The White Ship was written by Lovecraft in 1919. It has a different feel to it: a dreamy, rambling tone that reminds me of Polaris.

The narrator is Basil Elton “keeper of the North Point light that my father and grandfather kept before me.” Basil is fascinated by the ocean and by the stories he imagines it could tell, “the secret lore of ocean.” He watches the sea night after night, trying to catch a glimpse of objects far in the distance or deep beneath the surface.

Out of the South it was that the White Ship used to come when the moon was full and high in the heavens. Out of the South it would glide very smoothly and silently over the sea. And whether the sea was rough or calm, and whether the wind was friendly or adverse, it would always glide smoothly and silently, its sails distant and its long strange tiers of oars moving rhythmically.

He spots the captain of the White Ship, a bearded and robed man who beckons to him and one night he crosses to the ship on a “bridge of moonbeams.” Together they journey into the mysterious South.

They visit many strange places and they are all described with lovely, poetic language. At the end of their sea voyage they come to a waterfall “wherein the oceans of the world drop down to abysmal nothingness.” As the ship begins to plummet over the edge Basil closes his eyes, bracing himself for the inevitable crash.

He then opens his eyes to the sound of the crash and realizes he is standing on the platform of his lighthouse. The light has gone out while he was on his (dream?) journey. A ship has crashed on the rocks and when he examines the wreckage he is saddened to discover it may have been the White Ship that crashed.

And thereafter the ocean told me its secrets no more; and though many times since has the moon shone full and high in the heavens, the White Ship from the South came never again.

The White Ship reminds me a lot of Polaris in that it features a protagonist who journeys far away to a dreamlike land yet winds up failing at the job he has been given. In The White Ship the job was in the “real” world and his failure resulted in a shipwreck. In Polaris the narrator was given a job in the “dream” world but couldn’t complete it because he was pulled back to the “real” world.

There’s a definite theme here and it is tempting to speculate about Lovecraft’s psychological make-up based on some of the stories he has written. Without going too far out on the limb, I think we can say that frustration was a definite part of the lens through which he viewed the world.

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