Chilling American Authors and Their
Spine-Tingling Stories of Yore
This week’s chilling American author shared a number of life events that were eerily similar to our first featured writer, Edgar Allan Poe. He too was born in New England, would lose his father during childhood, lived in New York City for a time, suffered financial difficulty and would only live until his forties.
“When I write stories, Edgar Allan Poe is my model.” (1)
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”
― H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature
Akin to the poetic prowess of Edgar Allan Poe, Lovecraft painted a dark and gloomy reality in his poems. One example was a work that he published in 1919. Tragically, this was the same year that his mother entered a mental institution:
O’er the midnight moorlands crying,
Thro’ the cypress forests sighing,
In the night-wind madly flying,
Hellish forms with streaming hair;
In the barren branches creaking,
By the stagnant swamp-pools speaking,
Past the shore-cliffs ever shrieking;
Damn’d daemons of despair.
Once, I think I half remember,
Ere the grey skies of November
Quench’d my youth’s aspiring ember,
Liv’d there such a thing as bliss;
Skies that now are dark were beaming,
Gold and azure, splendid seeming
Till I learn’d it all was dreaming—
Deadly drowsiness of Dis.
But the stream of Time, swift flowing,
Brings the torment of half-knowing—
Dimly rushing, blindly going
Past the never-trodden lea;
And the voyager, repining,
Sees the wicked death-fires shining,
Hears the wicked petrel’s whining
As he helpless drifts to sea.
Evil wings in ether beating;
Vultures at the spirit eating;
Things unseen forever fleeting
Black against the leering sky.
Ghastly shades of bygone gladness,
Clawing fiends of future sadness,
Mingle in a cloud of madness
Ever on the soul to lie.
Thus the living, lone and sobbing,
In the throes of anguish throbbing,
With the loathsome Furies robbing
Night and noon of peace and rest.
But beyond the groans and grating
Of abhorrent Life, is waiting
Sweet Oblivion, culminating
All the years of fruitless quest.
One of Lovecraft’s earlier works revealed the trepidations associated with losing one’s way in the dark abyss of subterranean earth. In creating this short story’s setting he uses Mammoth Cave in Kentucky where he references a “colony of consumptives.” The presence of sanitariums in the cave (image below) for the sick is historically accurate which lends to the credibility of the tale’s ghastly twist and almost non-fictional conclusion.
Heartfelt History’s spine-tingling story of the week:
The Beast In The Cave
Click the play button below to start the audio of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Beast In The Cave (2)
1) Lovecraft’s letter to Rheinhart Kleiner
2) Librivox.org recording of The Beast in the Cave – public domain
Other photos from Internet Archive in the public domain