The Tree by H.P. Lovecraft (1921)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror November 17, 2015
The Fates Will Find a Way. So opens Lovecraft’s very short story that is certain to grab you and even puzzle you. Artistic ambition, subtle revenge, friendship and grief are the themes. Mt. Maenalus is the setting. For me, supernatural stories on a mountain are an immediate attraction. Love the spiritual power of mountains. Coupled with the power of fate and desire, this makes for an intriguing mystery.
[Pan, Mikhail Vrubel 1900]
A beekeeper is telling our story, a rather stinging tale. “On a verdant slope of Mount Maenalus, in Arcadia … a chosen haunt of dreaded Pan [God of Nature and Mountain Wilds], whose queer companions are many …” Two sculptors Musides and Kalos live and work together harmoniously. They are both gifted sculptors. Kalos likes the olive tree groves and converses with the nature spirits there, a meditative and inspired soul. Musides prefers urban gaieties and is more worldly. When Kalos becomes ill and dies, Musides is filled with grief and fulfills his friend’s last request to bury him with olive tree twigs at his head. But more is happening here than just grief. What grows from Kalos’ tomb reveals more than just a gigantic death-distorted tree with crooked boughs. Listen to what the boughs whisper. The Fates Will Find a Way.
Interpretations vary about this story. It’s a slow thoughtful read. Do leave a comment!
Read the short story at HPLovcraft.com.
Listen to the Librivox audio recording on YouTube.com
HP Literary Podcast discusses The Tree here.
Lovecraft fans will be interested in hearing the latest news from David Hartwell: This is the last year the World Fantasy Award will be the H.P.Lovecraft statue. Joyce Carole Oates has a post on her blog this week. You can read it at Celestial Timepiece.
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