Hey, it’s December 2nd, how’d that happen? For a while now, I’ve taken the holiday season as an opportunity to share some of Lovecraft’s more seasonal, often strange, and always festive poetry. I even put a handy guide together last year. Many of these poems are filled with inside jokes and were written for specific individuals (and sometimes cats.)
But there was one poem that, until recently, I hadn’t been able to track down. Lovecraft’s 1918 verse: To the A.H.S.P.C., on Receipt of the Christmas Pippin—hplovecraft.com, my go-to respiratory didn’t have it, and it wasn’t in any of the books in my collections. After some searching, I finally found a copy on the Hungarian site hplovecraft.hu and I present it here as written.
To the A.H.S.P.C., on Receipt
of the Christmas Pippin
Like some astronomer, whose dazzled gaze
Looks for a star, but finds the moon’s bright rays,
The carping critick trembles with surprise
As the new Pippin greets his awestruck eyes!
Precocious train, whose infant genius glows
In faultless verse and Addisonian prose;
Whose countless talents scintillate and shine
Thro’ polish’d paragraph and lustrous line;
What ag’d assemblage can compare with you?—
Your gifts so many, yet your years so few!
High o’er the band euphonious HARPER tow’rs,
Blest with a poet’s and a cynic’s pow’rs;
Who can with equal skill and vigour shew
A press club’s virtues, and November’s snow,
And hold with majesty the office of a MOE.
Not less in altitude, nor less in wit,
See mighty GALPIN on his dais sit;
Swiftest of bards, whose hasting pen can trace
Impromptu numbers—foremost in the race!
From him we turn to THAYER—refulgent star—
(Tho’ inter nos methinks we turn not far:)
Experience gleams thro’ each pathetic verse—
O leer ye not—some day you’ll suffer worse!
But see!—above the present’s tawdry theme
Soars a fleet WING, with high auspicious dream;
Prophetic singer! ere thy lines are done,
Rejoicing Freedom views the vanquish’d Hun!
All hail, FRANCISCO, who canst rhyme so well
Of the once-potent autocrat of h***:
Proud Lucifer a rival King must own,
Who keeps his evil, tho’ he lose his throne!
Now comes the prose, but sure, the change is slight
When we behold YEED’S ethereal flight:
With airy grace she sails celestial deeps,
And finds the wealth that pleasing Fancy keeps.
More fancy shines as we admiring look
At Santa’s tale—Pieria’s undamm’d brook;
With tranquil tide the stream melodious flows,
And poesy beams thro’ the faultless prose.
The page now blazes with collegiate fire,
As M. PATRICIA smites the sounding lyre;
In classic halls a virtuous phantom see,
To mould the lives of heroes soon to be!
Christmas again! This time a RYAN’S quill
Describes the w. k. season of good will;
Each reader praises, as his eyes behold
A noble theme, and classic style, unroll’d.
Such are the parts—what language can we find
To sing the merits of the whole combin’d?
Superlatives in vain the critick tries
In praise of aught so witty and so wise
Old age, with friendly grandpaternal glance,
Surveys each prodigy in swift advance:
If in the youthful mind such art appears,
What heights of glory wait your riper years?
As far as Lovecraftian holiday verse goes, it’s not my favorite (that honor goes to Yule Horror.) I have no idea why “hell” is censored when he uses it freely in other work. (Call of Cthulhu comes to mind, among others.) Maybe the AHSPC was more prudish?
For those wondering: a “pippin” is a type of apple, not a 90s NBA star. I’m guessing the capitalized words are names calling out members of the AHSPC. Galpin shows up in other works as well (and was reportedly the inspiration for Old Bugs.) Lovecraft didn’t stop with this poem, he also wrote a similar one thanking the AHSPC for the May Pippin. Because of course.
All this and much much more is collected in S. T. Joshi’s The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft so if you’re hankering for more of Lovecraft’s weird verse, it’s a solid collection and a good place to start (and end actually, it has everything.)
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