Friendships: H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith

Updated on May 11, 2020
jhamann profile image

I can't seem to stop writing poetry or reading poetry. I think it is safe to say I love poetry and I love sharing great poetry with others.

Cthulu Statue DVG
Cthulu Statue DVG | Source

I. Our Combined Effort

”And from the intensities of death and ruin

one draws a heightened and complete life;

and both extends and vindicates himself”

From Nero by Clark Ashton Smith found in The Star-Treader and Other Poems

Little did I know that the combining of our imaginary creations would provide the key to unlocking the gate between our world and the world of the Old Gods.

My memory begins with the writing of poetry. I started writing poems by the dozens most about fantastic lands and unfamiliar Gods. My poetry caught the attention of a fellow writer, H.P. Lovecraft, who asked me to help him describe a world too hauntingly beautiful for him to put into words.

We started writing stories connected through a strange universe where paralyzing terror stood next to incredible beauty.

Each story published separately for Weird Tales yet the story moved smoothly on through what seemed to be telepathic communicaton.

Our stories combined to tell the mythology behind certain Diabolic Arts.

II. To Awake in Other Dimensions

”Above me dream, with arch of dreaded wings

In judgement and in sentence of what crime

I knew not, sate the Gods outcast of time.

They passed, and lo, a plaque of darkness fell,

unsleeping, and accurst with nameless things,

and dreams that stood the ministries of hell!”

From The Retribution by Clark Ashton Smith found in The Star-Trader and Other Poems

A mixture of your mythology and my poetry created powerful magic capable of moving ourselves from one dimension to another. This book, the key, is beyond a shadow of a doubt the reason why I am lying on a strange damp wooden floor wearing cloths shredded to rags.

Seconds before I slept in my bed comfortably under my blankets I awoke to this uncomfortable situation. Somewhere on this journey ahead of me the book contained the perfect combination of words to undo this weird spell.

As I lifted my head from the damp wood I could not help but smell rot. Nauseating fumes crept up from iron cauldrons held still by moss.

A realization that something evil lurked in this room crept upon my senses as I struggled into a kneeling position.

Then I saw her, an old woman, as she offered me a stone cup full of water.

III. “The Mother of Toads”

“What tidings do the billows bring

and cry in vain upon the strand?

If we might only understand

the brooklet’s cryptic murmuring!”

From The Mystic Meaning by Clark Ashton Smith found in Star-Treader and Other Poems

Thirst forced me to drink and as soon as my lips touched the water the old lady appeared young. I had never seen such beauty before her. I struggled not to stare as her delicate fingers took the stone cup from my mouth.

Her eyes deep deep blue.

She must be a Sorceress out of time here to protect the key located somewhere in this hut. The moment my thoughts returned to the key the Sorceress seemed to dim out of my sight as if swallowed by shadow.

Hundreds of toads took her place and circled around where I knelt. Each toad left a trail of some putrid gelatinous substance that covered the damp wooden floor where they hopped.

Then I saw her again.

IV. The Land of the Old Gods

”The tongue of earth and air are strange.

And yet (Who Knows?) one little word

learned from the language of the bird

might make us lords of Fate and Change.”

From The Mystic Meaning by Clark Ashton Smith found in Star-Treader and Other Poems

Then I saw her again.

A creature unlike anything I had seen before more like a toad than a human. The smell of rot became so strong I felt a strong urge to vomit.

“Go away you foul beast! I cannot stand to look upon you.” I screamed.

“How dare you offend me in my own home,” She croaked “It will be a pleasure to watch you die.”

"Tell me, O Gods, are ye forever doomed

To fall and flutter among special winds,

Finding release nor foothold anywhere-

Debarred from doors of all the suns, like spirits

whose names are blotted from the lists of Fire,

though they themselves yet wander undestroyed.”

From The Masque of Forsaken Gods: The Poet by Clark Ashton Smith found in The Star-Treader and Other Poems

The words fell from my lips like nectar and filled the room with a sweet fragrance.

Toads turned to rose petals that lifted into the air to blanket the Sorceress.

As the rose petals lifted she turned to stone and in her now stone hands she held a book. The key containing the perfect combination of my worlds and H.P.’s to create the spells needed to enter the world of the Old Gods.

Once I held the book in my grasp I felt pulled by an unknown force. My eyes closed tight and I felt my body stretch. I could only describe this feeling as one I would imagine someone would feel if they fell through a Black Hole.

When I finally came too I held the book close to my chest and laid on my back. I turned my head and saw nothing but sand and slowly sat up to notice three large sand dunes starting to climb from where I sat facing into the distant horizon.

This must be the land of the Old Gods, and it looked dry and foreboding, a stark contrast to the swamp of the Mother of Toads.

With our stories in front of me I started my journey into an unknown world of ancient danger and wonder.

Ashton Clark Smith
Ashton Clark Smith | Source

V. The Mystic Meaning

The Mystic Meaning

Alas! That we are deaf and blind

To meanings all about us hid!

What secrets lurk the woods amid?

What prophecies are on the wind?

What tidings do the billows bring

and cry in vain upon the strand?

If we might only understand

the brooklet’s cryptic murmuring!

The tongue of earth and air are strange

And yet (Who knows?) one little word

learned from the language of the bird

Might make us lords of Fate and Change!

By Clark Ashton Smith from The Star-Treader and Other Poems

Questions & Answers

  • Why the name change? His name was Clark Ashton Smith, not "Ashton Clark Smith".

    Shoddy self editing. I put this hub together quickly and with not meaning any disrespect mixed up his name. I have gone in and edited this problem. I apologize to any fans who may have taken offense and hope to do more editorial work to make this hub reflect my respect for the writer. Jamie

© 2020 Jamie Lee Hamann


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    • jhamann profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      5 months ago from Reno NV

      Thank you Ruby and Ann this hub is mostly a shout out to Weird Tales magazine and the stories I used to read growing up. I loved to read HP when I was a teenager even though I no longer read him as much. Jamie

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      5 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I'm not into mystic, but the poetry is interesting.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Well, this is interesting! Weird and mystic. A little different from the norm, Jamie. I'm intrigued.



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