Samuel Loveman was a homosexual poet who lived in New York and was one of Hart Crane's Bohemian buddies. He was also one of H. P. Lovecraft's great friends, although he came to hate Lovecraft's memory when, in later life, he was shewn letters in which Lovecraft revealed a degenerate hatred of Jews. Loveman inspir'd two of HPL's great dreams, which were then transform'd into the weird tale "The Statement of Randolph Carter" and the magnificent prose poem "Nyarlathotep." This superb book from Hippocampus Press collects a generous portion of Loveman's Selected Works. It contains the contents of POEMS (1911) and the rare and wonderful THE HERMAPHRODITE AND OTHER POEMS (1936), in which we find this lovely poem in memory of Oscar Wilde:
He lived within a golden house,
With grapes and vine-leaves on his brows,
A slave to Beauty thrall'd;
His eyes were deeper than the sea,
His lips were spoken melody,
His soul an emerald.
The dryads and the fauns of old
Came to him from their wood of gold,
Each by his vision led;
And one by one he heard them cry,
Wouldst Thou for Truth or Beauty die?"
"For both," he laughing said.
But baser than the night that is,
There came to him his Nemesis,
Crowned with black nenuphars;
And in the elder evening hurl'd,
He saw the ruins of his world,
The ashes of his stars.
There, in the pagan darkness, he
Felt his own radiant agony,
And heard the gods affirm;
"That which thou soughtest shalt thou find:
Beauty, a breath of wandering wind,
Dust, and the drowsy worm."
As S. T. Joshi writes in his excellent and substantial introduction, "Loveman's biography, pieced together from a multiplicity of sources, in the end remains fragmentary and episodic." This is a great misfortune, because from what we know of him he was a fascinating man and an important figure both as a poet and as a New York queer in what was an interesting moment in American gay history. But it is as a brilliant poet that we remember him and appreciate his talent. This collection also contains snippets of short fiction and a number of essays, including essays on H. P. Lovecraft, John Keats, Marcel Proust, and Loveman's "A Letter on Hart Crane." The book is beautiful and definitive, appreciated and read over again and again, like a treasure chest of poetic gems that one can admire for an eternity of immortal nights.