Richard Ely Morse (1909-1986) worked mostly as a librarian at Princeton University. He earned his… “B.L.S. from Columbia University School of Library Service in 1932”, so when Lovecraft first knew him he was a new 23 year-old graduate. In 1968 Deke Quarterly stated that… “In his career he worked at the Princeton University Library, The Library of Congress, and the library of the Cooper Union Museum in New York” [being the Museum Librarian there from c.1936 until he resigned c.1949]”.
He published a volume of poetry titled Winter Garden in 1931, and he inscribed a copy for Lovecraft. The inscription is given in An H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia. On noting the volume’s publication, Morse’s fraternity magazine remarked: “He is president of the poetry society and editor in chief of the literary magazine [at Amherst].” Today at nearby Deerfield, which appears to be a feeder school for Amherst College, there is a current… “Richard Ely Morse ’26 Fund. Established in 1992 by Richard E. Morse ’26, this fund supports students who are proficient in music, art or literature.”
Morse was published in the Dial (Sept 1927), in The Best Poems of 1928 (“The Swan”), and his poetry can be found in the little magazines as late as 1967. Here is part of his “The Swan” (original line breaks missing due to OCR)…
“HIS swan, upon the icy waters of my heart, sails night and day; reflected amid the drift of tarnished wood-leaves, desolate and gray. Bending his plumed, silver-shining neck he seeks in baffled love that shadowed apparition always vanishing from him above. And now he moves his head in spectral bitterness, to assuage his pain darting it beneath the calm of silver that shatters and forms again. There is no escape, only the mocking image of the mirrored swan beneath him sails, under a moon long turned to stone, for ever on….” (from “The Swan”).
An online forum comment mentioned that… “He [Lovecraft] certainly did observe it [homosexuality] in persons he was introduced to by way of Samuel Loveman (e.g. Richard Ely Morse)”. On this see I Am Providence, p.827. Lovecraft and Morse had met face to face, rather than simply by correspondence, and were introduced by Loveman (known to have been a gay man) in May 1932.
Morse’s poem “Mad Dreams (for H.P. Lovecraft)” appeared in Fantasy Commentator Vol.7 No.1 (#41), 1990.
Three of Lovecraft’s letters to Morse are held at the Houghton Library, Harvard College Library. Another is in the British Museum. Letters to Morse are published in the Selected Letters. I have found that Morse had a letter, mentioning Lovecraft by name, published in The American Scholar (1949, Vol.18, p.231) — but I am unable to access more than a snippet via online methods. He contributed a poem to The Acolyte in 1942, “In Memoriam: H. P. Lovecraft” (collected in Marginalia).
Morse served as a corporal in the U.S. Army in 1942-1943. Possibly a search of Army records might reveal a photograph?
His entry in An H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia states he published an article “Some Modern Book Illustrations” in The Californian (Spring 1937). While at the Cooper Union Museum (c.1936-c.1949) he had contributed texts to exhibition catalogues such as “The Art and Technique of Modern Glass” and is also credited in the catalogue “Alter Ego: Masks, Their Art and Use”. He has a bibliography titled “Relating to Puppets, Marionettes and Shadow-Plays” in the Cooper Union Museum catalogue for “Small Wonders: Puppets and Marionettes” (c.1949). A few years later he wrote the text for Clowns and Ballerinas: The Circus and Dance in Art (1952), an exhibition catalogue for Princeton University Library. This exhibition may have been partly drawn from his own private collection, as he is said to have… “collected photographs, drawings, and prints relating to the commedia dell’arte and to the dance” (The Princeton University Library Chronicle) which he bequeathed to Princeton on his death. He had already donated “140 dance programs and souvenir booklets” to Princeton in 1966.