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THE DEEP ONES: "Your Weighing of My Heart" by W. H. Pugmire

The Weird Tradition

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Edited: Jun 25, 2014, 12:07pm Top

This is a fine prose poem from Wilum. Disguising Nyarlathotep as Anubis is an intriguing notion (although it sort of starts off with "Anubis" disguised as Nyarlathotep-as-Pharoah, doesn't it?). That last long paragraph works very nicely as the masquerade is decisively ended.

"Your Weighing of My Heart" actually provides a fitting coda to my recent reading of Zelazny's Creatures of Light and Darkness, which puts a compelling SF spin on a battle between Osiris and Anubis.

Jun 25, 2014, 9:23am Top

Prose poem is an apt description. The prose captured all my attention, such that apart from the weighing of the heart itself, and the references to the Thing from Egypt, any but the most general allusion to Anubis escaped my notice. I say that in admiration, the short piece certainly invites a second reading or more.

There were a few exceptions, but overall the word choice and imagery were unexpected and so effective. For example, the bit about the black beasts licking the creature's hand: delicious shuddery for me! But it was somewhat spoilt later on, in revealing the beasts were panthers. Fitting, yes, but not quite as ... visceral.

Edited: Jun 25, 2014, 10:04am Top

>3 elenchus:

Yep - some unique imagery is deftly conjured, such as the "cloud that was a conglomeration of tortured fowl cadavers from which, now and then, feathers loosened and sank to the earth".

Jun 25, 2014, 11:51am Top

As an avid consumer of the Nyarlapocalyptic, I enjoyed this one. The only thing that struck an off-note for me was the speaker's descriptions of her own physical features (hair and eyes, particularly). These seemed a little false, as not being the sort of things that would impinge on one's own awareness when giving an account this sort of experience. I'm not sure I would have noticed that detail if the short piece hadn't been so evocative overall.

Edited: Jun 25, 2014, 12:27pm Top

Yes, that was a bit of a brass note for me as well, but as you say, jarring primarily in being such a contrast to the remainder of the piece.

Did the story confirm the narrator is a woman? You make me realise I unconsciously committed that lazy mistake of assuming the narrator was the author: for shame.

Jun 25, 2014, 12:37pm Top

>5 paradoxosalpha:

"Nyarlapocalyptic" needs to be on a t-shirt.

Good point on the speaker's self-descriptions. I didn't notice - the force of vision in this piece must have caused me to breeze right by them.

Edited: Jun 25, 2014, 12:41pm Top

>6 elenchus:

I did exactly the same thing. A yellow gown is mentioned in particular, but I went right on with casting the author in the lead role! I must confess that I often do the same with HPL. It's the force of their personalities shining through, perhaps.

Jun 25, 2014, 2:23pm Top

The panthers appear in Robert Bloch's 'The Shadow from the Steeple', don't they?

I struggled a little with this one, but I think it's only because I struggle with any written surrealism.

While I'm perfectly happy with surrealism in the visual arts, it's as if I need words to make sense of the world, and my brain doesn't like it when they stop doing that job.

Jun 29, 2014, 3:22pm Top

Many thanx for your feedback on this. It's been so long since I've looked at it that I no longer remember what it was about. The Lovecraft eZine is the perfect place to send one's prose-poems, by the way. The epigraph by Wilde inspir'd the gender of my character and also ye reference to hair &c. I would say that I use the term "gown" only in reference to women--except that, being a drag queen of sorts, I have often found myself thus attired.....

Mar 26, 8:39pm Top

I'm sad to report that Wilum Pugmire passed away earlier today after an illness. He was 67. I've enjoyed much of his work ever since small press magazines like Space & Time and Grue back in the 70's and 80's. He has another Centipede Press volume coming out soon. His endearing eccentricities and love of weird fiction and H.P. Lovecraft's work will be missed.

Mar 26, 10:06pm Top

That is so young, too young. I enjoyed being introduced to his work here in The Weird Tradition, and it was an unexpected pleasure to have him join us in a few discussions, notably at least one Henry James story.

Mar 27, 8:35am Top

>12 elenchus:

Thanks! I remembered Wilum commenting elsewhere in our discussions, but I couldn't remember exactly where.

Edited: Mar 27, 5:03pm Top

The main one I recall is for "The Jolly Corner", and then a second James story he suggested (and was selected), "The Beast in the Jungle". A search indicates he probably pitched in to other threads, as well.

Mar 27, 6:58pm Top

Sad news.

Besides our Deep Ones discussions, I only had one contact with him.

In an Amazon review of August Derleth's Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, Vol. 1, I said J. Vernon Shea had not been a correspondent of Lovecraft's. Wilum took the time to write a comment gently telling me that I was completely wrong about that.

Apr 1, 7:01pm Top

A March 31, 2019 remembrance of Wilum by S.T. Joshi:


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