A couple years ago I read The Quest of Iranon and I wrote a lengthy post to comment on it. The Mercurial Iranon, dressed in the royal purple. His journeying through seven lands like the Prince of Aira (transliterated and read right-to-left, that's Old Persian for Persia), the "whirling dancers from the Liranian desert". The Peter Pan-like eternal youth... There were many interesting little tidbits, but not a very compelling story. My comments on these things were longer than Lovecraft's story.
But now I return to that post I drafted so long ago and I find it blank. Nothing but the title. And my memory needed refreshing, so I reread the story. It's a quick read. This time around I was struck by something new.
Iranon's joy and youth are in the memory of his mother and of Aira. There are no fond memories of Iranon's father, the King.
"...my calling is to make beauty with the things remembered of childhood. My wealth is in little memories and dreams, and in hopes that I sing in gardens when the moon is tender and the west wind stirs the lotus-buds."
"I remember the twilight, the moon, and soft songs, and the window where I was rocked to sleep. And through the window was the street where the golden lights came, and where the shadows danced on houses of marble. I remember the square of moonlight on the floor, that was not like any other light, and the visions that danced on the moonbeams when my mother sang to me. And too, I remember the sun of morning bright above the many-coloured hills in summer, and the sweetness of flowers borne on the south wind that made the trees sing."
When Iranon finds a very old childhood friend, the friend reminds him his father was no King and Iranon has been chasing a dream of what never was:
"O stranger, i have indeed heard the name of Aira, and the other names thou hast spoken, but they come to me from afar down the waste of long years.I heard them in my youth from the lips of a playmate, a beggar's boy given to strange dreams, who would weave long tales about the moon and the flowers and the west wind. We used to laugh at him, for we knew him from his birth though he thought himself a King's son."With fantasy shattered, Iranon quickly became what he was.
"And in the twilight, as the stars came out one by one and the moon cast on the marsh a radiance like that which a child sees quivering on the floor as he is rocked to sleep at evening, there walked into the lethal quicksands a very old man in tattered purple, crowned with withered vine-leaves and gazing ahead as if upon the golden domes of a fair city where dreams are understood. That night something of youth and beauty died in the elder world."
Two months after writing "The Quest of Iranon", Lovecraft's mother died due to complications of a gal bladder surgery. The moon was bright. The flowers were in bloom. And the west wind was blowing.