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I never can be tied to raw new things,

For I first saw the light in an old town,

Where from my window huddled roofs sloped down

To a quaint harbour rich with visionings.

Streets with carved doorways where the sunset beams

Flooded old fanlights and small window-panes,

And Georgian steeples topp’d with gilded vanes –

These are the sights that shaped my childhood dreams.


IX - The Courtyard

It was the city I had known before;

The ancient, leprous town where mongrel throngs

Chant to strange gods, and beat unhallowed gongs

In crypts beneath foul alleys near the shore.

The rotting, fish-eyed houses leered at me

From where they leaned, drunk and half-animate,

As edging through the filth I passed the gate

To the black courtyard where the man would be.

The dark walls closed me in, and loud I cursed

That ever I had come to such a den,

When suddenly a score of windows burst

Into wild light, and swarmed with dancing men:

Mad, soundless revels of the dragging dead—

And not a corpse had either hands or head!

XX - Night-Gaunts

Out of what crypt they crawl, I cannot tell,

But every night I see the rubbery things,

Black, horned, and slender, with membranous wings,

They come in legions on the north wind’s swell

With obscene clutch that titillates and stings,

Snatching me off on monstrous voyagings

To grey worlds hidden deep in nightmare’s well.

Over the jagged peaks of Thok they sweep,

Heedless of all the cries I try to make,

And down the nether pits to that foul lake

Where the puffed shoggoths splash in doubtful sleep.

But ho! If only they would make some sound,

Or wear a face where faces should be found!

XXVI – The Familiars

John Whately lived about a mile from town,

Up where the hills began to huddle thick;

We never thought his wits were very quick,

Seeing the way he let his farm run down.

He used to waste his time on some queer books

He'd found around the attic of his place,

Till funny lines got creased into his face,

And folks all said they didn't like his looks.

When he began those night-howls we declared

He'd better be locked up away from harm,

So three men from the Aylesbury town farm

Went for him - but came back alone and scared.

They'd found him talking to two crouching things

That at their step flew off on great black wings.

XXXII – Alienation

His solid flesh had never been away,

For each dawn found him in his usual place,

But every night his spirit loved to race

Through gulfs and worlds remote from common day.

He had seen Yaddith, yet retained his mind,

And come back safely from the Ghooric zone,

When one still night across curved space was thrown

That beckoning piping from the voids behind.

He waked that morning as an older man,

And nothing since has looked the same to him.

Objects around float nebulous and dim—

False, phantom trifles of some vaster plan.

His folk and friends are now an alien throng

To which he struggles vainly to belong.

XXXV - Evening Star

I saw it from that hidden, silent place

Where the old wood half shuts the meadow in.

It shone through all the sunset's glories - thin

At first, but with a slowly brightening face.

Night came, and that lone beacon, amber-hued,

Beat on my sight as never it did of old;

The evening star - but grown a thousandfold

More haunting in this hush and solitude.

It traced strange pictures on the quivering air -

Half-memories that had always filled my eyes -

Vast towers and gardens; curious seas and skies

Of some dim life - I never could tell where.

But I knew that through the cosmic dome

Those rays were calling from my far, lost home.