Monday, November 12, 2012

"The Tomb"

Above, a mammoth tomb at Swan Point Cemetery.  I visited the site in October of 2007, at which time I spent four days in Providence.  I've been thinking of Swan Point because I am studying H. P. Lovecraft's :The Tomb," in anticipation of writing my own "version" of that tale.  This is my new wee thing--writing my own takes on the fiction of Lovecraft, or sequels to stories by Bloch and Derleth, &c.  The story I have been trying to write, about Hangman's Hill in Arkham, simply isn't working, it refuses to spill from my crack'd skull.  After nearly two months of trying to write it, I have given up and nigh seek a new artistic path.  But I want to write a graveyard tale, and thus I immediately thought of "The Tomb."  Writes S. T. Joshi, in ye Penguin edition, The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories (pg. 368):

"'The Tomb' was written in June of 1917, the first story HPL had written since 1908.  ,,, HPL noted that the genesis of the story occurred in June 1917, when he was walking with his aunt Lillian Clark through Swan Point Cemetery and came upon a tombstone dating to 1711.  'Why could I not talk with him, and enter more intimately into the life of my chosen age?  What had left his body, that it could no longer converse with me?  I looked long at that grave, and the night after I returned home I began my first story of the new series--"The Tomb."'"

There is much in that paragraph that entices my imagination.  I am one of those weird children who has always loved the aura of graveyards, and one of my favorite childhood haunts was a place I called "Graham Hill Graveyard," where I would go and play among the broken tombs that were surrounded by overgrowth.  I would sometimes dress up in my vampire costume and have my photo taken there.

It was a happy place for me.  The same, alas, cannot be said of Swan Point, when my friends took me there to visit Lovecraft's graveside.  Looking at E'ch-Pi-El's tombstone fill'd me with unmitigated sorrow, because I could not help but reflect that Grandpa went to his grave probably thinking himself a failure as a writer.  He became more and more dissatisfied with his work as he grew older, as more and more it was rejected by Weird Tales.  That is why I look so wretched in photos of me at Lovecraft's grave.
I could not stop my flow of tears.  I felt a sense of--well, it was almost a sense of guilt--that I was having books of my fiction publish'd, books of tales written in homage of H. P. Lovecraft--but he had never had a collection of his stories publish'd in his lifetime.  Perhaps I can use my intense woe of that moment as an ingredient in this story I now want to try and write, my own wee "version " of H. P. Lovecraft's "The Tomb."  We shall see.


  1. Is it not the interplay of light and shadow that creates that aura. The different aspects interplayed giving expression to what the minds eye might see...Dwelt in shadow the pallor grows consuming light into an oblivion of darkness. Yet should I walk out into the light will I not be burned!...And we're back to fear!

  2. Hey, you're left-handed. So am I.