Droggoth – Jonathan Van Belle

“Droggoth, droggoth, feer’in spew, hrottest feeri’n spew thote burn allyn sins awayn.

Droggoth, droggoth, kommen hir to burn awoth allyn mine payn.”

These lines from Altholm’s Morica attest to the existence of the droggoth, whose habitation, though unknown today, is likeliest deep beneath the boreal forests of Medgidia in south-eastern Tromani. The 20th-century Tromani poet Dathomir is the last (presumed) eyewitness of the Droggoth. In his 1945 poem “Hateful Witness,” Dathomir writes from the perspective of a “Droggothak,” a person sentenced to that protracted and awful death by Droggoth (this particular Droggothak sentenced in the Medgidian “Trials” of January 1945):

Burn away, once ripe, once effusive, once high spirit,

For the clock’s a cross, a crown of shed skin, its wages debts,

Where the joy-bled end comes long before the worms.

“Go away,” the world would say, if it could speak,

But the world is silent with idiot silence,

Which some call love.

Swaddle me in fire, that my body may bear true witness

To the searing and sky-blackening it stored inside;

But to whom my hateful witness?

Gather my foul parts up for a pyre,

For those children who love life still;

Let them see me char that their little souls chill.

Watch their child faces watch my body burn and you shall see:

All hope in God is only disbelief

That this world could be the atrocity that it seems.

The atrocity language is appropriate; the history of the Droggoth and its use in human affairs is described similarly by historian Anne Coleman as “indigestible atrocity.” Altholm’s Morica is therefore ironic; the burning away of sin and pain being the opposite of Droggoth’s “hrottest feer’in” or hottest fire, which rather magnifies pain. The anonymous 13th-century poem “De Contemptu Mundi” (“On Contempt for the World”) vividly portrays this pain:

Thy fires flesh repair forever to feed thy fires forever;

The newborn touched writhes today an old man burning yet.

Contemptu ends, like Dathomir’s Hateful Witness, with a theological question mark:

“Not God and Droggoth both,” saith our wise;

“Deny the heart or doubt the eyes.”



Jonathan van Belle is a bookseller at Powell’s. He’s the author of three books, including the pre-posthumously published Charter Party Companion to Private Holidays (all available in the most spider-infested kudzu undergrowth of Amazon). At the moment, Jonathan is working to build a philosophical community in Portland, with the aim of establishing a permanent residence for the Portland Philosophy Museum.

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