THIS TITLE DOESN’T REFER TO either German nobility, soft ice cream or the British Isles, but the first paragraph (“graf” in news-speak) of one of my favorite novellae, H.P. Lovecraft‘s The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. Though mostly famous for his don’t-read-at-3-a.m. Cthulhu Mythos tales, the Old Gentleman’s most lyric imagery is to be found in his stories of The Dreamlands: a sort of “collective unconscious” vaguely surrounding Earth and accessible to it at certain points. Lovecraft is often accused of unreadably purple prose; I like to think he writes more for effect than for accuracy (like a Brian Eno composition, Lovecraft’s words are best enjoyed by letting them wash over you like a salty, warm, faintly ichorous sea). Thus, and in the hopes of spreading the Old Gentleman’s visions as far and wide as possible:
THREE TIMES Randolph Carter dreamed of the marvelous city, and three times was he snatched away while still he paused on the high terrace above it. All golden and lovely it blazed in the sunset, with walls, temples, colonnades and arched bridges of veined marble, silver-basined fountains of prismatic spray in broad squares and perfumed gardens, and wide streets marching between delicate trees and blossom-laden urns and ivory statues in gleaming rows; while on steep northward slopes climbed tiers of red roofs and old peaked gables harbouring little lanes of grassy cobbles. It was a fever of the gods, a fanfare of supernal trumpets and the clash of immortal cymbals. Mystery hung about it as clouds about a fabulous unvisited mountains; and as Carter stood breathless and expectant on that balustraded parapet there swept up to him the poignancy and suspense of almost-vanished memory, the pain of lost things and the maddening need to place again what once had been an awesome and momentous place.
(Eh? EH? THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about.)