“The Moon-Slave” by Barry Pain

Walpurgisnacht. Springtime Halloween.
A famous tale… of the danger of dance.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Moon-Slave”

Barry Pain

The Princess Viola had, even in her childhood, an inevitable submission to the dance; Continue reading

“De Moose” by Jessamine Slaughter Burgum

“De Moose”

from Dakota Horizons

Jessamine Slaughter Burgum

published in 1940 by The Times Publishing Co., Hunter, North Dakota

“The poems herein may be reprinted or used in any program as desired if due credit is given to author and publisher.”

Yes, by Gar,
I tak you two young fallers,
From de states,
To where de moose live; Continue reading

“Gavon’s Eve” by E.F. Benson

Halloween:
Legend and mystery and scandal, a witch and a ghost, and a blasphemous ritual in a castle ruin in the autumnal midnight.
-The Voice before the Void

“Gavon’s Eve”

E.F. Benson

It is only the largest kind of ordnance map that records the existence of the village of Gavon, in the shire of Sutherland, and it is perhaps surprising that any map on whatever scale should mark so small and huddled a group of huts, set on a bare, bleak headland between moor and sea, and, so one would have thought, of no import at all to any who did not happen to live there. But the river Gavon, on the right bank of which stand this half-dozen of chimneyless and wind-swept habitations, is a geographical fact of far greater interest to outsiders, Continue reading

“The Dead Valley” by Ralph Adams Cram

Halloween:
All the more creepy to think this based upon some obscure forgotten folklore.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Dead Valley”

from Black Spirits and White

Ralph Adams Cram

I have a friend, Olof Ehrensvärd, a Swede by birth, who yet, by reason of a strange and melancholy mischance of his early boyhood, has thrown his lot with that of the New World. It is a curious story of a headstrong boy and a proud and relentless family: the details do not matter here, but they are sufficient to weave a web of romance around the tall yellow-bearded man with the sad eyes and the voice that gives itself perfectly to plaintive little Swedish songs remembered out of childhood. In the winter evenings we play chess together, he and I, and after some close, fierce battle has been fought to a finish—usually with my own defeat—we fill our pipes again, and Ehrensvärd tells me stories of the far, half-remembered days in the fatherland, before he went to sea: stories that grow very strange and incredible as the night deepens and the fire falls together, but stories that, nevertheless, I fully believe. Continue reading

“The Night Ocean” by R.H. Barlow and H.P. Lovecraft

Halloween:
Amidst brooding philosophy, the pieces of the horror lie unobtrusively throughout the story for us to fit together. A superb story.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Night Ocean”

R.H. Barlow and H.P. Lovecraft

I went to Ellston Beach not only for the pleasures of sun and ocean, but to rest a weary mind. Since I knew no person in the little town, which thrives on summer vacationists and presents only blank windows during most of the year, there seemed no likelihood that I might be disturbed. This pleased me, for I did not wish to see anything but the expanse of pounding surf and the beach lying before my temporary home.

My long work of the summer was completed when I left the city, and the large mural design produced by it had been entered in the contest. It had taken me the bulk of the year to finish the painting, and when the last brush was cleaned I was no longer reluctant to yield to the claims of health and find rest and seclusion for a time. Indeed, when I had been a week on the beach I recalled only now and then the work whose success had so recently seemed all-important. There was no longer the old concern with a hundred complexities of colour and ornament; no longer the fear and mistrust of my ability to render a mental image actual, and turn by my own skill alone the dim-conceived idea into the careful draught of a design. And yet that which later befell me by the lonely shore may have grown solely from the mental constitution behind such concern and fear and mistrust. For I have always been a seeker, a dreamer, and a ponderer on seeking and dreaming; and who can say that such a nature does not open latent eyes sensitive to unsuspected worlds and orders of being? Continue reading

“Nyarlathotep” by H.P. Lovecraft

Few things are as fun as Lovecraft at the height of his powers.
Nary a word in excess here.
A wonderful evocation of the atmosphere of the End of the World.
-The Voice before the Void

“Nyarlathotep”

H.P. Lovecraft

Nyarlathotep… the crawling chaos… I am the last… I will tell the audient void…

I do not recall distinctly when it began, but it was months ago. The general tension was horrible. To a season of political and social upheaval was added a strange and brooding apprehension of hideous physical danger; a danger widespread and all-embracing, such a danger as may be imagined only in the most terrible phantasms of the night. I recall that the people went about with pale and worried faces, and whispered warnings and prophecies which no one dared consciously repeat or acknowledge to himself that he had heard. Continue reading

First chapter of A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

World War I:
A work unto itself, the first chapter of A Farewell to Arms is a great war story.
Like other works of devastating power, it can serve as a denunciation of the societal institution of war.
Like other of Hemingway’s works, it is constructed with a punchline.
The immensity of war’s tragedy arrives with the realization that the incident referenced is but one of many incidents, of many wars.
-The Voice before the Void

First chapter of A Farewell to Arms

Ernest Hemingway

Fair use of the text is claimed under U.S. copyright law for the purposes of education and commentary.

“Who Made the Law?” by Leslie Coulson

World War I:
Soldier’s war poetry.

“Who Made the Law?”

Leslie Coulson

Who made the Law that men should die in meadows?
Who spake the word that blood should splash in lanes?
Who gave it forth that gardens should be bone-yards?
Who spread the hills with flesh, and blood, and brains?
Who made the Law?

Who made the Law that Death should stalk the village?
Who spake the word to kill among the sheaves,
Who gave it forth that death should lurk in hedgerows,
Who flung the dead among the fallen leaves?
Who made the Law?

Those who return shall find that peace endures,
Find old things old, and know the things they knew,
Walk in the garden, slumber by the fireside,
Share the peace of dawn, and dream amid the dew —
Those who return.

Those who return shall till the ancient pastures,
Clean-hearted men shall guide the plough-horse reins,
Some shall grow apples and flowers in the valleys,
Some shall go courting in summer down the lanes —
THOSE WHO RETURN.

But who made the Law? the Trees shall whisper to him:
“See, see the blood — the splashes on our bark!”
Walking the meadows, he shall hear bones crackle,
And fleshless mouths shall gibber in silent lanes at dark.
Who made the Law?

Who made the Law? At noon upon the hillside
His ears shall hear a moan, his cheeks shall feel a breath,
And all along the valleys, past gardens, crofts, and homesteads,
HE who made the Law,
He who made the Law,
He who made the Law shall walk along with Death.

“At the Home of Poe” by Frank Belknap Long

Edgar Allan Poe’s Birthday:
A lilting story of a life.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“At the Home of Poe: A Poem in Prose”

Frank Belknap Long

To H. P. Lovecraft

The home of Poe! It is like a fairy dwelling, a gnomic palace built of the aether of dreams. It is tiny and delicate and lovely, and replete with memories of sere leaves in November and of lilies in April. It is a castle of vanished hopes, of dimly-remembered dreams, of sad memories Continue reading

“The Bad Year” by Edward William Thomson

Winter Special:
So we try to get through.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Bad Year”

Edward William Thomson

May, blighted by keen frosts, passed on to June;
No blooms, but many a stalk with drooping leaves,
And arid Summer wilted these full soon,
And Autumn gathered up no wealthy sheaves;
Plaintive October saddened for the year,
But wild November raged that hope was past,
Shrieking, “All days of life are made how drear —
Wild whirls of snow! and Death comes driving fast.”
Yet sane December when the winds fell low,
And cold calm light with sunshine tinkled clear,
Harkened to bells more sweet than long ago,
And meditated in a mind sincere: —

“Beneath these snows shining from yon red west
How sleep the blooms of some delighted May,
And June shall riot, lovely as the best
That flung their odors forth on all their way;
Yes, violet Spring, the balms of her soft breath,
Her birdlike voice, the child-joy in her air,
Her gentle colors” — sane December saith
“They come, they come — O heart, sigh not ‘They were.'”

“Of Withered Apples” by Philip K. Dick

Walpurgis Night Special:
From autumn into spring, perfect weirdness from the regent of reality-challenging stories, Philip K. Dick.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Of Withered Apples”

Philip K. Dick

Something was tapping on the window. Blowing up against the pane, again and again. Carried by the wind. Tapping faintly, insistently.

Lori, sitting on the couch, pretended not to hear. She gripped her book tightly and turned a page. The tapping came again, louder and more imperative. It could not be ignored.

“Darn!” Lori said, throwing her book down on the coffee table and hurrying to the window. She grasped the heavy brass handles and lifted.

For a moment the window resisted. Then, with a protesting groan, it reluctantly rose. Cold autumn air, rushed into the room. The bit of leaf ceased tapping and swirled against the woman’s throat, dancing to the floor.

Lori picked the leaf up. It was old and brown. Her heart skipped a beat as she slipped the leaf into the pocket of her jeans. Against her loins the leaf cut and tingled, a little hard point piercing her smooth skin and sending exciting shudders up and down her spine. She stood at the open window a moment, sniffing the air. The air was full of the presence of trees and rocks, of great boulders and remote places. It was time—time to go again. She touched the leaf. She was wanted. Continue reading

“An Inhabitant of Carcosa” by Ambrose Bierce

Influential weird fiction.
The scariest thing about ghosts is that you might become one.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“An Inhabitant of Carcosa”

Ambrose Bierce

For there be divers sorts of death – some wherein the body remaineth; and in some it vanisheth quite away with the spirit. This commonly occurreth only in solitude (such is God’s will) and, none seeing the end, we say the man is lost, or gone on a long journey – which indeed he hath; but sometimes it hath happened in sight of many, as abundant testimony showeth. In one kind of death the spirit also dieth, and this it hath been known to do while yet the body was in vigor for many years. Sometimes, as is veritably attested, it dieth with the body, but after a season is raised up again in that place where the body did decay.

Pondering these words of Hali (whom God rest) and questioning their full meaning, as one who, having an intimation, yet doubts if there be not something behind, other than that which he has discerned, I noted not whither I had strayed until a sudden chill wind striking my face revived in me a sense of my surroundings. I observed with astonishment that everything seemed unfamiliar. On every side of me stretched a bleak and desolate expanse of plain, covered with a tall overgrowth of sere grass, which rustled and whistled in the autumn wind with heaven knows what mysterious and disquieting Continue reading

“The Kiss of Death (The Inexorable)” by Carmen Sylva

Chillundity by the Queen of Romania.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Kiss of Death (The Inexorable)”

Carmen Sylva

translated from the German by Helen Zimmern

The sea was running high and was black as night. Only the crests of the endless waves glistened in the lightning that flashed across the heavens. The storm was raging towards the land and threw the ships upon the rocks, so that hundreds of human lives perished in the ocean. Then of a sudden it seemed as though the storm grew entangled among the cliffs on the shore, and condensed into a form that reared up tall and pale against the mighty heavens. It was a grave youth with unflinching black eyes, who leaned upon a sickle and held an hour-glass in his hand. He gazed across the waters with an indifferent air, as though the wrecks, and corpses beneath, concerned him as little as the sand in his glass, which trickled down evenly, steadily, regardless of the blustering of the storm, or the sudden quiet. There was something iron-like in the youth’s features, in his eyes there lay a power that destroyed all things they looked upon; even the ocean seemed to be numbed by them, and to grow silent with fear. Day dawned, and flooded with roseate hues from the rising sun. Sorrow came stepping over the cliffs. She stretched out her arms to the youth.

“Brother,” she cried, “brother, what have you done! You have raged terribly, and did not hear how I called you, ay, cried for you so eagerly.”

“I heard nothing,” said Death. “I felt myself too quiet, so I roused myself. A few vessels were lost in the act.”

“O pitiless one!” said Sorrow.

“I do not comprehend your grief,” answered the somber youth; and turning from her, he walked away. Continue reading

“Spirit Buck” by Karen Zenner

Mythic narrative.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Spirit Buck”

Karen Zenner

The first year I went hunting –
with Pa and Mike –
Everyone winked at me, and said,
“He looks like he’s all set for Ol’ Spirit.”
And I grinned and said I was.

Only a few had actually seen Spirit,
And then there was them that said they’d
gotten off a shot,
But you could count them on one hand. Continue reading

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving

Halloween Special:
All we need is Halloween.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

Washington Irving

FOUND AMONG THE PAPERS OF THE LATE DIEDRICH KNICKERBOCKER.

A pleasing land of drowsy head it was,
Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye;
And of gay castles in the clouds that pass,
Forever flushing round a summer sky.
Castle of Indolence.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Washington Irving Ichabod Crane Headless Horseman illustration by Emanuel Leutze 1864In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail and implored the protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market town or rural port, which by some is called Greensburgh, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town. This name was given, we are told, in former days, by the good housewives of the adjacent country, from the inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on market days. Be that as it may, I do not vouch for the fact, but merely advert to it, for the sake of being precise and authentic. Not far from this village, perhaps about two miles, there is a little valley or rather lap of land among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world. Continue reading

“The Father” by Bjornstjerne Bjornson

Odd and supreme beauty from Norway.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Father”

Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

translated from the Norwegian by R.B. Anderson

The man whose story is here to be told was the wealthiest and most influential person in his parish; his name was Thord Overaas. He appeared in the priest’s study one day, tall and earnest.

“I have gotten a son,” said he, “and I wish to present him for baptism.”

“What shall his name be?”

“Finn,–after my father.”

“And the sponsors?”

They were mentioned, and proved to be the best men and women of Thord’s relations in the parish.

“Is there anything else?” inquired the priest, and looked up.

The peasant hesitated a little. Continue reading

“October’s Bright Blue Weather” by Helen Hunt Jackson

Autumn Special:
Jackson asserts that people want to have sex with each other in the autumn even more than they do in the summertime.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“October’s Bright Blue Weather”

Helen Hunt Jackson

O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather; Continue reading

“April Afternoons” by The Voice before the Void

Springtime Special:
The month of April returns and fleets.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“April Afternoons”

The Voice before the Void

A Wednesday
Young men die in April
The time of the spring offensives
Sortying south of the wall
Or over the top into the mud

A Friday
It is a feat to survive the guileless aimless lust-surge of youth Continue reading

“In Praise of Johnny Appleseed” by Vachel Lindsay

Autumn Special:
Sonorousness.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“In Praise of Johnny Appleseed”

Vachel Lindsay

edited by The Voice before the Void

In the days of President Washington,
The glory of the nations,
Dust and ashes,
Snow and sleet,
And hay and oats and wheat,
Blew west,
Crossed the Appalachians,
Found the glades of rotting leaves, the soft deer-pastures,
In the forest.
Colts jumped the fence,
Snorting, ramping, snapping, sniffing, Continue reading