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The Nameless CityBy H. P. Lovecraft

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When I drew nigh the nameless city ns knew it was accursed. I was travellingin a parched and terrible sink under the moon, and afar I experienced it protruding uncannily abovethe sands as parts of a corpse may protrude from an ill-made grave. Are afraid spoke indigenous the age-wornstones of this hoary survivor the the deluge, this great-grandmother of the eldest pyramid; anda viewless aura repelled me and bade me retreat from antique and also sinister keys that no manshould see, and no guy else had ever before dared to see.Remote in the desert of Araby lies the nameless city, crumbling and also inarticulate,its short walls practically hidden through the sands of uncounted ages. The must have actually been thus prior to thefirst stones of Memphis to be laid, and also while the bricks the Babylon were yet unbaked. Over there isno legend for this reason old as to give that a name, or to recall the it was ever before alive; but it is told ofin whispers approximately campfires and also muttered about by grandams in the tents the sheiks, for this reason thatall the people shun it there is no wholly discovering why. It was of this location that Abdul Alhazredthe mad poet dreamy on the night before he sang his unexplainable couplet:“That is notdead which can eternal lie,And through strange aeons even death maydie.”
I should have actually known the the Arabs had an excellent reason for shunning the namelesscity, the city said of in strange tales yet seen through no life man, yet i defied them and also wentinto the untrodden waste with my camel. Ns alone have actually seen it, and that is why no other facebears such hideous present of are afraid as mine; why no other guy shivers for this reason horribly when the night-windrattles the windows. When I came upon the in the ghastly stillness of unending sleep it lookedat me, chilly from the light ray of a cold moon amidst the desert’s heat. And also as i returnedits look ns forgot mine triumph at finding it, and also stopped still with my camel come wait because that thedawn.For hours I waited, it rotates the east grew grey and the stars faded, and the greyturned to roseal irradiate edged with gold. Ns heard a moaning and saw a storm that sand stirring amongthe antique stones despite the sky was clear and the vast reaches that the desert still. Climate suddenlyabove the desert’s far rim come the blazing sheet of the sun, seen with the small sandstormwhich was passing away, and in mine fevered state i fancied the from some remote depth therecame a crash that musical metal to hail the fiery disc together Memnon hails the from the financial institutions of theNile. My ear rang and also my creativity seethed as I led my camel slowly across the sand to thatunvocal stone place; that place too old because that Egypt and Meroë come remember; that place whichI alone of life men had seen.In and out among the shapeless foundations of houses and palaces i wandered,finding never ever a carving or engraving to tell of those men, if males they were, who constructed thecity and dwelt therein so long ago. The classical times of the spot was unwholesome, and I longedto conference some sign or an equipment to prove that the city was indeed fashioned by mankind. Therewere certain proportions and also dimensions in the damages which i did no like. I hadwith me countless tools, and also dug much within the walls of the obliterated edifices; however progresswas slow, and nothing far-ranging was revealed. Once night and the moon reverted I felt a chillwind which brought new fear, therefore that ns did not dare to continue to be in the city. And as ns went outsidethe antique walls to sleep, a little sighing sandstorm gathered behind me, blowing over the greystones despite the moon was bright and most that the desert still.I awaked simply at dawn indigenous a pageant of awful dreams, my ear ringing asfrom part metallic peal. I witnessed the sunlight peering redly with the critical gusts the a small sandstormthat hovered end the nameless city, and marked the quietness that the rest of the landscape.Once an ext I ventured in ~ those brooding ruins that swelled beneath the sand favor an ogreunder a coverlet, and again dug vainly for relics the the forget race. At noon ns rested, andin the afternoon ns spent lot time tracing the walls, and also the i delivered streets, and the outlinesof the almost vanished buildings. I witnessed that the city had actually been mighty indeed, and also wondered atthe sources of that greatness. Come myself i pictured every the splendours of an er so remote thatChaldaea might not recall it, and thought that Sarnath the Doomed, that stood in the floor of Mnarwhen mankind was young, and also of Ib, the was carven the grey rock before mankind existed.All at once I come upon a ar where the bed-rock increased stark with the sandand created a low cliff; and also here I saw with joy what appeared to promise additional traces the theantediluvian people. Hewn crude oil on the confront of the cliff were the unmistakable facades that severalsmall, squat rock residences or temples; who interiors could preserve many secrets of eras tooremote because that calculation, despite sandstorms had actually long since effaced any type of carvings which might havebeen outside.Very low and also sand-choked were all of the dark apertures close to me, yet I clearedone v my spade and also crawled with it, carrying a torch to reveal whatever mysteries the mighthold. Once I was inside I witnessed that the cavern was undoubtedly a temple, and beheld plain indications ofthe gyeongju that had actually lived and worshipped before the desert to be a desert. Primitive altars, pillars,and niches, every curiously low, were not absent; and also though I observed no sculptures nor frescoes,there were many singular stones clearly shaped into symbols by fabricated means. The lownessof the chiselled chamber was an extremely strange, for I can hardly much more than kneel upright; however thearea to be so great that mine torch shewed only component at a time. Ns shuddered oddly in some of thefar corners; for specific altars and stones suggested forgotten rites of terrible, revolting,and unsure nature, and made me wonder what manner of men could have made and frequentedsuch a temple. As soon as I had seen all the the ar contained, ns crawled out again, avid to findwhat the other temples might yield.Night had now approached, yet the tangible points I had seen made curiositystronger than fear, therefore that ns did not flee indigenous the lengthy moon-cast shadows that had actually dauntedme when first I witnessed the nameless city. In the twilight i cleared another aperture and also with anew torch crawled right into it, finding an ext vague stones and also symbols, though nothing an ext definitethan the other temple had contained. The room was just as low, but much much less broad, ending ina very narrow i crowded v obscure and also cryptical shrines. Around these temples I wasprying once the noise that a wind and of mine camel outside broke through the stillness and also drewme soon to see what could have scared the beast.The moon to be gleaming vividly end the primeval ruins, lighting a thick cloudof sand that appeared blown by a solid but diminish wind native some suggest along the cliff aheadof me. I knew it to be this chilly, sandy wind which had actually disturbed the camel, and was around tolead him to a ar of far better shelter once I chanced to glance up and also saw the there was nowind atop the cliff. This astonished me and made me fear again, but I instantly recalledthe sudden neighborhood winds I had seen and heard before at sunrise and also sunset, and judged it wasa typical thing. I made decision that it come from some rock fissure bring about a cave, and watchedthe troubled sand to map it come its source; soon perceiving that it came from the black orificeof a holy place a lengthy distance southern of me, almost out of sight. Versus the choking sand-cloudI plodded toward this temple, which as I neared it loomed bigger than the rest, and shewed adoorway much less clogged through caked sand. I would certainly have gone into had no the wonderful force ofthe icy wind practically quenched mine torch. It poured madly the end of the dark door, sighing uncannilyas it ruffled the sand and spread around the monster ruins. Quickly it thrived fainter and the sand grewmore and much more still, till lastly all was at rest again; yet a presence seemed stalking amongthe spectral stones the the city, and when ns glanced at the moon it seemed to quiver together thoughmirrored in unquiet waters. Ns was much more afraid than I could explain, however not sufficient to dull mythirst because that wonder; for this reason as quickly as the wind was rather gone i crossed into the dark chamber fromwhich it had actually come.This temple, as I had actually fancied indigenous the outside, was larger than either of thoseI had actually visited before; and also was maybe a organic cavern, since it boring winds from part regionbeyond. Right here I can stand fairly upright, however saw the the stones and altars were as low asthose in the various other temples. Top top the walls and also roof ns beheld because that the very first time part traces ofthe pictorial art that the old race, curious curling streaks of repaint that had nearly fadedor crumbled away; and on two of the altars I witnessed with increasing excitement a maze of well-fashionedcurvilinear carvings. As I held my torch aloft it seemed to me the the shape of the roof wastoo continuous to it is in natural, and I wonder what the ancient cutters of rock had very first workedupon. Their engineering skill must have actually been vast.Then a brighter flare that the terrific flame shewed me that for which i hadbeen seeking, the opening to those remoter abysses whence the sudden wind had blown; and I grewfaint as soon as I witnessed that it to be a small and plainly artificial door chiselled in the solidrock. I thrust mine torch within, beholding a black color tunnel v the roof arching short over a roughflight of an extremely small, numerous, and also steeply descending steps. Ns shall always see those stepsin my dreams, for I involved learn what lock meant. At the moment I solid knew even if it is to callthem procedures or just foot-holds in a precipitous descent. Mine mind to be whirling with mad thoughts,and the words and warnings the Arab prophets appeared to float throughout the desert native the landsthat men understand to the nameless city that males dare not know. Yet i hesitated only a minute beforeadvancing v the portal and commencing to climb cautiously under the steep passage, feetfirst, together though top top a ladder.It is just in the devastating phantasms of drugs or delirium that any type of other one can have had actually such a descent together mine. The small passage led infinitely down favor some hideoushaunted well, and the torch i held over my head could not light the unknown depths towards whichI was crawling. I lost track of the hours and forgot come consult mine watch, though i was frightenedwhen I believed of the distance I need to be traversing. Over there were alters of direction and ofsteepness, and once I involved a long, low, level passage where I had to wriggle feet very first alongthe rocky floor, holding mine torch at arm’s length beyond my head. The place was no highenough for kneeling. After the were more of the steep steps, and I to be still scrambling downinterminably when my failing torch died out. I perform not think i noticed it at the time, for whenI did notice it ns was quiet holding the high over me together if it were ablaze. Ns was quite unbalancedwith that instinct because that the strange and the unknown which has made me a wanderer upon planet anda haunter that far, ancient, and forbidden places.In the darkness over there flashed before my mind fragments of mine cherished treasuryof daemoniac lore; sentences from Alhazred the foolish Arab, paragraphs from the apocryphal nightmaresof Damascius, and infamous lines from the delirious image du Monde of Gauthier de Metz.I repeated queer extracts, and also muttered the Afrasiab and also the daemons that floated through him downthe Oxus; later chanting over and also over again a phrase from one of Lord Dunsany’s tales—“theunreverberate blackness the the abyss”. When when the descent grew amazingly steep i recitedsomething in sing-song from cutting board Moore until I fear to recite more:
“A reservoir of darkness, blackAs witches’ cauldrons are, when fill’dWith moon-drugs in th’ eclipse distill’d.Leaning to look if foot could passDown thro’ that chasm, ns saw, beneath,As far as vision can explore,The jetty sides together smooth as glass,Looking as if just varnish’d o’erWith the dark pitch the Sea of DeathThrows out upon that is slimy shore.”
Time had actually quite ceased to exist as soon as my feet again felt a level floor, and also Ifound myself in a place slightly higher than the rooms in the two smaller sized temples now so incalculablyfar above my head. I can not fairly stand, but could kneel upright, and in the dark ns shuffledand crept hither and thither at random. I shortly knew that I remained in a small passage whose wallswere inside wall with situations of wood having glass fronts. Together in the Palaeozoic and also abysmal location Ifelt that such points as refined wood and also glass i shuddered at the feasible implications. Thecases were apparently ranged along each next of the passage at regular intervals, and were oblongand horizontal, hideously choose coffins in shape and also size. As soon as I tried to relocate two or threefor further examination, I found they to be firmly fastened.I experienced that the passage was a long one, so floundered ahead quickly in a creepingrun the would have seemed horrible had any kind of eye watched me in the blackness; crossing from sideto side occasionally to feeling of my surroundings and also be sure the walls and rows of situations stillstretched on. Guy is so provided to thinking visually the I nearly forgot the darkness and also picturedthe countless corridor of wood and glass in its low-studded monotony together though I saw it. And thenin a minute of indescribable emotion ns did check out it.Just when my fancy merged right into real vision I can not tell; however there come a gradualglow ahead, and also all at when I knew the I observed the dim outlines of the corridor and also the cases,revealed by some unknown subterranean phosphorescence. For a little while all was precisely asI had imagined it, because the light was an extremely faint; yet as ns mechanically retained on stumbling aheadinto the more powerful light i realised the my an elaborate had been yet feeble. This room was no relicof crudity favor the holy places in the city above, however a monument that the many magnificent and also exoticart. Rich, vivid, and also daringly terrific designs and also pictures formed a consistent scheme ofmural paint whose lines and also colours were past description. The instances were of a strangegolden wood, with fronts of exquisite glass, and contained the mummified creates of creaturesoutreaching in grotesqueness the most chaotic desires of man.To convey any type of idea of this monstrosities is impossible. They to be of the reptilekind, with body lines saying sometimes the crocodile, occasionally the seal, but more oftennothing the which one of two people the naturalist or the palaeontologist ever before heard. In dimension they approximateda tiny man, and their fore legs bore delicate and also evidently flexible feet curiously like humanhands and fingers. But strangest of every were your heads, which presented a edge violatingall known biological principles. Come nothing can such points be well compared—in one flashI assumed of compare as differed as the cat, the bulldog, the mythic Satyr, and the humanbeing. Not Jove himself had actually so colossal and also protuberant a forehead, yet the horns and the noselessnessand the alligator-like jaw inserted the things external all developed categories. I questioned fora time on the truth of the mummies, fifty percent suspecting castle were man-made idols; however soon decidedthey were certainly some palaeogean types which had lived once the nameless city was alive. Tocrown your grotesqueness, many of them were gorgeously enrobed in the costliest that fabrics,and luxury laden with accessories of gold, jewels, and also unknown bright metals.The importance of this crawling creatures must have actually been vast, for they heldfirst place among the wild draft on the frescoed walls and ceiling. With matchless ability hadthe artist attracted them in a world of their own, inside they had actually cities and also gardens fashionedto fit their dimensions; and also I might not yet think the their pictured history was allegorical,perhaps shewing the progress of the gyeongju that worshipped them. These creatures, I said to myself,were come the men of the nameless city what the she-wolf to be to Rome, or some totem-beast is toa people of Indians.Holding this view, I believed I could trace roughly a wonderful epos of thenameless city; the tale of a mighty sea-coast metropolis that ruled the world prior to Africarose out of the waves, and of its battles as the sea shrank away, and also the desert crept intothe productive valley that held it. I witnessed its wars and triumphs, the troubles and also defeats, andafterward its devastating fight versus the desert when thousands the its people—here representedin allegory through the grotesque reptiles—were pushed to chisel their method down with therocks in some marvellous way to one more world whereof your prophets had actually told them. That wasall vividly weird and realistic, and its connexion v the awesome lower I had made to be unmistakable.I even recognised the passages.As i crept along the corridor towards the brighter light ns saw later stagesof the painted epic—the leave-taking of the gyeongju that had actually dwelt in the nameless city andthe valley about for ten million years; the gyeongju whose souls shrank indigenous quitting scene theirbodies had actually known for this reason long, wherein they had worked out as nomads in the earth’s youth, hewingin the virgin rock those primal shrines at which they never ever ceased come worship. Currently that thelight was better I learned the pictures much more closely, and, remembering that the strange reptilesmust stand for the unknown men, pondered upon the custom-mades of the nameless city. Plenty of thingswere peculiar and inexplicable. The civilisation, which contained a written alphabet, had actually seeminglyrisen come a higher order than those immeasurably later civilisations the Egypt and Chaldaea, yetthere to be curious omissions. Ns could, because that example, uncover no images to stand for deaths orfuneral customs, conserve such as were pertained to wars, violence, and plagues; and also I wonder atthe reticence shewn concerning natural death. That was as though suitable of earthly immortalityhad been promoted as a cheering illusion.Still nearer the end of the passage were painted scenes of the utmost picturesquenessand extravagance; contrasted see of the nameless city in the desertion and growing ruin, andof the strange brand-new realm or paradise come which the race had actually hewed its way through the stone.In these views the city and the desert valley were shewn constantly by moonlight, a gold nimbushovering end the fallen walls and half revealing the splendid perfection of previous times, shewnspectrally and also elusively through the artist. The paradisal scenes were practically too extravagant tobe believed; illustrating a hidden human being of eternal day filled with glorious cities and also etherealhills and valleys. In ~ the very last I assumed I saw signs of an creative anti-climax. The paintingswere much less skilful, and also much more bizarre than also the wildest that the previously scenes. Lock seemedto document a slow-moving decadence of the ancient stock, coupled v a farming ferocity toward theoutside people from which it was thrust by the desert. The forms of the people—always representedby the spiritual reptiles—appeared come be gradually wasting away, despite their heart as shewnhovering about the damages by moonlight got in proportion. Emaciated priests, shown asreptiles in ornate robes, cursed the top air and all who breathed it; and one devastating finalscene shewed a primitive-looking man, possibly a pioneer of ancient Irem, the City of Pillars,torn to piece by members the the elder race. Ns remembered how the Arabs are afraid the nameless city,and was glad that past this ar the grey walls and ceiling were bare.As I viewed the pageant the mural history I had approached really closely theend the the low-ceiled hall, and was mindful of a an excellent gate through which came all of the illuminatingphosphorescence. Creeping approximately it, i cried great in transcendent amazement at what put beyond;for rather of other and brighter chambers there was just an illimitable void the uniform radiance,such together one might an intricate when gazing under from the height of mount Everest top top a sea that sunlitmist. Behind me to be a passage so cramped the I could not stand upright in it; prior to me wasan infinity that subterranean effulgence.Reaching under from the passage into the abyss to be the head of a steep flightof steps—small many steps prefer those of the black passages I had actually traversed—butafter a couple of feet the glowing vapours concealed everything. Swung back open versus the left-handwall of the passage was a massive door the brass, incredibly thick and decorated through fantasticbas-reliefs, which could if closed closeup of the door the entirety inner world of light far from the vaultsand i of rock. Ns looked at the steps, and for the nonce dared not try them. Ns touchedthe open brass door, and could not move it. Then ns sank prone to the stone floor, mine mind aflamewith prodigious reflect which not even a death-like exhaustion can banish.As ns lay still with closed eyes, totally free to ponder, numerous things I had actually lightlynoted in the frescoes came earlier to me with new and destructive significance—scenes representingthe nameless city in that heyday, the vegetation the the valley around it, and also the far-off landswith i m sorry its vendors traded. The allegory that the crawling creatures puzzled me by its universalprominence, and I wondered that it have to be so carefully followed in a pictured background of suchimportance. In the frescoes the nameless city had actually been shewn in proportions equipment to the reptiles.I wonder what its genuine proportions and also magnificence had been, and also reflected a minute on certainoddities I had noticed in the ruins. I believed curiously that the lowness the the primal templesand that the secret corridor, which were doubtless hewn for this reason out that deference to the reptiledeities there honoured; despite it perforce diminished the worshippers to crawling. Probably thevery rites had associated a crawling in imitation the the creatures. No spiritual theory, however,could easily explain why the level i in that awesome descent need to be as low as the temples—orlower, since one can not also kneel in it. Together I thought of the crawling creatures, who hideousmummified creates were so close to me, i felt a brand-new throb the fear. Mental associations space curious,and ns shrank native the idea that other than for the poor primitive male torn to pieces in the lastpainting, mine to be the just human form amidst the plenty of relics and symbols that primordial life.But as constantly in my strange and roving existence, wonder shortly drove the end fear;for the luminous abyss and what it could contain presented a difficulty worthy the the greatestexplorer. The a weird world of mystery lay far down that trip of peculiarly tiny steps Icould not doubt, and I hoped to discover there those human being memorials which the painted corridorhad failed to give. The frescoes had pictured unbelievable cities, hills, and valleys in thislower realm, and also my fancy dwelt on the rich and colossal ruins that awaited me.My fears, indeed, concerned the previous rather 보다 the future. Not even the physicalhorror the my position in the cramped corridor that dead reptiles and antediluvian frescoes, milesbelow the civilization I knew and faced by another world that eerie light and mist, could match the lethaldread ns felt in ~ the abysmal antiquity of the scene and its soul. An ancientness so vast thatmeasurement is feeble seemed to leer down from the primal stones and rock-hewn holy places in thenameless city, when the really latest that the astounding maps in the frescoes shewed oceans andcontinents the man has forgotten, with only here and there part vaguely acquainted outline. Ofwhat can have happened in the geological aeons because the paints ceased and also the death-hatingrace resentfully succumbed to decay, no man can say. Life had once teemed in these cavernsand in the luminous realm beyond; now I to be alone v vivid relics, and also I trembled come thinkof the plenty of ages v which this relics had actually kept a silent and also deserted vigil.Suddenly there came one more burst of the acute are afraid which had intermittentlyseized me ever since I very first saw the destructive valley and also the nameless city under a cold moon,and in spite of my fatigue I discovered myself starting frantically come a sit posture and gazingback along the black corridor toward the tunnels that climbed to the outer world. My sensationswere much like those which had made me shun the nameless city in ~ night, and also were as inexplicableas they to be poignant. In another moment, however, I obtained a still greater shock in the formof a identify sound—the an initial which had broken the utter quiet of this tomb-like depths.It to be a deep, low moaning, as of a remote throng the condemned spirits, and also came from the directionin which i was staring. That volume rapidly grew, till soon it reverberated frightfully throughthe short passage, and also at the same time ns became conscious of an increasing draught the cold air,likewise flowing from the tunnels and the city above. The touch that this air appeared to restoremy balance, for i instantly recalled the suddenly gusts which had actually risen around the mouth of theabyss every sunset and also sunrise, one of which had actually indeed served to expose the hidden tunnels tome. Ns looked in ~ my watch and also saw that sunrise was near, so braced myself to resist the galewhich to be sweeping down to the cavern house as it had swept soon at evening. My fear again wanedlow, because a organic phenomenon tends to dispel broodings over the unknown.More and an ext madly poured the shrieking, moaning night-wind right into that gulfof the within earth. I dropped vulnerable again and also clutched vainly at the floor for fear of beingswept bodily through the open up gate right into the phosphorescent abyss. Such rage I had actually not expected,and as I grew aware of an yes, really slipping that my kind toward the abyss i was beset by a thousandnew terror of apprehension and imagination. The malignancy of the blast awakened incrediblefancies; once an ext I compared myself shudderingly come the just other person image in that frightfulcorridor, the man who was torn to piece by the nameless race, for in the fiendish clawing ofthe swirling currents there seemed to abide a vindictive rage all the stronger since it waslargely impotent. Ns think i screamed frantically near the last—I was almost mad—butif i did so mine cries were lost in the hell-born babel that the howling wind-wraiths. Ns tried tocrawl versus the murderous invisible torrent, yet I might not also hold my own as ns was pushedslowly and also inexorably towards the unknown world. Finally reason must have actually wholly snapped, forI dropped to babbling over and also over that unexplainable couplet that the foolish Arab Alhazred, that dreamedof the nameless city:
“That is notdead which have the right to eternal lie,And with strange aeons even death maydie.”
Only the grim brooding desert gods know what yes, really took place—what indescribablestruggles and scrambles in the dark I sustained or what Abaddon guided me earlier to life, whereI must always remember and also shiver in the night-wind it rotates oblivion—or worse—claimsme. Monstrous, unnatural, colossal, to be the thing—too far beyond all the concepts of manto be thought except in the quiet damnable little hours when one cannot sleep.I have said that the fury of the rushing blast was infernal—cacodaemoniacal—andthat the voices to be hideous v the pent-up viciousness the desolate eternities.

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Presentlythose voices, while tho chaotic before me, appeared to mine beating brain to take articulate formbehind me; and down over there in the dig of unnumbered aeon-dead antiquities, leagues below thedawn-lit people of men, i heard the ghastly cursing and also snarling of strange-tongued fiends. Turning,I observed outlined versus the luminous aether of the abyss what might not be seen against the duskof the corridor—a nightmare horde the rushing devils; hate-distorted, grotesquely panoplied,half-transparent; devils the a gyeongju no man could mistake—the crawling reptiles the the namelesscity.And as the wind passed away away i was plunged into the ghoul-peopled blackness ofearth’s bowels; because that behind the last of the creatures the an excellent brazen door clanged shutwith a deafening peal the metallic music who reverberations swelled the end to the distant worldto hail the climbing sun together Memnon hails the from the financial institutions of the Nile.