Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lovecraft 101 - Memory

By today’s standards, Memory is what we would call a work of flash fiction, barely stretching a page in length. It is perhaps the most poetic of HPL’s prose work. He uses lofty poetic language to describe in great detail the overgrown vegetation of a small valley filled with ancient carved stones. Two non-corporeal entities meet and a very simple question gets asked. Who made these stones so long ago. The response is equally as simple, they were made by a creature that came and went in the blink of an eye by comparison to the ancient beings.
Memory is about the temporary nature of all things. The most poetic telling of Lovecraft’s common theme. We are insignificant. Here and then gone in an instant. Hopefully a memory to someone, and not completely forgotten.
You can read the entire text after the jump.
Illustration by Jeff Powers © 2012

by H P Lovecraft
In the valley of Nis the accursed waning moon shines thinly, tearing a path for its light with feeble horns through the lethal foliage of a great upas-tree. And within the depths of the valley, where the light reaches not, move forms not meet to be beheld. Rank is the herbage on each slope, where evil vines and creeping plants crawl amidst the stones of ruined palaces, twining tightly about broken columns and strange monoliths, and heaving up marble pavements laid by forgotten hands. And in trees that grow gigantic in crumbling courtyards leap little apes, while in and out of deep treasure-vaults writhe poison serpents and scaly things without a name.
      Vast are the stones which sleep beneath coverlets of dank moss, and mighty were the walls from which they fell. For all time did their builders erect them, and in sooth they yet serve nobly, for beneath them the grey toad makes his habitation.
      At the very bottom of the valley lies the river Than, whose waters are slimy and filled with weeds. From hidden springs it rises, and to subterranean grottoes it flows, so that the Daemon of the Valley knows not why its waters are red, nor whither they are bound.
      The Genie that haunts the moonbeams spake to the Daemon of the Valley, saying, “I am old, and forget much. Tell me the deeds and aspect and name of them who built these things of stone.” And the Daemon replied, “I am Memory, and am wise in lore of the past, but I too am old. These beings were like the waters of the river Than, not to be understood. Their deeds I recall not, for they were but of the moment. Their aspect I recall dimly, for it was like to that of the little apes in the trees. Their name I recall clearly, for it rhymed with that of the river. These beings of yesterday were called Man.”
      So the Genie flew back to the thin horned moon, and the Daemon looked intently at a little ape in a tree that grew in a crumbling courtyard.

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