I think I may have found another new poem by Lovecraft. Not a macabre one this time, but rather a bit of early juvenilia. It’s the “Fore-worde” to his Hope Street High School yearbook for summer 1907, The Blue & White.
This “Fore-worde” is a poem of suspiciously archaic language, done flawlessly, and also has a characteristic Lovecraft touch in the coining of the neo-archaism “strange-froughte”. Who else but Lovecraft would write such a poem in the style of an 18th century wit, or insert such a phrase?
Neither the title or first line of the poem is in the latest edition of The Ancient Track. Nor is it in the Ancient Track‘s “Chronology”.
If the poem is a very early one by Lovecraft then it’s also interesting for implying that the author was on “ye humbell Boarde of Editours” in early summer 1907, which then leads one to wonder if he influenced the design on the cover. In which the tentacular flame seems to evoke (if you look at it right) a rather Lovecraftian version of a jinn to accompany the surrounding Aladdin’s lamps. If one knows that Lovecraft wore glasses at this time, the central ‘face’ could almost be a self-portrait.
He also appears as “H.P.L.” in the text of a humorous playlet in the Yearbook, titled a “Merry Drama of Hope”. At the plangent end of which he might be trying, in vain, to interest a passing fresher in the concept of meteoritic flight-paths…
Act IV, Scene 1.
The Corridor after school (snatches of conversation heard.)
“H. P. L. (Sophomorite:) “Well, the only definite theory advanced as to the cause of the meteoric path being hyperbolic or elliptic, is —”
Giddy Freshite (giggling hysterically:) “— And then he said —”
(Corridor gradually becomes vacant)
Lovecraft was a freshman (fresher) at Hope Street High in 1904-05, but left in November 1905 and did not return until September 1906. He formally left on 10th June 1908, without a High School diploma — as he had only taken a few full classes in his final year.
According to a comment by Chris Perridas there may be a photo of Lovecraft in the next yearbook, 1908. But Chris had not been able to see either 1907 or 1908, and they’re still not scanned and online. Possibly it’s a photo that’s already well-known, though there’s nothing from 1908 here.
The small page-scans above are from a long-lost eBay listing, the data for which was snagged and kept online (just about) by a Web traffic-funnelling autobot.