Lovecraft and the Moon
HP Lovecraft was obsessed with the moon.
The moon (and moonlight, moonbeams, etc.) feature disproportionately in
his writings, especially in his fiction where he even went so far as to
use the moon for a setting! In fact, references to the moon turn
every style of writing Lovecraft did in his life, even a paper writen
in his youth 1903 called "The Moon." This page compiles short
from various works in which the moon is mentioned. I don't
deep analysis of his frequent inclusion of the moon. This page
stands as a testament of its frequency and maybe as a starting point
for those who wish to pursue any work on the subject.
Most of Lovecraft's solo stories include some mention of the
moon. In fact, the list of those where there is no
the moon or moonlight is fairly short:
The Picture in the House
The Cats of Ulthar
The Temple (which is set underwater, of
The Rats in the Walls
The Shunned House
The Strange High House in the Mist
The Thing on the Doorstep
History of the Necronomicon (not a
story, strictly speaking)
Beyond the Wall of Sleep (though there
is a reference to the fourth
moon of Jupiter)
What follows are excepts in which the moon is mentioned in some
manner. The next section examines his collaborations and
Well did I come to know the
presiding dryads of those trees, and often
have I watched their wild dances in the struggling beams of a waning
moon—but of these things I must not now speak.
As I emerged from an intervening grove
upon the plain before the ruin,
I beheld in the misty moonlight a thing I had always vaguely expected.
I know not why my dreams were
that night; but ere the waning and fantastically gibbous moon had risen
far above the eastern plain, I was awake in a cold perspiration,
determined to sleep no more. Such visions as I had experienced were too
much for me to endure again. And in the glow of the moon I saw how
unwise I had been to travel by day.
said that the unbroken monotony
of the rolling plain was a source of vague horror to me; but I think my
horror was greater when I gained the summit of the mound and looked
down the other side into an immeasurable pit or canyon, whose black
recesses the moon had not yet soared high enough to illumine. I felt
myself on the edge of the world; peering over the rim into a fathomless
chaos of eternal night. Through my terror ran curious reminiscences of
Paradise Lost, and of Satan’s hideous climb through the unfashioned
realms of darkness.
As the moon climbed higher in the
began to see that the slopes of the valley were not quite so
perpendicular as I had imagined.
All at once my attention was captured by
a vast and singular object on
the opposite slope, which rose steeply about an hundred yards ahead of
me; an object that gleamed whitely in the newly bestowed rays of the
The moon, now near the zenith, shone
weirdly and vividly above the
towering steeps that hemmed in the chasm, and revealed the fact that a
far-flung body of water flowed at the bottom, winding out of sight in
both directions, and almost lapping my feet as I stood on the slope.
Awestruck at this unexpected glimpse
into a past beyond the conception
of the most daring anthropologist, I stood musing whilst the moon cast
queer reflections on the silent channel before me.
It is at night, especially when
is gibbous and waning, that I see the thing.
And in the autumn of the year,
when the winds from the north curse and
whine, and the red-leaved trees of the swamp mutter things to one
another in the small hours of the morning under the horned waning moon,
I sit by the casement and watch that star.
And it was under a horned waning
that I saw the city for the first time.
Forms strangely robed, but at once noble
and familiar, walked abroad,
and under the horned waning moon men talked wisdom in a tongue which I
understood, though it was unlike any language I had ever known.
Thereafter, on the cloudy nights when I
could sleep, I saw the city
often; sometimes under that horned waning moon, and sometimes under the
hot yellow rays of a sun which did not set, but which wheeled low
around the horizon. And on the clear nights the Pole Star leered as
But as I stood in the tower’s
chamber, I beheld the horned waning moon, red and sinister, quivering
through the vapours that hovered over the distant valley of Banof. And
through an opening in the roof glittered the pale Pole Star, fluttering
as if alive, and leering like a fiend and tempter.
You and I have drifted to the
worlds that reel about the red Arcturus,
and dwelt in the bodies of the insect-philosophers that crawl proudly
over the fourth moon of Jupiter.
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.
The Genie that haunts the
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
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.
A storm was gathering around
the peaks of the range, and weirdly shaped
clouds scudded horribly across the blurred patch of celestial light
which marked a gibbous moon’s attempts to shine through many layers of
Also, Lovecraft included a note with this story in reference to the
above passage: "Here is a lesson in
scientific accuracy for fiction writers. I have just looked up
moon's phases for October, 1894, to find when a gibbous moon was
visible at 2. a.m., and have changed the dates to fit!"
Out of the South it was that
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 distant 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
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.
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.
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
in the immemorial year of Tharp that I saw outlined the beckoning form
of the celestial bird, and felt the first stirrings of unrest.
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
led us toward the basalt pillars of the West, but this time the oarsmen
sang no soft songs under the full moon.
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.
And thereafter the ocean told me
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.
It is also written that they
descended one night from the moon in a
mist; they and the vast still lake and grey stone city Ib. However this
may be, it is certain that they worshipped a sea-green stone idol
chiselled in the likeness of Bokrug, the great water-lizard; before
which they danced horribly when the moon was gibbous.
And up unending steps of shining zircon
was the tower-chamber,
wherefrom the high-priests looked out over the city and the plains and
the lake by day; and at the cryptic moon and significant stars and
planets, and their reflections in the lake, by night. Here was done the
very secret and ancient rite in detestation of Bokrug, the
water-lizard, and here rested the altar of chrysolite which bore the
DOOM-scrawl of Taran-Ish.
And they were surmounted by a mighty
dome of glass, through which shone
the sun and moon and stars and planets when it was clear, and from
which were hung fulgent images of the sun and moon and stars and
planets when it was not clear.
And it was the high-priest Gnai-Kah who
first saw the shadows that
descended from the gibbous moon into the lake, and the damnable green
mists that arose from the lake to meet the moon and to shroud in a
sinister haze the towers and the domes of fated Sarnath.
That idol, enshrined in the high temple
at Ilarnek, was subsequently
worshipped beneath the gibbous moon throughout the land of Mnar.
The picture seared into my
soul is of one scene only, and the hour must
have been long after midnight; for a waning crescent moon was high in
the vaporous heavens.
Over the valley’s rim a wan, waning
crescent moon peered through the
noisome vapours that seemed to emanate from unheard-of catacombs, and
by its feeble, wavering beams I could distinguish a repellent array of
antique slabs, urns, cenotaphs, and mausolean facades; all crumbling,
moss-grown, and moisture-stained, and partly concealed by the gross
luxuriance of the unhealthy vegetation.
I was alone, yet bound to the unknown
depths by those magic strands
whose insulated surface lay green beneath the struggling beams of that
waning crescent moon.
Amorphous shadows seemed to lurk in the
darker recesses of the
weed-choked hollow and to flit as in some blasphemous ceremonial
procession past the portals of the mouldering tombs in the hillside;
shadows which could not have been cast by that pallid, peering crescent
Heard it well up from the innermost
depths of that damnable open
sepulchre as I watched amorphous, necrophagous shadows dance beneath an
accursed waning moon.
Terrible Old Man
Ricci and Silva met in Water
Street by the old man’s front gate, and
although they did not like the way the moon shone down upon the painted
stones through the budding branches of the gnarled trees, they had more
important things to think about than mere idle superstition.
At one end of that tomb, its
curious roots displacing the time-stained
blocks of Pentelic marble, grows an unnaturally large olive tree of
oddly repellent shape; so like to some grotesque man, or
death-distorted body of a man, that the country folk fear to pass it at
night when the moon shines faintly through the crooked boughs.
Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn
and His Family
But it was the talk of Sir
especially when in his cups, which chiefly led his friends to deem him
mad. In a rational age like the eighteenth century it was unwise for a
man of learning to talk about wild sights and strange scenes under a
Congo moon; of the gigantic walls and pillars of a forgotten city,
crumbling and vine-grown, and of damp, silent, stone steps leading
interminably down into the darkness of abysmal treasure-vaults and
that Street many trees; elms and oaks and maples of
dignity; so that in the summer the scene was all soft verdure and
twittering bird-song. And behind the houses were walled rose-gardens
with hedged paths and sundials, where at evening the moon and stars
would shine bewitchingly while fragrant blossoms glistened with dew.
trees still sheltered singing birds, and at evening the moon
and stars looked down upon dewy blossoms in the walled rose-gardens.
the old houses stood, with their forgotten lore of nobler,
departed centuries; of sturdy colonial tenants and dewy rose-gardens in
says that all through the hours before dawn he beheld sordid
ruins but indistinctly in the glare of the arc-lights; that there
loomed above the wreckage another picture wherein he could descry
moonlight and fair houses and elms and oaks and maples of dignity.
It was moonlight, and he had stolen out into
the fragrant summer night,
through the gardens, down the terraces, past the great oaks of the
park, and along the long white road to the village. The village seemed
very old, eaten away at the edge like the moon which had commenced to
wane, and Kuranes wondered whether the peaked roofs of the small houses
hid sleep or death.
Then he had been drawn down a lane that led off
from the village street
toward the channel cliffs, and had come to the end of things—to the
precipice and the abyss where all the village and all the world fell
abruptly into the unechoing emptiness of infinity, and where even the
sky ahead was empty and unlit by the crumbling moon and the peering
On another night Kuranes walked up a damp stone
endlessly, and came to a tower window overlooking a mighty plain and
river lit by the full moon; and in the silent city that spread away
from the river-bank he thought he beheld some feature or arrangement
which he had known before.
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 believe we felt
something coming down from the greenish moon, for
when we began to depend on its light we drifted into curious
involuntary formations and seemed to know our destinations though we
dared not think of them.
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.
The Picture in
They climb to the moonlit towers of ruined
Rhine castles, and falter
down black cobwebbed steps beneath the scattered stones of forgotten
cities in Asia.
The Nameless City
I was travelling
in a parched and terrible valley under the moon, and
afar I saw it protruding uncannily above the sands as parts of a corpse
may protrude from an ill-made grave.
When I came upon
it in the ghastly stillness of unending sleep it
looked at me, chilly from the rays of a cold moon amidst the desert’s
When night and the
moon returned I felt a chill wind which brought new
fear, so that I did not dare to remain in the city. And as I went
outside the antique walls to sleep, a small sighing sandstorm gathered
behind me, blowing over the grey stones though the moon was bright and
most of the desert still.
now approached, yet the
tangible things I had seen made curiosity stronger than fear, so that I
did not flee from the long moon-cast shadows that had daunted me when
first I saw the nameless city.
The moon was
gleaming vividly over the
primeval ruins, lighting a dense cloud of sand that seemed blown by a
strong but decreasing wind from some point along the cliff ahead of me.
Soon it grew
fainter and the sand grew more and more still, till
finally all was at rest again; but a presence seemed stalking among the
spectral stones of the city, and when I glanced at the moon it seemed
to quiver as though mirrored in unquiet waters.
“A reservoir of
cauldrons are, when fill’d
With moon-drugs in
th’ eclipse distill’d.
In these views the
city and the desert valley were shewn always by
moonlight, a golden nimbus hovering over the fallen walls and half
revealing the splendid perfection of former times, shewn spectrally and
elusively by the artist.
The forms of the
people—always represented by the sacred
reptiles—appeared to be gradually wasting away, though their spirit as
shewn hovering about the ruins by moonlight gained in proportion.
there came another burst of
that acute fear which had intermittently seized me ever since I first
saw the terrible valley and the nameless city under a cold moon, and
despite my exhaustion I found myself starting frantically to a sitting
posture and gazing back along the black corridor toward the tunnels
that rose to the outer world.
The Quest of
My wealth is in little memories and dreams, and
in hopes that I sing in
gardens when the moon is tender and the west wind stirs the lotos-buds.”
“I remember the twilight, the moon, and
soft songs, and the window where I was rocked to sleep. And through the
window was the street where the golden lights came, and where the
shadows danced on houses of marble. I remember the square of moonlight
on the floor, that was not like any other light, and the visions that
danced in the moonbeams when my mother sang to me.
Then one night when the moon was full
the travellers came to a mountain crest and looked down upon the myriad
lights of Oonai. Peasants had told them they were near, and Iranon knew
that this was not his native city of Aira. The lights of Oonai were not
like those of Aira; for they were harsh and glaring, while the lights
of Aira shine as softly and magically as shone the moonlight on the
floor by the window where Iranon’s mother once rocked him to sleep with
I heard them in my youth from the lips of a
playmate, a beggar’s boy
given to strange dreams, who would weave long tales about the moon and
the flowers and the west wind.
And in the twilight, as the stars came
out one by one and the moon cast on the marsh a radiance like that
which a child sees quivering on the floor as he is rocked to sleep at
evening, there walked into the lethal quicksands a very old man in
tattered purple, crowned with withered vine-leaves and gazing ahead as
if upon the golden domes of a fair city where dreams are understood.
And now I shudder
when I hear the frogs piping in swamps, or see the
moon in lonely places.
There were tales
of dancing lights in the dark of the moon, and of
chill winds when the night was warm; of wraiths in white hovering over
the waters, and of an imagined city of stone deep down below the swampy
In the Book of
Invaders it is told that these sons of the Greeks were
all buried at Tallaght, but old men in Kilderry said that one city was
overlooked save by its patron moon-goddess; so that only the wooded
hills buried it when the men of Nemed swept down from Scythia in their
shewed me to my room, which was in a remote tower
overlooking the village, and the plain at the edge of the bog, and the
bog itself; so that I could see from my windows in the moonlight the
silent roofs from which the peasants had fled and which now sheltered
the labourers from the north, and too, the parish church with its
antique spire, and far out across the brooding bog the remote olden
ruin on the islet gleaming white and spectral.
And that night my
dreams of piping flutes and marble peristyles came to
a sudden and disquieting end; for upon the city in the valley I saw a
pestilence descend, and then a frightful avalanche of wooded slopes
that covered the dead bodies in the streets and left unburied only the
temple of Artemis on the high peak, where the aged moon-priestess Cleis
lay cold and silent with a crown of ivory on her silver head.
I have said
that I awaked suddenly and
in alarm. For some time I could not tell whether I was waking or
sleeping, for the sound of flutes still rang shrilly in my ears; but
when I saw on the floor the icy moonbeams and the outlines of a
latticed Gothic window I decided I must be awake and in the castle at
There in the
moonlight that flooded the
spacious plain was a spectacle which no mortal, having seen it, could
ever forget. To the sound of reedy pipes that echoed over the bog there
glided silently and eerily a mixed throng of swaying figures, reeling
through such a revel as the Sicilians may have danced to Demeter in the
old days under the harvest moon beside the Cyane. The wide plain, the
golden moonlight, the shadowy moving forms, and above all the shrill
monotonous piping, produced an effect which almost paralysed me; yet I
noted amidst my fear that half of these tireless, mechanical dancers
were the labourers whom I had thought asleep, whilst the other half
were strange airy beings in white, half indeterminate in nature, but
suggesting pale wistful naiads from the haunted fountains of the bog.
It was very dark,
for although the sky was clear the moon was now well
in the wane, and would not rise till the small hours.
I was lying with
my back to the east window overlooking the bog, where
the waning moon would rise, and therefore expected to see light cast on
the opposite wall before me; but I had not looked for such a sight as
now appeared. Light indeed glowed on the panels ahead, but it was not
any light that the moon gives.
And as the last
pathetic straggler, the fat cook, sank heavily out of
sight in that sullen pool, the flutes and the drums grew silent, and
the blinding red rays from the ruins snapped instantaneously out,
leaving the village of doom lone and desolate in the wan beams of a
Then I felt the
icy blast from the east window where the moon had
risen, and began to hear the shrieks in the castle far below me.
What I muttered
about as I came slowly out of the shadows was a pair of
fantastic incidents which occurred in my flight; incidents of no
significance, yet which haunt me unceasingly when I am alone in certain
marshy places or in the moonlight.
bloated and green in the moonbeams, and seemed to gaze
up at the fount of light. I followed the gaze of one very fat and ugly
frog, and saw the second of the things which drove my senses away.
directly from the strange
olden ruin on the far islet to the waning moon, my eyes seemed to trace
a beam of faint quivering radiance having no reflection in the waters
of the bog.
Believing I was now at a prodigious height, far
above the accursed
branches of the wood, I dragged myself up from the floor and fumbled
about for windows, that I might look for the first time upon the sky,
and the moon and stars of which I had read.
As I did so there came to me the purest ecstasy
I have ever known; for
shining tranquilly through an ornate grating of iron, and down a short
stone passageway of steps that ascended from the newly found doorway,
was the radiant full moon, which I had never before seen save in dreams
and in vague visions I dared not call memories.
Fancying now that I had attained the very
of the castle, I commenced to rush up the few steps beyond the door;
but the sudden veiling of the moon by a cloud caused me to stumble, and
I felt my way more slowly in the dark. It was still very dark when I
reached the grating—which I tried carefully and found unlocked, but
which I did not open for fear of falling from the amazing height to
which I had climbed. Then the moon came out.
The sight itself was as simple as it was
stupefying, for it was merely
this: instead of a dizzying prospect of treetops seen from a lofty
eminence, there stretched around me on a level through the grating
nothing less than the solid ground, decked and diversified by marble
slabs and columns, and overshadowed by an ancient stone church, whose
ruined spire gleamed spectrally in the moonlight.
In a dream I fled from that haunted and
accursed pile, and ran swiftly
and silently in the moonlight. When I returned to the churchyard place
of marble and went down the steps I found the stone trap-door
immovable; but I was not sorry, for I had hated the antique castle and
I know that light is not for me, save that of
the moon over the rock
tombs of Neb, nor any gaiety save the unnamed feasts of Nitokris
beneath the Great Pyramid; yet in my new wildness and freedom I almost
welcome the bitterness of alienage.
The Other Gods
Often the gods of
earth visit Hatheg-Kla in their ships of cloud,
casting pale vapours over the slopes as they dance reminiscently on the
summit under a clear moon. The villagers of Hatheg say it is ill to
climb Hatheg-Kla at any time, and deadly to climb it by night when pale
vapours hide the summit and the moon; but Barzai heeded them not when
he came from neighbouring Ulthar with the young priest Atal, who was
Finally the air
grew thin, and the sky changed colour, and the climbers
found it hard to breathe; but still they toiled up and up, marvelling
at the strangeness of the scene and thrilling at the thought of what
would happen on the summit when the moon was out and the pale vapours
spread around. For three days they climbed higher, higher, and higher
toward the roof of the world; then they camped to wait for the clouding
of the moon.
nights no clouds came, and the
moon shone down cold through the thin mournful mists around the silent
pinnacle,. Then on the fifth night, which was the night of the full
moon, Barzai saw some dense clouds far to the north, and stayed up with
Atal to watch them draw near. Thick and majestic they sailed, slowly
and deliberately onward; ranging themselves round the peak high above
the watchers, and hiding the moon and the summit from view.
were the vapours that the way
was hard, and though Atal followed on at last, he could scarce see the
grey shape of Barzai on the dim slope above in the clouded moonlight.
Atal was far
below, and planning what he should do when he reached the
place, when curiously he noticed that the light had grown strong, as if
the cloudless peak and moonlit meeting-place of the gods were very near.
The mists are thin
and the moon is bright, and I shall see the gods
dancing wildly on Hatheg-Kla that they loved in youth!
are very thin, and the moon
casts shadows on the slope; the voices of earth’s gods are high and
wild, and they fear the coming of Barzai the Wise, who is greater than
they. . . . The moon’s light flickers, as earth’s gods dance against
it; I shall see the dancing forms of the gods that leap and howl in the
moonlight. . . . The light is dimmer and the gods are afraid. . . .”
The light of the
moon had strangely failed, and as Atal plunged upward
through the mists he heard Barzai the Wise shrieking in the shadows:
“The moon is
dark, and the gods dance in
the night; there is terror in the sky, for upon the moon hath sunk an
eclipse foretold in no books of men or of earth’s gods. . . .
And as Atal
shut his eyes and stopped
his ears and tried to jump downward against the frightful pull from
unknown heights, there resounded on Hatheg-Kla that terrible peal of
thunder which awaked the good cotters of the plains and the honest
burgesses of Hatheg and Nir and Ulthar, and caused them to behold
through the clouds that strange eclipse of the moon that no book ever
predicted. And when the moon came out at last Atal was safe on the
lower snows of the mountain without sight of earth’s gods, or of the
Wise they never found, nor
could the holy priest Atal ever be persuaded to pray for his soul’s
repose. Moreover, to this day the people of Ulthar and Nir and Hatheg
fear eclipses, and pray by night when pale vapours hide the
mountain-top and the moon.
The Music of
The old man’s glance brought Blandot’s
remark to my mind, and with a certain capriciousness I felt a wish to
look out over the wide and dizzying panorama of moonlit roofs and city
lights beyond the hill-top, which of all the dwellers in the Rue
d’Auseil only this crabbed musician could see.
And I recall that there was no wind, and that
the moon was out, and
that all the lights of the city twinkled.
He was a
loathsome, gorilla-like thing, with abnormally long arms which
I could not help calling fore legs, and a face that conjured up
thoughts of unspeakable Congo secrets and tom-tom poundings under an
bright moonlight over the
snowless landscape, but we dressed the thing and carried it home
between us through the deserted streets and meadows, as we had carried
a similar thing one horrible night in Arkham.
After the clock
had struck three the moon shone in my eyes, but I
turned over without rising to pull down the shade. Then came the steady
rattling at the back door.
When we reached
the door I cautiously unbolted it and threw it open,
and as the moon streamed revealingly down on the form silhouetted
there, West did a peculiar thing.
visitor was neither Italian nor
policeman. Looming hideously against the spectral moon was a gigantic
misshapen thing not to be imagined save in nightmares—a glassy-eyed,
ink-black apparition nearly on all fours, covered with bits of mould,
leaves, and vines, foul with caked blood, and having between its
glistening teeth a snow-white, terrible, cylindrical object terminating
in a tiny hand.
Struggling anew, I came to the end of the
drug-dream and opened my
physical eyes to the tower studio in whose opposite corner reclined the
pallid and still unconscious form of my fellow-dreamer, weirdly haggard
and wildly beautiful as the moon shed gold-green light on his marble
What the Moon Brings
I hate the moon—I
am afraid of it—for when it shines on certain scenes
familiar and loved it sometimes makes them unfamiliar and hideous.
It was in
the spectral summer when the
moon shone down on the old garden where I wandered; the spectral summer
of narcotic flowers and humid seas of foliage that bring wild and
many-coloured dreams. And as I walked by the shallow crystal stream I
saw unwonted ripples tipped with yellow light, as if those placid
waters were drawn on in resistless currents to strange oceans that are
not in the world. Silent and sparkling, bright and baleful, those
moon-cursed waters hurried I knew not whither; whilst from the
embowered banks white lotos blossoms fluttered one by one in the opiate
night-wind and dropped despairingly into the stream, swirling away
horribly under the arched, carven bridge, and staring back with the
sinister resignation of calm, dead faces.
sea the hateful moon shone,
and over its unvocal waves weird perfumes brooded. And as I saw therein
the lotos-faces vanish, I longed for nets that I might capture them and
learn from them the secrets which the moon had brought upon the night.
But when the moon went over to the west and the still tide ebbed from
the sullen shore, I saw in that light old spires that the waves almost
uncovered, and white columns gay with festoons of green seaweed.
So I watched
the tide go out under that
sinking moon, and saw gleaming the spires, the towers, and the roofs of
that dead, dripping city.
horrors the evil moon now
hung very low, but the puffy worms of the sea need no moon to feed by.
And as I watched the ripples that told of the writhing of worms
beneath, I felt a new chill from afar out whither the condor had flown,
as if my flesh had caught a horror before my eyes had seen it.
And when I saw
that this reef was but the black basalt crown of a
shocking eikon whose monstrous forehead now shone in the dim moonlight
and whose vile hooves must paw the hellish ooze miles below, I shrieked
and shrieked lest the hidden face rise above the waters, and lest the
hidden eyes look at me after the slinking away of that leering and
treacherous yellow moon.
The predatory excursions on which we
collected our unmentionable treasures were always artistically
memorable events. We were no vulgar ghouls, but worked only under
certain conditions of mood, landscape, environment, weather, season,
I can recall the scene in these final
moments—the pale autumnal moon
over the graves, casting long horrible shadows; the grotesque trees,
drooping sullenly to meet the neglected grass and the crumbling slabs;
the vast legions of strangely colossal bats that flew against the moon;
the antique ivied church pointing a huge spectral finger at the livid
sky; the phosphorescent insects that danced like death-fires under the
yews in a distant corner; the odours of mould, vegetation, and less
explicable things that mingled feebly with the night-wind from over far
swamps and seas; and worst of all, the faint deep-toned baying of some
gigantic hound which we could neither see nor definitely place.
I remembered how we delved in this
ghoul’s grave with our spades, and how we thrilled at the picture of
ourselves, the grave, the pale watching moon, the horrible shadows, the
grotesque trees, the titanic bats, the antique church, the dancing
death-fires, the sickening odours, the gently moaning night-wind, and
the strange, half-heard, directionless baying, of whose objective
existence we could scarcely be sure.
But the autumn moon shone weak and pale, and we
could not be sure.
Once we fancied that a large, opaque body
darkened the library window
when the moon was shining against it, and another time we thought we
heard a whirring or flapping sound not far off.
His screams had reached the house, and I had
hastened to the terrible
scene in time to hear a whir of wings and see a vague black cloudy
thing silhouetted against the rising moon. My friend was dying when I
spoke to him, and he could not answer coherently.
The moon was up, but I dared not look at it.
And when I saw on the
dim-litten moor a wide nebulous shadow sweeping from mound to mound, I
shut my eyes and threw myself face down upon the ground.
So at last I stood again in that
unwholesome churchyard where a pale winter moon cast hideous shadows,
and leafless trees drooped sullenly to meet the withered, frosty grass
and cracking slabs, and the ivied church pointed a jeering finger at
the unfriendly sky, and the night-wind howled maniacally from over
frozen swamps and frigid seas.
The Lurking Fear
afternoon of my search brought
nothing to light, and dusk came as I stood on Maple Hill looking down
at the hamlet and across the valley to Tempest Mountain. There had been
a gorgeous sunset, and now the moon came up, nearly full and shedding a
silver flood over the plain, the distant mountainside, and the curious
low mounds that rose here and there. It was a peaceful Arcadian scene,
but knowing what it hid I hated it. I hated the mocking moon, the
hypocritical plain, the festering mountain, and those sinister mounds.
Everything seemed to me tainted with a loathsome contagion, and
inspired by a noxious alliance with distorted hidden powers.
as I gazed abstractedly at
the moonlit panorama, my eye became attracted by something singular in
the nature and arrangement of a certain topographical element. Without
having any exact knowledge of geology, I had from the first been
interested in the odd mounds and hummocks of the region. I had noticed
that they were pretty widely distributed around Tempest Mountain,
though less numerous on the plain than near the hill-top itself, where
prehistoric glaciation had doubtless found feebler opposition to its
striking and fantastic caprices. Now, in the light of that low moon
which cast long weird shadows, it struck me forcibly that the various
points and lines of the mound system had a peculiar relation to the
summit of Tempest Mountain.
After that I
recall running, spade in
hand; a hideous run across moon-litten, mound-marked meadows and
through diseased, precipitous abysses of haunted hillside forest;
leaping, screaming, panting, bounding toward the terrible Martense
The moon no longer
shone through the chinks and apertures above me, and
with a sense of fateful alarm I heard the sinister and significant
rumble of approaching thunder.
Once a post-rider said he saw an old man
chasing and calling to a
frightful loping, nameless thing on Meadow Hill in the thinly moonlit
hours before dawn, and many believed him.
We went out
into the moonless and
tortuous network of that incredibly ancient town; went out as the
lights in the curtained windows disappeared one by one, and the Dog
Star leered at the throng of cowled, cloaked figures that poured
silently from every doorway and formed monstrous processions up this
street and that, past the creaking signs and antediluvian gables, the
thatched roofs and diamond-paned windows; threading precipitous lanes
where decaying houses overlapped and crumbled together, gliding across
open courts and churchyards where the bobbing lanthorns made eldritch
The Horror at
They had come in steamships, apparently tramp
freighters, and had been
unloaded by stealth on moonless nights in rowboats which stole under a
certain wharf and followed a hidden canal to a secret subterranean pool
beneath a house.
“O friend and
companion of night, thou who rejoicest in the baying of dogs and spilt
blood, who wanderest in the midst of shades among the tombs, who
longest for blood and bringest terror to mortals, Gorgo, Mormo,
thousand-faced moon, look favourably on our sacrifices!”
Incubi and succubae howled praise to Hecate,
and headless moon-calves
bleated to the Magna Mater.
“O friend and companion of night, thou
who rejoicest in the baying of dogs (here a hideous howl burst forth)
and spilt blood (here nameless sounds vied with morbid shriekings), who
wanderest in the midst of shades among the tombs (here a whistling sigh
occurred), who longest for blood and bringest terror to mortals (short,
sharp cries from myriad throats), Gorgo (repeated as response), Mormo
(repeated with ecstasy), thousand-faced moon (sighs and flute notes),
look favourably on our sacrifices!”
“O friend and
companion of night, thou who rejoicest in the baying of dogs and spilt
blood, who wanderest in the midst of shades among the tombs, who
longest for blood and bringest terror to mortals, Gorgo, Mormo,
thousand-faced moon, look favourably on our sacrifices!”
shewed choler when the place was built, and were plaguy
pestilent in asking to visit the grounds at the full of the moon. For
years they stole over the wall each month when they could, and by
stealth performed sartain acts.
For full three
seconds I could glimpse that pandaemoniac sight, and in
those seconds I saw a vista which will ever afterward torment me in
dreams. I saw the heavens verminous with strange flying things, and
beneath them a hellish black city of giant stone terraces with impious
pyramids flung savagely to the moon, and devil-lights burning from
moon—damn ye—ye . . . ye
yelping dog—ye called ’em, and they’ve come for me!
still clutched in his right hand as his left clawed out
at me, grew taut and finally crashed down from their lofty fastenings;
admitting to the room a flood of that full moonlight which the
brightening of the sky had presaged.
The green moon,
shining through broken windows, shewed me the hall door
half open; and as I rose from the plaster-strown floor and twisted
myself free from the sagged ceilings, I saw sweep past it an awful
torrent of blackness, with scores of baleful eyes glowing in it.
Now liberated for
the instant from the wreckage, I rushed through the
hall to the front door; and finding myself unable to open it, seized a
chair and broke a window, climbing frenziedly out upon the unkempt lawn
where moonlight danced over yard-high grass and weeds. The wall was
high, and all the gates were locked; but moving a pile of boxes in a
corner I managed to gain the top and cling to the great stone urn set
The steep street
of my approach was nowhere visible, and the little I
did see succumbed rapidly to a mist that rolled in from the river
despite the glaring moonlight.
In the Vault
He worked largely by feeling now, since newly
gathered clouds hid the
moon; and though progress was still slow, he felt heartened at the
extent of his encroachments on the top and bottom of the aperture.
He could not walk, it appeared, and the
emerging moon must have
witnessed a horrible sight as he dragged his bleeding ankles toward the
cemetery lodge; his fingers clawing the black mould in brainless haste,
and his body responding with that maddening slowness from which one
suffers when chased by the phantoms of nightmare.
The moon was shining on the scattered brick
fragments and marred
facade, and the latch of the great door yielded readily to a touch from
The Call of Cthulhu
There is a sense
of spectral whirling through liquid gulfs of infinity,
of dizzying rides through reeling universes on a comet’s tail, and of
hysterical plunges from the pit to the moon and from the moon back
again to the pit, all livened by a cachinnating chorus of the
distorted, hilarious elder gods and the green, bat-winged mocking imps
When we did turn, it was to climb
through the deserted length of the oldest and dirtiest alley I ever saw
in my life, with crumbling-looking gables, broken small-paned windows,
and archaic chimneys that stood out half-disintegrated against the
The Silver Key
No more could his
galleys sail up the river Oukranos past the gilded
spires of Thran, or his elephant caravans tramp through perfumed
jungles in Kled, where forgotten palaces with veined ivory columns
sleep lovely and unbroken under the moon.
Randy! Mister Randy! Whar be ye?
D’ye want to skeer yer Aunt Marthy plumb to death? Hain’t she tuld ye
to keep nigh the place in the arternoon an’ git back afur dark? Randy!
Ran . . . dee! . . . He’s the beatin’est boy fer runnin’ off in the
woods I ever see; haff the time a-settin’ moonin’ raound that snake-den
in the upper timber-lot! . . . Hey, yew, Ran . . . dee!”
of Unknown Kadath
The Council of Sages, recognising the visitor,
offered a gourd of
fermented sap from a haunted tree unlike the others, which had grown
from a seed dropt down by someone on the moon; and as Carter drank it
ceremoniously a very strange colloquy began.
Rumours of the Great Ones came equally from all
points; and one might
only say that they were likelier to be seen on high mountain peaks than
in valleys, since on such peaks they dance reminiscently when the moon
is above and the clouds beneath.
Those manuscripts, he said, told much of the
gods; and besides, in
Ulthar there were men who had seen the signs of the gods, and even one
old priest who had scaled a great mountain to behold them dancing by
So Randolph Carter thanked the zoogs,
who fluttered amicably and gave him another gourd of moon-tree wine to
take with him, and set out through the phosphorescent wood for the
other side, where the rushing Skai flows down from the slopes of
Lerion, and Hatheg and Nir and Ulthar dot the plain.
At least twice in the world’s history the Other
Gods set their seal
upon earth’s primal granite; once in antediluvian times, as guessed
from a drawing in those parts of the Pnakotic Manuscripts too ancient
to be read, and once on Hatheg-Kla when Barzai the Wise tried to see
earth’s gods dancing by moonlight.
Then Carter did a wicked thing, offering
his guileless host so many draughts of the moon-wine which the zoogs
had given him that the old man became irresponsibly talkative. Robbed
of his reserve, poor Atal babbled freely of forbidden things; telling
of a great image reported by travellers as carved on the solid rock of
the mountain Ngranek, on the isle of Oriab in the Southern Sea, and
hinting that it may be a likeness which earth’s gods once wrought of
their own features in the days when they danced by moonlight on that
mountain. And he hiccoughed likewise that the features of that image
are very strange, so that one might easily recognise them, and that
they are sure signs of the authentic race of the gods.
Some of them stole off to those cryptical
realms which are known only
to cats and which villagers say are on the moon’s dark side, whither
the cats leap from tall housetops, but one small black kitten crept
upstairs and sprang in Carter’s lap to purr and play, and curled up
near his feet when he lay down at last on the little couch whose
pillows were stuffed with fragrant, drowsy herbs.
He bade him therefore be his own guest in
locked chambers above, and
drew out the last of the zoogs’ moon-wine to loosen his tongue.
But that offensive galley did not aim as
far as Carter had feared, for he soon saw that the helmsman was
steering a course directly for the moon. The moon was a crescent,
shining larger and larger as they approached it, and shewing its
singular craters and peaks uncomfortably. The ship made for the edge,
and it soon became clear that its destination was that secret and
mysterious side which is always turned away from the earth, and which
no fully human person, save perhaps the dreamer Snireth-Ko, has ever
beheld. The close aspect of the moon as the galley drew near proved
very disturbing to Carter, and he did not like the size and shape of
the ruins which crumbled here and there. The dead temples on the
mountains were so placed that they could have glorified no wholesome or
suitable gods, and in the symmetries of the broken columns there seemed
to lurk some dark and inner meaning which did not invite solution. And
what the structure and proportions of the olden worshippers could have
been, Carter steadily refused to conjecture.
As the coast drew nearer, and the hideous
stench of that city grew
stronger, he saw upon the jagged hills many forests, some of whose
trees he recognised as akin to that solitary moon-tree in the enchanted
wood of earth, from whose sap the small brown zoogs ferment their
It was night on the moon, and all through the
town were stationed
slaves bearing torches.
Verily, it is to the moon’s dark side that they
go to leap and gambol
on the hills and converse with ancient shadows, and here amidst that
column of foetid things Carter heard their homely, friendly cry, and
thought of the steep roofs and warm hearths and little lighted windows
At last awe and exhaustion closed his
eyes, and when he opened them again it was upon a strange scene. The
great shining disc of the earth, thirteen times greater than that of
the moon as we see it, had risen with floods of weird light over the
lunar landscape; and across all those leagues of wild plateau and
ragged crest there squatted one endless sea of cats in orderly array.
It was one of the army’s outposts, stationed on
the highest of the
mountains to watch the one foe which earth’s cats fear; the very large
and peculiar cats from Saturn, who for some reason have not been
oblivious of the charm of our moon’s dark side.
Then, upon a signal, the cats all leaped
gracefully with their friend
packed securely in their midst; while in a black cave on a far
unhallowed summit of the moon-mountains still vainly waited the
crawling chaos Nyarlathotep.
That night the moon was very bright, and
one could see a great way down in the water.
Then by the watery moonlight he noticed an odd
high monolith in the
middle of that central court, and saw that something was tied to it.
It was fortunate that the moon was not up, so
that all the cats were on
Many times the moon hears strange music as it
shines on those courts
and terraces and pinnacles, but whether that music be the song of the
god or the chant of the cryptical priests, none but the King of
Ilek-Vad may say; for only he has entered the temple or seen the
Spells of the Elder Ones keep those places
unharmed and undecayed, for
it is written that there may one day be need of them again; and
elephant caravans have glimpsed them from afar by moonlight, though
none dares approach them closely because of the guardians to which
their wholeness is due.
Then he knew what they were, and that they did
not wear any wigs or
headpieces after all. For the cryptic folk of Leng were of one race
with the uncomfortable merchants of the black galleys that traded
rubies at Dylath-Leen; those not quite human merchants who are the
slaves of the monstrous moon-things! They were indeed the same dark
folk who had shanghaied Carter on their noisome galley so long ago, and
whose kith he had seen driven in herds about the unclean wharves of
that accursed lunar city, with the leaner ones toiling and the fatter
ones taken away in crates for other needs of their polypous and
amorphous masters. Now he saw where such ambiguous creatures came from,
and shuddered at the thought that Leng must be known to these formless
abominations from the moon.
It seemed likely that this merchant had caused
his former capture by
the slaves of the moon-things in Dylath-Leen, and that he now meant to
do what the rescuing cats had baffled; taking the victim to some dread
rendezvous with monstrous Nyarlathotep and telling with what boldness
the seeking of unknown Kadath had been tried.
There were scenes of old wars, wherein Leng’s
almost-humans fought with
the bloated purple spiders of the neighbouring vales; and there were
scenes also of the coming of the black galleys from the moon, and of
the submission of Leng’s people to the polypous and amorphous
blasphemies that hopped and floundered and wriggled out of them. Those
slippery greyish-white blasphemies they worshipped as gods, nor ever
complained when scores of their best and fatted males were taken away
in the black galleys. The monstrous moon-beasts made their camp on a
jagged isle in the sea, and Carter could tell from the frescoes that
this was none other than the lone nameless rock he had seen when
sailing to Inganok; that grey accursed rock which Inganok’s seamen
shun, and from which vile howlings reverberate all through the night.
Beyond was the oily lapping of the harbour
water with a great ship
riding at anchor, and Carter paused in stark terror when he saw that
the ship was indeed one of the dreaded black galleys from the moon.
[I skipped over repeated use of the term
"moon-beasts" in this section
and from here on. "Moon-wine" also.]
This time, however, the unseen rowers steered
not for the moon but for
antique Sarkomand; bent evidently on taking their captives before the
high-priest not to be described.
“When Barzai the Wise climbed Hatheg-Kla
to see the Great Ones dance and howl above the clouds in the moonlight
he never returned.
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
In the middle of a
moonlight January night with heavy snow underfoot
there resounded over the river and up the hill a shocking series of
cries which brought sleepy heads to every window; and people around
Weybosset Point saw a great white thing plunging frantically along the
badly cleared space in front of the Turk’s Head.
They were the
pointed Saxon minuscules of the eighth or ninth century
A.D., and brought with them memories of an uncouth time when under a
fresh Christian veneer ancient faiths and ancient rites stirred
stealthily, and the pale moon of Britain looked sometimes on strange
deeds in the Roman ruins of Caerleon and Hexham, and by the towers
along Hadrian’s crumbling wall.
The Colour Out
There had been a moon, and a rabbit had run
across the road, and the
leaps of that rabbit were longer than either Ammi or his horse liked.
It was then that they all owned that Thaddeus
had been right about the
trees. Mrs. Gardner was the next to see it from the window as she
watched the swollen boughs of a maple against a moonlit sky.
Twilight had now fallen, and lanterns
were brought from the house. Then, when it was seen that nothing
further could be gained from the well, everyone went indoors and
conferred in the ancient sitting-room while the intermittent light of a
spectral half-moon played wanly on the grey desolation outside.
It was the coroner, seated near a window
overlooking the yard, who first noticed the glow about the well. Night
had fully set in, and all the abhorrent grounds seemed faintly luminous
with more than the fitful moonbeams; but this new glow was something
definite and distinct, and appeared to shoot up from the black pit like
a softened ray from a searchlight, giving dull reflections in the
little ground pools where the water had been emptied.
No one will ever know what was abroad that
night; and though the
blasphemy from beyond had not so far hurt any human of unweakened mind,
there is no telling what it might not have done at that last moment,
and with its seemingly increased strength and the special signs of
purpose it was soon to display beneath the half-clouded moonlit sky.
They were twitching morbidly and spasmodically,
clawing in convulsive
and epileptic madness at the moonlit clouds; scratching impotently in
the noxious air as if jerked by some alien and bodiless line of linkage
with subterrene horrors writhing and struggling below the black roots.
Not a man breathed for several seconds.
Then a cloud of darker depth passed over the moon, and the silhouette
of clutching branches faded out momentarily.
Words could not convey it—when Ammi looked out
again the hapless beast
lay huddled inert on the moonlit ground between the splintered shafts
of the buggy.
The moon went under some very black clouds as
they crossed the rustic
bridge over Chapman’s Brook, and it was blind groping from there to the
It shrieked and howled, and lashed the fields
and distorted woods in a
mad cosmic frenzy, till soon the trembling party realised it would be
no use waiting for the moon to shew what was left down there at Nahum’s.
The Very Old Folk
We began to march
in the new dusk, with the thin silver sickle of a
young moon trembling over the woods on our left.
An open window shewed black and gaping in the
Against the moon vast clouds of feathery
watchers rose and raced from
sight, frantic at that which they had sought for prey.
The Whisperer in Darkness
Once a specimen
was seen flying—launching itself from the top of a
bald, lonely hill at night and vanishing in the sky after its great
flapping wings had been silhouetted an instant against the full moon.
I could see that
he was getting more and more anxious, for he went into
much detail about the increased barking of the dogs on moonless nights,
and about the fresh claw-prints he sometimes found in the road and in
the mud at the back of his farmyard when morning came.
barking of the dogs whenever the moon was dim or absent
was hideous now, and there had been attempts to molest him on the
lonely roads he had to traverse by day.
He spoke of
the death of more dogs and
the purchase of still others, and of the exchange of gunfire which had
become a settled feature each moonless night.
He was not very
optimistic, though, and expressed the belief that it
was only the full moon season which was holding the creatures off. He
hoped there would not be many densely cloudy nights, and talked vaguely
of boarding in Brattleboro when the moon waned.
discouraging P.S. to my last. Last night was thickly cloudy—though no
rain—and not a bit of moonlight got through.
break, so no moon again—and going into the wane anyhow.
Cloudy nights keep
up, and moon waning all the time.
contact with the utterly bizarre
is often more terrifying than inspiring, and it did not cheer me to
think that this very bit of dusty road was the place where those
monstrous tracks and that foetid green ichor had been found after
moonless nights of fear and death.
falling now, and as I recalled
what Akeley had written me about those earlier nights I shuddered to
think there would be no moon.
I actually managed
to get out of that room and that house without
making any further noise, to drag myself and my belongings safely into
the old Ford in the shed, and to set that archaic vehicle in motion
toward some unknown point of safety in the black, moonless night.
Mountains of Madness
Their original place of advent to the planet
was the Antarctic Ocean,
and it is likely that they came not long after the matter forming the
moon was wrenched from the neighbouring South Pacific.
It seems that there was one part of the ancient
land—the first part
that ever rose from the waters after the earth had flung off the moon
and the Old Ones had seeped down from the stars—which had come to be
shunned as vaguely and namelessly evil.
As it was, however, the noise shattered all our
adjustments—all our tacit acceptance of the inner antarctic as a waste
as utterly and irrevocably void of every vestige of normal life as the
sterile disc of the moon.
He has on rare occasions whispered
disjointed and irresponsible things about “the black pit”, “the carven
rim”, “the proto-shoggoths”, “the windowless solids with five
dimensions”, “the nameless cylinder”, “the elder pharos”,
“Yog-Sothoth”, “the primal white jelly”, “the colour out of space”,
“the wings”, “the eyes in darkness”, “the moon-ladder”, “the original,
the eternal, the undying”, and other bizarre conceptions; but when he
is fully himself he repudiates all this and attributes it to his
curious and macabre reading of earlier years.
The Shadow Over Innsmouth
depressingly few and small—all low-powered incandescents—and
I was glad that my plans called for departure before dark, even though
I knew the moon would be bright.
Haow abaout the
night I took my pa’s ship’s glass up to the cupalo an’
seed the reef a-bristlin’ thick with shapes that dove off quick soon’s
the moon riz?
As I thought of
these things I looked out over the squalid sea of
decaying roofs below me, now brightened by the beams of a moon not much
past full. [...] On the left the creek-threaded countryside was nearer,
the narrow road to Ipswich gleaming white in the moonlight. I could not
see from my side of the hotel the southward route toward Arkham which I
had determined to take.
Outside, the moon
played on the ridgepole of the block below, and I saw
that the jump would be desperately hazardous because of the steep
surface on which I must land.
The moonbeams did
not reach down here, but I could just see my way
about without using the flashlight.
I was now in
Washington Street, and for the moment saw no living thing
nor any light save that of the moon.
Though I had never
seen this space, it had looked dangerous to me on
the grocery youth’s map; since the moonlight would have free play there.
The open space
was, as I had expected, strongly moonlit; and I saw the
remains of a park-like, iron-railed green in its centre.
[...] South Street was very wide, leading directly down a slight
declivity to the waterfront and commanding a long view out at sea; and
I hoped that no one would be glancing up it from afar as I crossed in
the bright moonlight.
was unimpeded, and no fresh
sound arose to hint that I had been spied. Glancing about me, I
involuntarily let my pace slacken for a second to take in the sight of
the sea, gorgeous in the burning moonlight at the street’s end.
What the whole
proceeding meant, I could not imagine; unless it
involved some strange rite connected with Devil Reef, or unless some
party had landed from a ship on that sinister rock. I now bent to the
left around the ruinous green; still gazing toward the ocean as it
blazed in the spectral summer moonlight, and watching the cryptical
flashing of those nameless, unexplainable beacons.
For at a closer
glance I saw that the moonlit waters between the reef
and the shore were far from empty.
I paused and drew
into a gaping doorway, reflecting how lucky I was to
have left the moonlit open space before these pursuers came down the
The open space
ahead shone wide and desolate under the moon, but my
route would not force me to cross it.
Two of the figures
I glimpsed were in voluminous robes, and one wore a
peaked diadem which glistened whitely in the moonlight.
As they reached
the broad open space where I had had my first
disquieting glimpse of the moonlit water I could see them plainly only
a block away—and was horrified by the bestial abnormality of their
faces and the dog-like sub-humanness of their crouching gait.
To this day I do
not know whether they saw me or not. If they did, my
stratagem must have deceived them, for they passed on across the
moonlit space without varying their course—meanwhile croaking and
jabbering in some hateful guttural patois I could not identify.
I was glad to see
the moonlight again when I emerged from that macabre
The ancient spires
and roofs of decaying Innsmouth gleamed lovely and
ethereal in the magic yellow moonlight, and I thought of how they must
have looked in the old days before the shadow fell.
The distance was
great, and I could distinguish nothing in detail; but
I did not at all like the look of that moving column. It undulated too
much, and glistened too brightly in the rays of the now westering moon.
I saw the close
moonlit space where they would surge by, and had
curious thoughts about the irredeemable pollution of that space.
Then I knew that a
long section of them must be plainly in sight where
the sides of the cut flattened out and the road crossed the track—and I
could no longer keep myself from sampling whatever horror that leering
yellow moon might have to shew.
And yet I saw them
in a limitless stream—flopping, hopping, croaking,
bleating—surging inhumanly through the spectral moonlight in a
grotesque, malignant saraband of fantastic nightmare.
The Thing on
When Edward called on me after the honeymoon I
thought he looked
The Shadow Out of Time
Once in a while,
though, there would be glimpses of the sun—which
looked abnormally large—and of the moon, whose markings held a touch of
difference from the normal that I could never quite fathom. When—very
rarely—the night sky was clear to any extent, I beheld constellations
which were nearly beyond recognition. Known outlines were sometimes
approximated, but seldom duplicated; and from the position of the few
groups I could recognise, I felt I must be in the earth’s southern
hemisphere, near the Tropic of Capricorn.
There was a mind
from the planet we know as Venus, which would live
incalculable epochs to come, and one from an outer moon of Jupiter six
million years in the past.
It was on the
evening of July 11th, when a gibbous moon flooded the
mysterious hillocks with a curious pallor. Wandering somewhat beyond my
usual limits, I came upon a great stone which seemed to differ markedly
from any we had yet encountered. It was almost wholly covered, but I
stooped and cleared away the sand with my hands, later studying the
object carefully and supplementing the moonlight with my electric torch.
The moon, slightly
past full, shone from a clear sky and drenched the
ancient sands with a white, leprous radiance which seemed to me somehow
It was just past
five, with the bloated, fungoid moon sinking in the
west, when I staggered into camp—hatless, tattered, features scratched
and ensanguined, and without my electric torch.
were only the desert and the evil moon and the shards
of an unguessed past. I drew close and paused, and cast the added light
of my electric torch over the tumbled pile.
From the very
outset I realised that there was some utterly
unprecedented quality about these stones. Not only was the mere number
of them quite without parallel, but something in the sand-worn traces
of design arrested me as I scanned them under the mingled beams of the
moon and my torch.
Instantly, as once
before, my visions faded, and I saw again only the
evil moonlight, the brooding desert, and the spreading tumulus of
A black rift began
to yawn, and at length—when I had pushed away every
fragment small enough to budge—the leprous moonlight blazed on an
aperture of ample width to admit me.
Behind and high
above, a faint luminous blur told of the distant
moonlit world outside.
No need now, I
thought with a shudder, to keep that faint blur of
moonlight in view.
Then there came a
dream of wind-pursued climbing and crawling—of
wriggling into a blaze of sardonic moonlight through a jumble of debris
which slid and collapsed after me amidst a morbid hurricane. It was the
evil, monotonous beating of that maddening moonlight which at last told
me of the return of what I had once known as the objective, waking
The daemon wind
died down, and the bloated, fungoid moon sank
reddeningly in the west.
The Haunter of
In the ruined desk was a small
leather-bound record-book filled with entries in some odd cryptographic
medium. The manuscript writing consisted of the common traditional
symbols used today in astronomy and anciently in alchemy, astrology,
and other dubious arts—the devices of the sun, moon, planets, aspects,
and zodiacal signs—here massed in solid pages of text, with divisions
and paragraphings suggesting that each symbol answered to some
Interestingly, the moon is left out of a great many of the
collaborations and revisions, which goes a way toward any case that
might be made for or against authorship, I suppose (But not here; I
don't have the time). These collaborations lack reference to the
The Last Test (with Adolphe de Castro)
And then there are these in which the moon is
The Electric Executioner (with Adolphe de
Medusa’s Coil (with Zealia Bishop)
The Horror in the Museum (with Hazel Heald)
Winged Death (with Hazel Heald)
The Horror in the Burying-Ground (with Hazel
The Green Meadow (with Winifred V. Jackson)
The Tree on the Hill (with Duane W. Rimel)
The Battle that Ended the Century (with R. H.
The Diary of Alonzo Typer (with William Lumley)
The Challenge from Beyond (with C. L. Moore; A.
Merritt; Robert E.
Howard, and Frank Belknap Long)
The Trap (with Henry S. Whitehead)
The Dreams in the Witch House
The Man of Stone (with Hazel Heald)
Poetry and the Gods
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.
heavy-lidded Buddhas dream
To the sound
of the cuckoo’s call. . . .
wings of moon-butterflies
the streets of the city,
into silence the useless wicks of round
lanterns in the hands of girls.
Moon over the
petals slowly in the warmth of heaven. .
The air is
full of odours
languorous warm sounds. . . .
drones its insect music to the night
curving moon-petal of the heavens.
Moon over China,
on the river of the sky,
The stir of
light in the willows is like the
flashing of a thousand silver minnows
The tiles on
graves and rotting temples flash like
The sky is
flecked with clouds like the scales of a
Moon over the
petals slowly in the warmth of heaven.
The air is
full of odours
languorous warm sounds . . . languorous warm
Moon over China,
on the river of the sky . . . weary moon!”
And under a ghastly moon there gleamed sights I
can never describe,
sights I can never forget; deserts of corpse-like clay and jungles of
ruin and decadence where once stretched the populous plains and
villages of my native land, and maelstroms of frothing ocean where once
rose the mighty temples of my forefathers.
The moon laid pale lilies of light on dead
London, and Paris stood up
from its damp grave to be sanctified with star-dust.
In one delirious flash and burst it happened;
one blinding, deafening
holocaust of fire, smoke, and thunder that dissolved the wan moon as it
sped outward to the void.
The Horror at Martin's Beach
It was in the
twilight, when grey sea-birds hovered low near the shore
and a rising moon began to make a glittering path across the waters.
There is no exact
record of the time the thing began, although a
majority say that the fairly round moon was “about a foot” above the
low-lying vapors of the horizon. They mention the moon because what
they saw seemed subtly connected with it—a sort of stealthy,
deliberate, menacing ripple which rolled in from the far skyline along
the shimmering lane of reflected moonbeams, yet which seemed to subside
before it reached the shore.
There they stood
in the pallid moonlight, blindly pulling against a
spectral doom and swaying monotonously backward and forward as the
water rose first to their knees, then to their hips. The moon went
partly under a cloud, and in the half-light the line of swaying men
resembled some sinister and gigantic centipede, writhing in the clutch
of a terrible creeping death.
Thicker clouds now
passed over the ascending moon, and the glittering
path on the waters faded nearly out.
It was the end of
the storm, for with uncanny suddenness the rain
ceased and the moon once more cast her pallid beams on a strangely
Moon-madness? A touch of fever? I wish I could
Outside, it was already growing lighter-for
there was a full moon
behind the clouds-and the rain had dwindled to a trivial drizzle.
The storm was over, and as I entered the room
assigned me I found it
bright with the rays of a full moon that streamed on the bed from an
uncurtained south window. Blowing out the lamp and leaving the house in
darkness but for the moonbeams, I sniffed at the pungent odor that rose
above the scent of the kerosene - the quasi-animal odor I had noticed
on first entering the place.
The door opened, and into the shaft of
moonlight stepped a man I had
never seen before. [...] As I gazed intently at him in the insidious
moonbeams it seemed to me that I could see directly through his sturdy
form; but perhaps this was only an illusion that came from my shock of
Then into that shaft of eerie moonlight stepped
the gaunt form of a
great gray wolf.
The animal crouched quivering, and then - as
the ethereal figure
uttered a shriek of mortal human anguish and terror that no ghost of
legend could counterfeit - sprang straight for its victim's throat, its
white, firm, even teeth flashing in the moonlight as they closed on the
jugular vein of the screaming phantasm.
"And last night was full moon!... My Gawd!" He
eyed me curiously. "See
anything of Vasili Oukranikov or the Count?""Say, do I look that
simple? What are you trying to do - jolly
me?"But his tone was as grave as a priest's as he replied. "You must be
to these parts, sonny. If you weren't you'd know all about Devil's
Woods and the full moon and Vasili and the rest."
It was the night of the full moon.
And folks do say that at every full moon - but
sonny, didn't you see or
The Loved Dead
My seat is the
foetid hollow of an aged grave; my desk is the back of a
fallen tombstone worn smooth by devastating centuries; my only light is
that of the stars and a thin-edged moon, yet I can see as clearly as
though it were mid-day.
The razor! It has
nestled forgotten in my pocket since my flight from
Bayboro. Its blood-stained blade gleams oddly in the waning light of
the thin-edged moon.
Sullenly each belligerent composed his wrath
and his attire; and with
an assumption of dignity as profound as it was sudden, the two formed a
curious pact of honour which I soon learned is a custom of great
antiquity in Cairo—a pact for the settlement of their difference by
means of a nocturnal fist fight atop the Great Pyramid, long after the
departure of the last moonlight sightseer.
The fight itself promised to be unique and
spectacular, while the
thought of the scene on that hoary pile overlooking the antediluvian
plateau of Gizeh under the wan moon of the pallid small hours appealed
to every fibre of imagination in me.
Slightly over two hours were consumed by the
trip, toward the end of
which we passed the last of the returning tourists, saluted the last
in-bound trolley-car, and were alone with the night and the past and
the spectral moon.
I recalled that the Arabs whisper things about
Nitokris, and shun the
Third Pyramid at certain phases of the moon.
On this eerie pinnacle a squared circle was
formed, and in a few
moments the sardonic desert moon leered down upon a battle which, but
for the quality of the ringside cries, might well have occurred at some
minor athletic club in America.
I knew that the darkness around me was wholly
or nearly total, since no
ray of moonlight penetrated my blindfold; but I did not trust my senses
enough to accept as evidence of extreme depth the sensation of vast
duration which had characterised my descent.
Two Black Bottles
Light from a dim
moon, just risen, made objects below barely visible.
The moon was now
well up in the sky, and by its light I could see that
the fresh cross above Vanderhoof’s grave had completely fallen.
Turning, I glanced
back toward the church. Its wall reflected the light
of the moon, and silhouetted against it was a gigantic, loathsome,
black shadow climbing from my uncle’s grave and floundering gruesomely
toward the church.
Old wives say that
now, when the moon is full, there walks about the
churchyard a gigantic and bewildered figure clutching a bottle and
seeking some unremembered goal.
The Last Test
So she left him—the strange, moonstruck,
star-reading genius she had
mothered so long—and the picture she carried away was a very merciful
The Thing in the Moonlight
At length I
emerg’d upon a table-land of moss-grown rock & scanty
soil, lit up by a faint moonlight which had replac’d the expiring orb
Presently I heard
a swishing in the sparse grass toward the left, and
saw the dark forms of two men looming up in the moonlight.
Then one of them
sniffed with singular sharpness, and raised his face
to howl to the moon.
The Curse of Yig
Capable at last of conscious motion, she shook
the covers from her face
and looked into the darkness toward the window. It must have cleared
after the moon set, for she saw the square aperture distinctly against
the background of stars.
Only a couple of
years ago a British author spoke of Arizona as a
“moon-dim region, very lovely in its way, and stark and old—an ancient,
happened by moonlight, and frightened his horse as well as
When the moon was
bright the squaw’s peculiar figure could be seen
fairly plainly, and over half the villagers agreed that the apparition
from the frame house to the
quiet side street or lane, and walked a few paces in the light of a
waning August moon to where the houses were thinner. The half-moon was
still low, and had not blotted many stars from the sky; so that I could
see not only the westering gleams of Altair and Vega, but the mystic
shimmering of the Milky Way, as I looked out over the vast expanse of
earth and sky in the direction that Compton pointed. Then all at once I
saw a spark that was not a star—a bluish spark that moved and glimmered
against the Milky Way near the horizon, and that seemed in a vague way
more evil and malevolent than anything in the vault above.
“‘Oh, Frank, is that really all you care
about? Forever working! Can’t we just sit out in this glorious
“He answered impatiently, his voice
shewing a certain contempt beneath the dominant quality of artistic
“‘Moonlight! Good God, what cheap
sentimentality! For a supposedly sophisticated person you surely do
hang on to some of the crudest claptrap that ever escaped from the dime
novels! With art at your elbow, you have to think of the moon—cheap as
a spotlight at the varieties!
The Man of Stone
There ought to be
some excuse for offering a new drink—though it won’t
take much planning to fool those moonstruck nincompoops.
Gates of the Silver Key
“Can’t somebody shut that old fool up? We’ve
had enough of these
He had wished to find the enchanted regions of
his boyhood dreams,
where galleys sail up the river Oukranos past the gilded spires of
Thran, and elephant caravans tramp through perfumed jungles in Kled
beyond forgotten palaces with veined ivory columns that sleep lovely
and unbroken under the moon.
Faced with this realisation, Randolph Carter
reeled in the clutch of
supreme horror—horror such as had not been hinted even at the climax of
that hideous night when two had ventured into an ancient and abhorred
necropolis under a waning moon and only one had emerged.
Out of the Aeons
It was in the Year
of the Red Moon (estimated as B. C. 173,148 by von
Junzt) that a human being first dared to breathe defiance against
Ghatanothoa and its nameless menace.
The Hoard of
There had been no accountings since Kishan the
old keeper had died many
moon-turns before, and great was Yalden’s dismay to find this emptiness
instead of the expected wealth.
The Slaying of the Monster
With the coming of
night they began marching in ragged columns into the
foot-hills beneath the fulgent lunar rays. Ahead a burning cloud shone
clearly through the purple dusk, a guide to their goal.
For the sake
of truth it is to be
recorded that their spirits sank low long ere they sighted the foe, and
as the moon grew dim and the coming of the dawn was heralded by gaudy
clouds they wished themselves more than ever at home, dragon or no
dragon. But as the sun rose they cheered up slightly, and shifting
their spears, resolutely trudged the remaining distance.
Till A’the Seas
He staggered up, not looking at the dim white
form in the reflected
moonlight, and went through the door.
Earth, like its cold, imperturbable moon, was
given over to silence and
reality of the visions disturbed me most of all: it seemed
that some inside influence was inducing the grisly vistas of moonlit
tombstones and endless catacombs of the restless dead.
chilly evening when the candles had been extinguished, and
a pale shaft of moonlight fell through the dark curtains upon my bed, I
determined to rise and carry out my plan of action.
Seeing no other
heavy objects in the room, I seized from the table the
huge candelabrum, upon which the moon shone with a pallid glow, and
proceeded very quietly toward the laboratory door.
half-way in the moonlight through the large window, and his
greasy features were creased in a drunken smirk.
No lamps were
burning, and my only light was a filtering of moonbeams
coming from the narrow windows in the hall.
For a moment I
stood in the shadow of the giant stone manor, viewing
the moonlit trail down which I must go to reach the home of my
forefathers, only a quarter of a mile distant.
only a few rods away in the moonlight, stood the
venerable mansion where my ancestors had lived and died.
As I approached
the moonlit spot the old familiarity—so absent during
my abnormal existence—returned to plague me in a wholly unexpected way.
In the Walls of
I was still groping about when the dusk became
total. A heavy mist
obscured most of the stars and planets, but the earth was plainly
visible as a glowing, bluish-green point in the southeast. It was just
past opposition, and would have been a glorious sight in a telescope. I
could even make out the moon beside it whenever the vapours momentarily
The Night Ocean
In the absence of
the moon, this light made a solid bar athwart the
walls of the uneasy tide; and I felt an indescribable emotion born of
the noise of the waters and the perception of my inconceivable
smallness as I cast that tiny beam upon a realm immense in itself, yet
only the black border of the earthly deep.
Darkness came as I
sat with a cigarette before the seaward window, and
it was a liquid which gradually filled the sky, washing in a floating
moon, monstrously elevated. The flat sea bordering upon the gleaming
sand, the utter absence of tree or figure or life of any sort, and the
regard of that high moon made the vastness of my surroundings abruptly
clear. There were only a few stars pricking through, as if to
accentuate by their smallness the majesty of the lunar orb and of the
restless, shifting tide.
In what place this
mystery turned from an ancient, horrible slumber I
could not tell, but like one who stands by a figure lost in sleep,
knowing that it will awake in a moment, I crouched by the windows,
holding a nearly burnt-out cigarette, and faced the rising moon.
Where any of them
did remain they were ebon and blank: still lumps of
darkness sprawling beneath the cruel brilliant rays. The endless
tableau of the lunar orb—dead now, whatever her past was, and cold as
the unhuman sepulchres she bears amid the ruin of dusty centuries older
than man—and the sea—astir, perhaps, with some unkenned life, some
forbidden sentience—confronted me with a horrible vividness.
I had set the lamp
upon a box in the western corner of the room, but
the moon was brighter, and her bluish rays invaded places where the
lamplight was faint.
And yet there was
nothing which I might fear: the moon-chiselled
shadows were unnatural in no contour, and veiled nothing from my eyes.
watched, dread-filled and passive,
with the fixed stare of one who awaits death in another yet knows he
cannot avert it, the swimmer approached the shore—though too far down
the southward beach for me to discern its outlines or features.
Obscurely loping, with sparks of moonlit foam scattered by its quick
gait, it emerged and was lost among the inland dunes.
Yet for me there
is a haunting and inscrutable glamour in all the
ocean’s moods. It is in the melancholy silver foam beneath the moon’s
waxen corpse; it hovers over the silent and eternal waves that beat on
naked shores; it is there when all is lifeless save for unknown shapes
that glide through sombre depths.
And these shall
beat on dark shores in thunderous foam, though none
shall remain in that dying world to watch the cold light of the
enfeebled moon playing on the swirling tides and coarse-grained sand.
Then all shall be
dark, for at last even the white moon on the distant
waves shall wink out.
That something was a sudden gust of wind,
sprung from nowhere amidst
the calm night, which unfastened the shutter of the nearest window,
throwing it back with a shivery slam and uncovering to my actual waking
glance the antique cemetery itself, brooding spectrally beneath an
early morning moon.
For no sooner had my eyes compassed the
moonlight scene than I became
aware of a fresh omen, this time too unmistakable to be classed as an
empty phantasm, which arose from among the gleaming tombs across the
And as it stood there, faintly quivering in the
damp night air under
that unwholesome moon, I saw that its aspect was that of the pallid and
gigantic dial of a distorted clock.
I was mute and paralyzed, yet agonizingly aware
of every unnatural
sight and sound in that devastating, moon-cursed stillness.
The Sorcery of Aphlar
Had not the last
exiled wise man’s screams rent the night two
moon-rounds before when people thought him safely gone?
On moonlit nights
he climbed the hill above his cave and made strange
offerings to the moon-God Ale; arid when the night-birds heard the
sound they drew close and listened to the whispering. And when queer
winged things flapped across the darkened sky and loomed up dimly
against the moon Aphlar was content.
That night the
gibbous moon rose high, but Aphlar did not climb above
his dwelling. Queer night-birds flew past the cavern’s mouth, chirped
eerily, and fled away into the shadows.
This is perhaps the most neglected area on this page as I don't have a
complete compilation of Lovecraft's poetry, but there are a great many
instances in just the few examples I do have on hand.
Ode to Selene
Immortal Moon, in maiden splendour shine.
Unda; or, The Bride of the Sea
Once when the
moonlight play’d soft ’mid the billows,
High climb’d the
moon, and descended again.
Lo! the red moon
from the ocean’s low hazes
Straight from the
moon to the shore where I’m sighing
What is yon face
in the moonlight appearing;
Far on the
moon-path I seek the sweet face.
An American to
A golden moon bewitching radiance yields,
And England’s fairies trip o’er England’s
The Poe-et’s Nightmare
A smile lights up
his boyish face, whilst he
Dreams of the
moon—or what he ate at tea.
Thro’ the ghoul-guarded gateways of
the wan-moon’d abysses of night,
I have liv’d o’er my lives without
have sounded all things with my sight;
And I struggle and shriek ere the daybreak,
being driven to madness
The Nightmare Lake
Here shines by day
the searing sun
On glassy wastes
beheld by none,
And here by night
pale moonbeams flow
Into the deeps
that yawn below.
While in the lurid
sky there rode
A gibbous moon
that glow’d and glow’d.
I saw the
stretching marshy shore,
And the foul
things those marshes bore:
And as the
dreadful moon climb’d high,
stars from out the sky,
I saw the lake’s
dull water glow
Till sunken things
those tombs a heaving rose
That vex’d the
waters’ dull repose,
shades of upper space
Howl’d at the
moon’s sardonic face.
I see that
lake—that moon agrin—
That city and the
Waking, I pray
that on that shore
The nightmare lake
may sink no more!
A Poem of
In the evening, by the moonlight, you can hear
those darkies singing
Meet me tonight in dreamland . . . BAH
Legions of cats
from the alleys nocturnal,
lean in the glare of the
future with mouthings infernal,
burden of Pluto’s red rune.
blackly against the moon totter,
whose mouths are by mosses
And living to
answer the wind and the water,
lean cats that howl in the
Hallowe’en in a
The steeples are white in the wild moonlight,
And the trees have a silver glare;
Past the chimneys high see the vampires fly,
And the harpies of upper air,
That flutter and laugh and stare.
For the village dead to the moon outspread
Never shone in the sunset’s gleam,
But grew out of the deep that the dead years
Where the rivers of madness stream
Down the gulfs to a pit of dream.
So here again stretch the vale and plain
That moons long-forgotten saw,
And the dead leap gay in the pallid ray,
Sprung out of the tomb’s black maw
To shake all the world with awe.
A grudging moon
writhed up to shine
where life can have no home;
far-off tower and dome,
unwindowed and malign.
I knew what
shadows would be cast
When the late moon
came up at last
From back of
Zaman’s Hill, and how
The vale would
shine three hours from now.