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Old 05-06-2008   #1
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Dark Poetry

I thought I would start a thread about dark poetry. Ligotti has written some of my favorite prose poems: I Have a Special Plan for this World and the Notebook of the Night section in Noctuary. He has also been influenced by the work of Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire, and Joseph Payne Brennan, to name a few. Share whatever you like: an individual poem, an excerpt from a longer work, a recommendation for a book of poetry, etc. I will start with one we all know, The Conqueror Worm by Edgar Allan Poe. This has been my favorite poem since I first read it in the fifth grade.


The Conqueror Worm


Lo! 'tis a gala night
Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
In veils, and drowned in tears,
Sit in a theatre, to see
A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
The music of the spheres.

Mimes, in the form of God on high,
Mutter and mumble low,
And hither and thither fly-
Mere puppets they, who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things
That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from out their Condor wings
Invisible Woe!

That motley drama- oh, be sure
It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore,
By a crowd that seize it not,
Through a circle that ever returneth in
To the self-same spot,
And much of Madness, and more of Sin,
And Horror the soul of the plot.

But see, amid the mimic rout
A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out
The scenic solitude!
It writhes!- it writhes!- with mortal pangs
The mimes become its food,
And seraphs sob at vermin fangs
In human gore imbued.

Out- out are the lights- out all!
And, over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
Comes down with the rush of a storm,
While the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, "Man,"
And its hero the Conqueror Worm.

Last edited by bendk; 12-21-2010 at 08:03 AM..
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Old 05-06-2008   #2
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Re: Dark Poetry

Hey, there's already a site called Dark Poetry. I shoulda guessed or checked first. Oh, well.

http://www.horrormasters.com/Themes/DarkPoetry.htm
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Old 05-06-2008   #3
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Re: Dark Poetry


DARKNESS


George Gordon, Lord Byron


I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went--and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires--and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings--the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consum'd,
And men were gather'd round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other's face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
A fearful hope was all the world contain'd;
Forests were set on fire--but hour by hour
They fell and faded--and the crackling trunks
Extinguish'd with a crash--and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them; some lay down
And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smil'd;
And others hurried to and fro, and fed
Their funeral piles with fuel, and look'd up
With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
The pall of a past world; and then again
With curses cast them down upon the dust,
And gnash'd their teeth and howl'd: the wild birds shriek'd
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawl'd
And twin'd themselves among the multitude,
Hissing, but stingless--they were slain for food.
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again: a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
All earth was but one thought--and that was death
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails--men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devour'd,
Even dogs assail'd their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famish'd men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lur'd their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answer'd not with a caress--he died.
The crowd was famish'd by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive,
And they were enemies: they met beside
The dying embers of an altar-place
Where had been heap'd a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage; they rak'd up,
And shivering scrap'd with their cold skeleton hands
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld
Each other's aspects--saw, and shriek'd, and died--
Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written Fiend. The world was void,
The populous and the powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless--
A lump of death--a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirr'd within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropp'd
They slept on the abyss without a surge--
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon, their mistress, had expir'd before;
The winds were wither'd in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish'd; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them--She was the Universe.

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Old 05-06-2008   #4
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Re: Dark Poetry

bendk,
Interesting thread.

Quote
Hey, there's already a site called Dark Poetry. I shoulda guessed or checked first. Oh, well.

http://www.horrormasters.com/Themes/DarkPoetry.htm
Actually it is only a part of a huge online horror fiction library called "Horror Masters". I used to be addicted to this site 5 years ago, visiting it on a daily basis. A new horror story is uploaded every night.

They have some wonderful pieces there, actually some of the best in the genre. It's a bit like a virtual Ash Tree Press (many of these stories are collected in the single author collections they publish).
Unfortunately, the printing of their PDF documents is not allowed - unless you know how to unlock them. ;)

"In my imagination, I have a small apartment in a small town where I live alone and gaze through a window at a wintry landscape." -- TL
BLOG II PHOTOGRAPHY II BOOKS
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Old 05-06-2008   #5
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Re: Dark Poetry

Next, Please
by Philip Larkin


Always too eager for the future, we
Pick up bad habits of expectancy.
Something is always approaching; every day
Till then we say,

Watching from a bluff the tiny, clear
Sparkling armada of promises draw near.
How slow they are! And how much time they waste,
Refusing to make haste!

Yet still they leave us holding wretched stalks
Of disappointment, for, though nothing balks
Each big approach, leaning with brasswork prinked,
Each rope distinct,

Flagged, and the figurehead with golden tits
Arching our way, it never anchors; it's
No sooner present than it turns to past.
Right to the last

We think each one will heave to and unload
All good into our lives, all we are owed
For waiting so devoutly and so long.
But we are wrong:

Only one ship is seeking us, a black-
Sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back
A huge and birdless silence. In her wake
No waters breed or break.
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Old 05-06-2008   #6
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Re: Dark Poetry

THE NIGHT DANCES
Sylvia Plath


A smile fell in the grass.
Irretrievable!

And how will your night dances
Lose themselves. In mathematics?

Such pure leaps and spirals--
Surely they travel

The world forever, I shall not entirely
Sit emptied of beauties, the gift

Of your small breath, the drenched grass
Smell of your sleeps, lilies, lilies.

Their flesh bears no relation.
Cold folds of ego, the calla,

And the tiger, embellishing itself--
Spots, and a spread of hot petals.

The comets
Have such a space to cross,

Such coldness, forgetfulness.
So your gestures flake off--

Warm and human, then their pink light
Bleeding and peeling

Through the black amnesias of heaven.
Why am I given

These lamps, these planets
Falling like blessings, like flakes

Six-sided, white
On my eyes, my lips, my hair

Touching and melting.
Nowhere.

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 05-06-2008   #7
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Re: Dark Poetry


"The Children of Wrath"


By Vincent O'Sullivan


|<<(o)>>|
.

Last night I wandered in the Devil's close,
Crushed by the aching agony of those
Who know strange secrets which they must
close.

I found him seated in a herbless plain
On two large stones, nor with him any train
Of courtiers, or throng of souls in pain.

Across the muffled sky wild lightning broke,
And ever through the air the acrid croak
Of ravens fell: then drawing near I spoke.

"Almighty Master, thou whose name is feared
Throughout the sick world, and whose heart is cheered
By suitors, why alone?" The Devil leered.

"Look round this land!'" he cried; "let your eyes scan
Till they go blind this desert--in its span
You shall not find the footprint of a man."

I answered: "There is one. Behold! I kneel
To whisper shameful things, that I may feel
Thy dread praise for the horror I reveal."

Then Satan: "Rise! If you would serve me, keep
Your sins locked in your heart as herds fold sheep
At fall of night: sin silently and deep!

"Walk armoured as a saint in open day;
Blaspheme me, and the Sacred Office say:
My servitors to God the loudest pray.

"I love the virtue of the fools who lie
Besotted with celestial vanity--
Who think they cannot sin, and shall not die.

"To them I ever murmur: 'You do well;
The Holy Spirit in your soul doth dwell!'
For them I keep alight the fire of Hell.''

I waited: "O Master, thou whose name is feared
Throughout the sick world, and whose heart is cheered
By suitors, space the people scorched and seared!"


~~~-I<.(o).>I-~~~
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Old 05-07-2008   #8
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Re: Dark Poetry

from The City of Dreadful Night by James Thomson

The City is of Night; perchance of Death,
But certainly of Night; for never there
Can come the lucid morning’s fragrant breath
After the dewy dawning’s cold grey air;
The moon and stars may shine with scorn or pity;
The sun has never visited that city,
For it dissolveth in the daylight fair.

Dissolveth like a dream of night away;
Though present in distempered gloom of thought
And deadly weariness of heart all day.
But when a dream night after night is brought
Throughout a week, and such weeks few or many
Recur each year for several years, can any
Discern that dream from real life in aught?

For life is but a dream whose shapes return,
Some frequently, some seldom, some by night
And some by day, some night and day: we learn,
The while all change and many vanish quite,
In their recurrence with recurrent changes
A certain seeming order; where this ranges
We count things real; such is memory’s might.

A river girds the city west and south,
The main north channel of a broad lagoon,
Regurging with the salt tides from the mouth;
Waste marshes shine and glister to the moon
For leagues, then moorland black, then stony ridges;
Great piers and causeways, many noble bridges,
Connect the town and islet suburbs strewn.

Upon an easy slope it lies at large,
And scarcely overlaps the long curved crest
Which swells out two leagues, from the river marge.
A trackless wilderness rolls north and west,
Savannahs, savage woods, enormous mountains,
Bleak uplands, black ravines with torrent fountains;
And eastward rolls the shipless sea’s unrest.

The city is not ruinous, although
Great ruins of an unremembered past,
With others of a few short years ago
More sad, are found within its precincts vast.
The street-lamps always burn; but scarce a casement
In house or place front from roof to basement
Doth glow or gleam athwart the mirk air cast.

The street-lamps burn amidst the baleful glooms,
Amidst the soundless solitudes immense
Of ranged mansions dark and still as tombs.
The silence which benumbs or strains the sense
Fulfils with awe the soul’s despair unweeping:
Myriads of habitants are ever sleeping,
Or dead, or fled from nameless pestilence!

Yet as in some necropolis you find
Perchance one mourner to a thousand dead,
So there; worn faces that look deaf and blind
Like tragic masks of stone. With weary tread,
Each wrapt in his own doom, they wander, wander,
Or sit foredone and desolately ponder
Through sleepless hours with heavy drooping head.

Mature men chiefly, few in age or youth,
A woman rarely, now and then a child:
A child! If here the heart turns sick with ruth
To see a little one from birth defiled,
Or lame or blind, as preordained to languish
Through youthless life, think how it bleeds with anguish
To meet one erring in that homeless wild.

They often murmur to themselves, they speak
To one another seldom, for their woe
Broods maddening inwardly and scorns to wreak
Itself abroad; and if at whiles it grow
To frenzy which must rave, none heeds the clamor.
Unless there waits some victim of like glamour,
To rave in turn, who lends attentive show.

The City is of Night, but not of Sleep;
There sweet sleep is not for the weary brain;
The pitiless hours like years and ages creep,
A night seems termless hell. This dreadful strain
Of thought and conscious which never ceases,
Or which some moments’ stupor but increases,
This worse than woe, makes wretches there insane.

They leave all hope behind who enter there:
One certitude while sane they cannot leave,
One anodyne for torture and despair;
The certitude of Death, which no reprieve
Can put off long; and which divinely tender,
But waits the outstretched hand to promptly render
That draught whose slumber nothing can bereave.

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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Old 05-07-2008   #9
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Re: Dark Poetry

Another Night by Guiseppe Ungaretti

In this darkness
with frozen
hands
I make out
my face

I see myself
deserted in boundlessness

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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Old 05-07-2008   #10
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Re: Dark Poetry

from Day By Day by Guiseppe Ungaretti

Already autumnal dryness
Has sunk into my bones,
But, lengthening from shadow,
A demented never-ending
Radiance arrives:
Hidden torment of the sunken
Twilight...

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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