interest and lending literary aid. We know that executive energy and enthusiasm tend to be more abundant in the Goth than in the Greek; that those best qualified to serve are generally least moved by political ambition. But we are sure that the needs of our society should arouse enough sense of duty among its cultivated membership to draw to the front a new generation of leaders. We ask for new presidential and editorial candidates who are prepared to serve faithfully and independently if elected; for new critics and recruiters who understand our traditions and are willing to expend energy in upholding and diffusing them. Shall 1921 bring them to light?


Official Organ Fund


Woodbee Press Club $25.00 From Treasurer, up to October 15 23.00 Susan Nelson Furgerson 6.00 Jonathan E. Hoag 5.00 Verna McGeoch (for each issue) 5.00 Howard R. Conover 3.00 Victor O. Schwab 3.00 Mr. and Mrs. Fritter (for each issue) 2.00 Rev. Eugene B. Kuntz 1.50 Anne Tillery Renshaw 1.50 Anonymous .25 One dollar each: Margaret Abraham, Agnes R. Arnold, Elizabeth Barnhart, Grace M. Bromley, Mary Faye Durr, Alice M. Hamlet, Hester Harper. Total on hand, November 6, 1920 $82.25


The doubling of printing rates makes large contributions imperative if the Organ is to approach its customary standard. Acknowledgments are due the Woodbee Press Club for its exceedingly generous contribution, and ex-Editor Renshaw for the mailing of an appeal which has proved most effective in the campaign for funds. Emulation of the Woodbees' generosity by other clubs would save a situation which is very threatening.

H. P. LOVECRAFT, Custodian.



Providence, R. I., April 1, 1921.


From Treasurer, up to April 1, 1921 $21.50 Verna McGeoch (3 instalments) 15.00 E. Edward Ericson 10.00 Edward F. Daas 6.00 Howard R. Conover 2.00 Anna H. Crofts 1.00 Ernest L. McKeag 1.00 John Milton Samples 1.00 Anonymous .75 ———- Balance on Hand, November 6, 1920 $82.25 Received, November 6, 1920, to April 1, 1921 58.25 ———- Total Receipts $140.50


To E. E. Ericson, for September U. A. $48.00 To E. E. Ericson, for November U. A. 48.00 To E. E. Ericson, for January U. A. 36.00 ———- Total Expenditures $132.00

Balance on Hand, April 1, 1921 $8.50

H. P. LOVECRAFT, Custodian.


Winifred Virginia Jackson: A "Different" Poetess


In these days of unrestrained license in poetry, it would at first sight seem difficult to single out any one bard as the possessor of ideas and modes of expression so unique and original that the overworked adjective "different" is merited. Every poetaster of the modern school claims to be "different," and bases his claim to celebrity upon this "difference"; an effect usually achieved by the adoption of a harsh, amorphous style, and a tone of analytical, introspective subjectivity so individual that all the common and universal elements of beauty and poetry are excluded. Indeed, eccentricity has come so completely into fashion, that he who follows up the wildest vagaries is actually the least different from the hectic scribbling throng about him.

But notwithstanding this malady of the times, there does remain among us an ample field for genius and artistic distinctiveness. The laws of human thought are unchangeable, and whenever there is born a soul attuned to real harmony, and inspired by that rare sensitiveness which enables it to feel and express the latent beauty and hidden relationships of Nature, the world receives a new poet. Such an one will of necessity break through the decadent customs of the period; and falling back to the forms of true melody, sing a spontaneous song which can not help being original, because it represents the unforced reaction of a keen and delicate mind to the panorama of life. And when this reaction is enabled to bring out in the simplest and most beautiful style fancies and images which the world has not received or noted before, we are justified in claiming that the bard is "different."

Such a bard is Winifred Virginia Jackson, whose poetry has for six years been the pride of the United Amateur Press Association. Born in Maine, and through childhood accustomed to the mystical spell of the ancient New-England countryside, Miss Jackson for a long period quietly and unconsciously absorbed a prodigious store of beauty and phantasy from life. Having no design to become a poet, she accepted these ethereal gifts as a matter of course; until about a decade ago they manifested themselves in a burst of spontaneous melody which can best be described as a sheer overflowing of delightful dreams and pictures from a mind filled to the brim with poetic loveliness. Since that time Miss Jackson has written vast quantities of verse; always rich and musical, and if one may speak in paradox, always artless with supreme art. None of these poems is in any sense premeditated or consciously composed; they are more like visions of the fancy, instantaneously photographed for the perception of others, and unerringly framed in the most appropriate metrical medium.

When we peruse the poetry of Miss Jackson we are impressed first by its amazing variety, and almost as quickly by a certain distinctive quality which gives all the varied specimens a kind of homogeneity. As we analyse our impressions, we find that both of these qualities have a common source—the complete objectivity and almost magical imagination of supreme genius. Objectivity and imagination, the gifts of the epic bards of classical antiquity, are today the rarest of blessings. We live in an age of morbid emotion and introspectiveness; wherein the poets, such as they are, have sunk to the level of mere pathologists engaged in the dissection of their own ultra-sophisticated spirits. The fresh touch of Nature is lost to the majority, and rhymesters rant endlessly and realistically about the relation of man to his fellows and to himself; overlooking the real foundations of art and beauty—wonder, and man's relation to the unknown cosmos. But Miss Jackson is not of the majority, and has not overlooked these things. In her the ancient and unspoiled bard is refulgently reincarnated; and with an amazing universality and freedom from self-consciousness she suppresses the ego completely, delineating Nature's diverse moods and aspects with an impersonal fidelity and delicacy which form the delight of the discriminating reader, and the despair of the stupid critic who works by rule and formula rather than by brain. There is no medium which the spirit of Miss Jackson can not inhabit. The same mind which reflects the daintiest and most gorgeous phantasies of the faery world, or furnishes the most finely wrought pictures or refined pathos and sentiment, can abruptly take up its abode in some remote Maine timber region and pour out such a wild, virile chantey of the woods and the river that we seem to glimpse the singer as the huskiest of a tangle-bearded, fight-scarred, loud-shouting logging crew sprawling about a pine campfire.

A critic has grouped the poetical work of Miss Jackson into six classes: Lyrics of ideal beauty, including delightful Nature-poems replete with local colour; delicate amatory lyrics; rural dialect lyrics and vigorous colloquial pieces; poems of sparkling optimism; child verse; and poems of potent terror and dark suggestion. "With her," he adds, "sordid realism has no place; and her poems glow with a subtle touch of the fanciful and the supernatural which is well sustained by tasteful and unusual word-combinations, images, and onomatopoetic effects." This estimate is confirmed by the latest productions of the poetess, as we shall endeavour to show by certain specimens lately published or about to be published, selected almost at random:

"The Bonnet" is a characteristic bit of Jacksonian delicacy and originality. We here behold a sustained metaphor of that striking type which the author so frequently creates; a metaphor which draws on all Nature and the unseen world for its basis, and whose analogies are just the ones which please us most, yet which our own minds are never finely attuned enough to conceive unaided. The swain in the poem tells of his intention to make a bonnet for his chosen nymph to wear. He will fashion it with "golden thimble, scissors, needle, thread"; taking velvet from the April sky as a groundwork, stars for trimming, moonlight for banding, and a web of dreams for lining. He will scent it with the perfume of "the reddest rose that the singing wind finds sweetest where it farthest blows," and "will take it at the twilight for his love to wear." Here we have nothing of the bizarre or the conspicuous, yet in the six little stanzas of quaintly regular metre there is suggested all of that world of faery beauty which the eye can glimpse beyond the leaden clouds of reality; a world which exists because it can be dreamed of. The poem is "different" in the truest way; it is original because it conveys beauty originally in an inconspicuous and harmonious vehicle.

But turn now to "Ellsworth to Great Pond" and marvel! True, we still find the vivid delineation of human feelings, but what a distance we have travelled! Gone is the young dreamer with his world of moonshine, for here roars the Maine lumberjack with all the uncouth vigour and rude natural expressiveness of the living satyr. It is life; primal, uncovered, and unpolished—the ebullient, shouting vitality of healthy animalism.

"Drink hard cider, swig hard cider, Swill hard cider, Boys! Throw yer spikers, throw yer peavies, Beller out yer noise!"

We have drifted from the aether of Keats to the earth of Fielding, yet under the guidance of the same author. Greater proof of Miss Jackson's absolute objectivity and marvellous imagination could not be produced or asked.

Yet who shall say that the Jackson pendulum is powerful only at the extremes of its sweeping arc? In "Workin' Out" we discover a pastoral love-lyric which for quaintness and graphic humanness could not well be surpassed. Here the distinctive and spontaneous inventiveness of Miss Jackson's fancy is displayed with especial vividness. The rural youth, "workin' out" far from his loved Molly, enumerates the prosaic chores he can perform with easy heart; but mentions in each case some more poetic thing which stirs his emotions and gives him loneliness for the absent fair. He can cut and husk corn, but the golden-rod reminds him of his Molly's golden hair. He can milk cows, but the gentian reminds him of his Molly's blue eyes. Aside from their intrinsic ingeniousness, these images possess an unconscious lesson for the poet who can read it. They expose with concrete illustrations the fallacy of the so-called "new poetry," which disregards the natural division between beautiful and unbeautiful things and rhapsodises as effusively over a sewer-pipe as over the crescent moon.

"The Token" exhibits Miss Jackson in her airiest lyrical mood; a mood original because it possesses the rare lyrism of pure music and fancy rather than the common lyrism of unsubtilised emotion. There is bounding music in thought and medium alike, whilst the naive plunge into the theme without introduction or explanation is a stroke savouring of the simplicity of genius. Equally effective is the simple metrical transition whereby the chorus assumes the trochaic measure of a childhood chant or carol:

"Lightly O, brightly O, Down the long lane she will go! Dancing she, glancing she, Down the lane with eyes aglow!"

In "Assurance" and "It's Lovetime," the author displays a lyrical fervour of more conventional type; adding the touch of originality by means of melodious simplicity and reiteration in the one case, and pure lyric ecstasy in the other.

The metrical originality of Miss Jackson, displayed in all classes of her work, should not be slighted amidst the enthusiasm one entertains for her magical mastery of thoughts and images. No other conservative poet of the period is more versatile and individual in choice of numbers, or in adaptation of measure to mood. "Driftwood," a wonderfully original poem of imagination describing the fancies which arise from the smoke of logs wafted from far mysterious lands where once the trees grew under strange suns, moons, and rainbows, is as remarkable in form as in idea. One may judge by a sample pair of stanzas:

"You warm your hands And smile Before the fire of driftwood.

"I feel old lands' Wan guile That writhes in fire of driftwood."

We have so far viewed poetry which would lead us to classify Miss Jackson as a delineator of moods rather than of character; yet knowing her versatility, we naturally expect to find among her works some potent character studies. Nor are we disappointed. "Joe," a song of the Maine woods, describes in admirably appropriate verbiage—as simple and as nearly monosyllabic as possible—the typical Anglo-Saxon stoic of far places, who faces comfort and disaster, life and death, with the same unemotional attitude which Miss Jackson sums up so skilfully in the one ejaculatory bit of colloquial indifference—"Dunno!"

"The Song of Jonny Laughlin" is a highly unusual ballad relating the history of a peculiarly good and self-sacrificing river character. The story is simple, but the piece gains distinctiveness from its absolutely faithful reproduction of the spirit of frontier balladry. In words, swing, and weird refrain, there exists every internal evidence of traditional authenticity; and that such a bit of Nature could be composed by a cultivated feminine author is an overwhelming testimonial to Miss Jackson's unique gifts.

That Miss Jackson can reflect the spirit of the most dissimilar characters is further proved by the two immensely powerful studies of the vagabond type entitled "The Call" and "John Worthington Speaks." These things are masterpieces of their kind; the self-revealing narratives of restless wanderers by land and sea, crammed to repletion with details and local colour which no one but their author could command without actual experience as a derelict of five continents and as many oceans. They leave the reader veritably breathless with wonder at the objectivity and imagination which can enable a New-England poetess to mirror with such compelling vividness in thought and language the sentiments of so utterly opposite a type. Not even the narrowly specialised genius of such rough-and-ready writers as Service and Knibbs, working in their own peculiar field, can surpass this one slight phase of Miss Jackson's universal genius.

It remains to speak of the singular power of Miss Jackson in the realm of the gruesome and the terrible. With that same sensitiveness to the unseen and the unreal which lends witchery to her gayer productions, she has achieved in darker fields of verse results inviting comparison with the best prose work of Ambrose Bierce or Maurice Level. Among her older poems the ghastly and colourful phantasy "Insomnia" and the grimly realistic rustic tragedy "Chores" excited especial praise, a critic referring as follows to the latter piece:

"It has all the compelling power which marks Miss Jackson's darker productions, and is conveyed in an arresting staccato measure which emphasises the homely horror of the theme. The phraseology, with its large proportion of rural and archaic words and constructions, adds vastly to the general effect and atmosphere."

This reference to Miss Jackson's unusual vocabulary deserves elaboration, for one of the secrets of her effective poetry is the wide and diverse array of words and word-combinations which she commands. Recondite archaisms and ruralisms, together with marvellously apt and original descriptive compounds, are things which perpetually astonish and delight her readers. Of recent specimens of Miss Jackson's darker verse, "Finality," "The Song" and "Fallen Fences" deserve especial praise. The horrible picture conjured up in the closing lines of the first named piece is one well calculated to haunt the dreams of the imaginative.

As we conclude this survey of rich and varied poetry, our dominant impression aside from admiration is that of wonder at the tardiness with which the author has been recognised by the non-amateur public. As yet the name of Jackson is a comparative novelty to the literary world, a thing explainable only by the reluctance of its possessor to adopt that species of trumpeting which helps less modest and less genuine poets into the glare of celebrity. But genius such as Miss Jackson's can not remain forever hidden, however slight be her striving for fame; so that we may reasonably expect the next few years to witness her establishment among the leading literary figures, as one of the ablest, broadest and most original of contemporary bards.

Ex Oblivione


When the last days were upon me, and the ugly trifles of existence began to drive me to madness like the small drops of water that torturers let fall ceaselessly upon one spot of their victim's body, I loved the irradiate refuge of sleep. In my dreams I found a little of the beauty I had vainly sought in life, and wandered through old gardens and enchanted woods.

Once when the wind was soft and scented I heard the south calling, and sailed endlessly and languorously under strange stars.

Once when the gentle rain fell I glided in a barge down a sunless stream under the earth till I reached another world of purple twilight, iridescent arbours and undying roses.

And once I walked through a golden valley that led to shadowy groves and ruins, and ended in a mighty wall green with antique vines, and pierced by a little gate of bronze.

Many times I walked through that valley, and longer and longer would I pause in the spectral half-light where the giant trees squirmed and twisted grotesquely, and the grey ground stretched damply from trunk to trunk, sometimes disclosing the mould-stained stones of buried temples. And always the goal of my fancies was the mighty vine-grown wall with the little gate of bronze therein.

After a while, as the days of waking became less and less bearable from their greyness and sameness, I would often drift in opiate peace through the valley and the shadowy groves, and wonder how I might seize them for my eternal dwelling-place, so that I need no more crawl back to a dull world stript of interest and new colours. And as I looked upon the little gate in the mighty wall, I felt that beyond it lay a dream-country from which, once it was entered, there would be no return.

So each night in sleep I strove to find the hidden latch of the gate in the ivied antique wall, though it was exceedingly well-hidden. And I would tell myself that the realm beyond the wall was not more lasting merely, but more lovely and radiant as well.

Then one night in the dream-city of Zakarion I found a yellowed papyrus filled with the thoughts of dream-sages who dwelt of old in that city, and who were too wise ever to be born in the waking world. Therein were written many things concerning the world of dream, and among them was lore of a golden valley and a sacred grove with temples, and a high wall pierced by a little bronze gate. When I saw this lore, I knew that it touched on the scenes I had haunted, and I therefore read long in the yellowed papyrus.

Some of the dream-sages wrote gorgeously of the wonders beyond the irrepassable gate, but others told of horror and disappointment. I knew not which to believe, yet longed more and more to cross forever into the unknown land; for doubt and secrecy are the lure of lures, and no new horror can be more terrible than the daily torture of the commonplace. So when I learned of the drug which would unlock the gate and drive me through, I resolved to take it when next I awaked.

Last night I swallowed the drug and floated dreamily into the golden valley and the shadowy groves; and when I came this time to the antique wall, I saw that the small gate of bronze was ajar. From beyond came a glow that weirdly lit the giant twisted trees and tops of the buried temples, and I drifted on songfully, expectant of the glories of the land from whence I should never return.

But as the gate swung wider and the sorcery of drug and dream pushed me through, I knew that all sights and glories were at an end; for in that new realm was neither land nor sea, but only the white void of unpeopled and illimitable space. So, happier than I had ever dared hope to be, I dissolved again into that native infinity of crystal oblivion from which the daemon Life had called me for one brief and desolate hour.


Providence, R. I., July 1, 1921.


From Treasurer, up to July 1, 1921 $18.50 Verna McGeoch (2 instalments) 10.00 E. Edward Ericson 10.00 Mr. and Mrs. Leo Fritter 2.00 John Milton Samples 1.00 Balance on Hand, April 1, 1921 8.50 ——— Total Receipts $50.00


To E. E. Ericson, for March U. A. $46.00

Balance on Hand, July 1, 1921 $4.00

H. P. LOVECRAFT, Custodian.




H. P. LOVECRAFT Official Editor E. EDWARD ERICSON Official Publisher

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The fullest of apologies is due the membership for the lateness of this issue of THE UNITED AMATEUR. A prostrating and overwhelming flood of professional duties, coupled with a state of health permitting only the shortest of working hours, has forced the editor to delay transmission of this copy to the publisher until November 4: a date which should be remembered in justice to the latter official, who is equally handicapped in the matter of conflicting duties.



In the excellent October Woodbee, Mr. Leo Fritter criticises with much force the attempt of the present editor to conduct THE UNITED AMATEUR on a tolerably civilised plane. He points out that the appearance of a journal representing a fairly uniform maturity of thought and artistic development may perhaps tend to discourage those newer aspirants who have not yet attained their full literary stature, and thus defeat the educational ends of the Association.

Mr. Fritter gathers his material for complaint from the opinions of certain amateurs with whom he has held communication, and on this basis alleges a "wide-spreading dissatisfaction" with the present editorial policy. We have ourselves received numerous and enthusiastic assurances of an opposite nature, especially since the Fritter attack, so that we must rebut at least his charge that we are ignoring the membership's wishes and "trying to conform them to a mould we have arbitrarily cast according to ideas of our own." To adopt a lower standard would, indeed, be affronting a more influential element than that which may at present be dissatisfied; an element which has possibly gained higher claims to consideration through the continuous nature of its services to the Association during trying times when others were silent and inactive.

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