Edgar Allan Poe's 'Dreamland'

Michael O. Varhola

An often overlooked resource for gamers interested in the Mythos of Lovecraft and his contemporaries is the work of Edgar Allan Poe, a fixture of an earlier age but a profound influence on those who followed him. Following is a good example of such seminal work, an 1844 poem titled "Dreamland" that reads very much like Lovecraft, especially in its reference to "Ghouls," and I suspect many readers familiar with the later writer's poetry might have assumed this was his. Poe was, by the way, not entirely pleased with this poem, and published a revised version of it titled "Dream-Land" the following year. The image that appears here is one that artist Gustave Dore created to illustrate some of Poe's work. 

Dreamland
By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule—
From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of SPACE—out of TIME.

Bottomless vales and boundless floods,
And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,
With forms that no man can discover
For the dews that drip all over;
Mountains toppling evermore
Into seas without a shore;
Seas that restlessly aspire,
Surging, unto skies of fire;
Lakes that endlessly outspread
Their lone waters—lone and dead,
Their still waters—still and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily.

By the lakes that thus outspread
Their lone waters, lone and dead,— 
Their still waters, still and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily. 

By the mountains—near the river
Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,—
By the gray woods,—by the swamp
Where the toad and the newt encamp,—
By the dismal tarns and pools
Where dwell the Ghouls,—
By each spot the most unholy—
In each nook most melancholy,—

There the traveller meets aghast
Sheeted Memories of the past—
Shrouded forms that start and sigh
As they pass the wanderer by—
White-robed forms of friends long given,
In agony, to the Earth—and Heaven.

For the heart whose woes are legion
'Tis a peaceful, soothing region—
For the spirit that walks in shadow
'Tis—oh, 'tis an Eldorado!
But the traveller, travelling through it,
May not—dare not openly view it;
Never its mysteries are exposed
To the weak human eye unclosed;
So wills its King, who hath forbid
The uplifting of the fringed lid;
And thus the sad Soul that here passes