Letter to H. P. Lovecraft

From Clark Ashton Smith

[33] [c. 1 September 1933]

From that dome in the
floating ice-mountain
Yikilth, where the White
Worm, Rlim Shaikorth, weeps
eternally from his eyeless
orbits those eye-like
globules of blood-coloured
matter that form purple
stalagmites as they fall.

Dear E'ch-Pi-El:

Thanks for the view of Hope College, which gives a very pleasant idea of your neighborhood. I wish I could see it all, and know that I would be highly sensitive to the antiquarian atmosphere. You are fortunate to reside in a vicinity so congenial. I trust it will never be desecrated by the inroads of modernism.

Helen, [1] whom I have seen twice since her return, has given me glowing accounts of her trip, and especially of the parts played in it by you and the other members of the "gang". It makes me more anxious than ever — if possible — to come east and meet all of you. I cannot thank you too much or often for your kindness to Helen. She seems to have been overwhelmingly impressed by the superiority of Eastern people in general to the Californians; and I do not doubt that her impression is correct. Out here, we have been afflicted with the riff-raff of America — as well as of several other continents.

I am indeed pleased to know that the pamphlet [2] holds up on re-reading. Quite a number of people have expressed a preference for "The Willow Landscape" — among them, readers who do not care for the weird.

[. . .]

I have not yet completed the IX Chapter of Eibon, but expect to bring it to some sort of conclusion before long. I have renamed it "The Coming of the White Worm". The story takes its text from that saying of the prophet Lith, which no man had understood: "There is One that inhabits the place of utter cold, and One that respireth where none other may draw breath. In the days to come He shall issue forth among the isles and cities of men, and shall bring with Him as a white doom the wind that slumbereth in His dwelling".

Wright rejected "The Witchcraft of Ulua" as being too much of "a sex story". Ye gods — when you consider the current cover of the magazine! Well, he may be right; but I was aiming mainly at weirdness; and whatever erotic imagery the tale contained was intended to be subordinate to its macabre qualities. Mere bawdiness is a bore, as far as I am concerned. Wandrei seems to have made a good start with the revived Astounding. He tells me that they want "realistic characters" and a subordinate scientific ground -- as well as good writing. This makes it sound a bit unlikely for me; but there is no harm in trying. [. . .]

[. . .]

[. . .] Robert Bloch, by the way, has just sent me a rather powerful crayon drawing called "Dine and Dance". The diabolism in it is really startling. The boy certainly has promise.

[. . .]

With the composition of two more tales, "The Madness of Chronomage" and "Xeethra", I shall have enough stories of Zothique for a volume. Nothing remains except to find a publisher — which, methinks, will be a contract!

Yours for the descent of the Serpent


  1. Helen V. Sully, daughter of Genevieve Sully, and friend and correspondent of Lovecraft.
  2. The Double Shadow.

From: Clark Ashton Smith: LETTERS TO H. P. LOVECRAFT, edited by and footnotes by Steve Behrends (July 1987) Necronomicon Press.

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