Alethia Phrikodes is a long poem by H.P. Lovecraft. The title, by the way, is from Greek, and means “Frightful Truth.”
Following the title there is a short line, in Latin, reading:
“Omnia risus et omnis pulvis et omna nihil.”
Omni = all
risus = laughter
pulvis = dust
nihil = nothing
That could be translated to:
“Everything is a laugh and everything is nothing.” or maybe “All is a laugh and all is dust.” or “All laughter is all dust is all nothing.” or “All the laughter and all the dust and all the nothing.”
I found Alethia Phrikodes in the pages of the July 1952 issue of Weird Tales. But, subsequent research shows that it’s actually a segment extracted from an even longer, and much earlier, poem, entitled The Poe-et’s Nightmare (first published in The Vagrant, No. 8, July 1918).
Beyond being really cool Alethia Phrikodes is also, apparently, Lovecraft’s “first enunciation of cosmicism.”*
And so here’s Mr. Jim Moon’s beautiful narration of it |MP3| (12 minutes). To go with it check out this |PDF| which includes the text and the gorgeous art by Jon Arfstrom (from it’s publication in Weird Tales).
The horrors of medieval witchery in rural France! Hear Mr. Jim Moon narrate the “darkly erotic” Mother Of Toads, originally censored in its Weird Tales publication, Mr. Jim Moon reads it in its “full uncut glory.”
Mother Of Toads
By Clark Ashton Smith; Read by Mr. Jim Moon
1 |MP3| – Approx. 1 Hour 16 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcast: January 27, 2013 Weird and powerful was the effect on the young apprentice of the potion given him by Mere Antoinette, known by the villagers as “the Mother of Toads.” First published in Weird Tales, July 1938.
Here’s a |PDF| made from the censored version that appeared in Weird Tales.
Part of the Fungi From Yuggoth sequence of sonnets, this poem, The Port, is one of two featuring the mouldering town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts (as depicted in H.P. Lovecraft’s novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth). It also places the seaport town in relation to another of his famous fictional places, Arkham.
By H.P. Lovecraft
Ten miles from Arkham I had struck the trail
That rides the cliff-edge over Boynton Beach,
And hoped that just at sunset I could reach
The crest that looks on Innsmouth in the vale.
Far out at sea was a retreating sail,
White as hard years of ancient winds could bleach,
But evil with some portent beyond speech,
So that I did not wave my hand or hail.
Sails out of lnnsmouth! echoing old renown
Of long-dead times. But now a too-swift night
Is closing in, and I have reached the height
Whence I so often scan the distant town.
The spires and roofs are there – but look! The gloom
Sinks on dark lanes, as lightless as the tomb!
The SFFaudio Podcast #214 – The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft; read by the fabulous Mike Bennett. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the novella (3 hours 2 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Julie Hoverson, and Mr. Jim Moon.
Talked about on today’s show:
My only holy book, Deities & Demigods, Deep Ones, Dagon, serving the will of Cthulhu, “they can only be killed by violent death”, why are they evil, seafood, miscegenation, the war on alcohol, they like to drink and wear jewelry, are there Deep Ones in Guantanamo Bay?, only crackers and soup, Innsmouth, Massachusetts, Captain Obed Marsh, persuaded to breed with a deep one, immortality, 19th century, “festering quietly”, “a nice family reunion”, why is The Shadow Over Innsmouth so cherished?, Call Of Cthulhu The Dark Places Of The Earth, a Skyrim mission, Dagon and Mother Hydra, Dagon, New England Tahitians, Walter Gilman in The Dreams In The Witch House, The Thing On The Doorstep, Doctor Who’s The Sea Devil is The Shadow Over Innsmouth with less schtupping, The Silurians, can’t go wrong with a good sea monster, The Creature From The Black Lagoon, Julie’s adaptation will have more sex!, Alan Moore’s Neonomicon, g-men, an Esoteric Order Of Dagon style-cult, a traumatic read, the end, the film of Dagon (set in Spain), Stuart Gordon, Castle Freak is one of the best dramatic Full Moon films, the Masters Of Horror adaptation of The Dreams In The Witch House, The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society adaptation (Dark Adventure Radio Theatre), the framing story, The Statement Of Randolph Carter, who is our protagonist confessing to?, Double Indemnity, heredity and atavism, 1920s, 1930s, Zadok Allen, Julie’s adaptation of The Rats In The Walls, The Picture In The House, female characters in Lovecraft, Cool Air, Lovecraft cares about words, House Of The Dead, the San Juan Islands, the naming of islands, Lovecraft crafts with love, August Derleth!, “the full gibbous moon”?, racism, the “Gilman Inn” is a pun, The Whisperer In Darkness, he’s there for the architecture, “reluctant fascination”, that old uncle who smells weird, The Shuttered Room by August Derleth, the worst fanfic writer ever, posthumous collaboration, Fishhead by Irvin S. Cobb, The Harbor-Master by Robert W. Chambers, an inbred wild-man, local rednecks, “a bit too close to the sea”, an economic depression, isn’t it a good deal?, arranged marriages, what’s with the Innsmouth Chamber Of Commerce?, in the Octopus’ garden, Brown Monkey, Dick Dynamo: The Fifth Dimensional Man, meta, 118 Migration, Afterlives (a Bangsian fantasy), the golden era of internet audio drama, a new idea, Hypnobobs, classics vs. moderns, old books have vocabulary, Jack London, MTV saturated audiences?, Goodreads reviews of Dracula, Fifty Shades Of Grey, atheist vicars?, the stress on the importance of reading may breed bad books, teachers pick books with big social value, Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, turning kids off literature, Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone, using Robinson Crusoe as a guide to life, police procedural, obstreperous, The Murders At The Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe, the audiobook of The Moonstone.
Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city lying alone
Far down within the dim West,
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
Have gone to their eternal rest.
There shrines and palaces and towers
(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)
Resemble nothing that is ours.
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
No rays from the holy heaven come down
On the long night-time of that town;
But light from out the lurid sea
Streams up the turrets silently-
Gleams up the pinnacles far and free-
Up domes- up spires- up kingly halls-
Up fanes- up Babylon-like walls-
Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers-
Up many and many a marvellous shrine
Whose wreathed friezes intertwine
The viol, the violet, and the vine.
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air,
While from a proud tower in the town
Death looks gigantically down.
There open fanes and gaping graves
Yawn level with the luminous waves;
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol’s diamond eye-
Not the gaily-jewelled dead
Tempt the waters from their bed;
For no ripples curl, alas!
Along that wilderness of glass-
No swellings tell that winds may be
Upon some far-off happier sea-
No heavings hint that winds have been
On seas less hideously serene.
But lo, a stir is in the air!
The wave- there is a movement there!
As if the towers had thrust aside,
In slightly sinking, the dull tide-
As if their tops had feebly given
A void within the filmy Heaven.
The waves have now a redder glow-
The hours are breathing faint and low-
And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down that town shall settle hence,
Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
Shall do it reverence.