wealth_news

noun

  1. a sound, healthy or prosperous state

[origin: prior to 12th century; Middle English wele, from Old English wela; akin to Old English wel well ]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

King Geraint turned to his faithful friends:
“Here the war and my kingdom ends.
“Many have died in this red fray,
“More shall die ere the death of day.
“Turn, I beg you, your steeds toward home;
“Seek your safety beyond the foam.
“Naught is left for a crownless king
“But a kingly death where the broadswords sing.
“But there is no need for you all to die;
“Turn, I beg you, to safety fly.”

Cadallon’s hauberk was seeping red;
But he laughed like a wolf as he shook his head:
“I turn my back when my foes are dead.
“I am a king in my own land
“Though my only crown is a bloody brand.
“I only wish to charge and close
“And gain to the thickest of my foes.”

From his battered Welsh a fierce yell rose.
Said Conmac: “With my last-drawn breath
“I follow my king to life or death.”
Nial’s eyes blazed with a light
Mystic, more than mortal sight.
“Never in all the world,” said he,
“Is one who touches in chivalry,
“Knighthood, honor without taint,
“And kingly courage, thou, Geraint!
“Come weal or evil, time or tide,
“Shoulder to shoulder with you I ride,
“And in death I will still be at your side.”

Few were Turlogh’s words and brief
As well befitted a Gaelic chief:
“While Geraint lives I follow the king.”

[from “The Ballad of King Geraint”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 73 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 359]

This entry filed under Howard's Poetry, Word of the Week.

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Another enjoyable Howard Days has come and gone, and it is safe to say that any who attended were glad they did.  The number of attendees on June 10th and 11th seemed to be a bit above average, reflecting a trend toward straining the capacity of current venues and program formats.  The panel audiences are already larger than could be served by formerly used facilities like the Cross Plains Library and the Howard House Pavilion.  Panels this year were held at the CP High School and the CP Senior Center.  Many new faces were evident at the banquet in the Community Center.  The weather was hot but otherwise pleasant, though mosquito repellent was sometimes required.

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The day before the festivities began, the staff of the Cross Plains Review newspaper kindly offered a tour of their old facilities, complete with antique printing press and other equipment.  Original copies of editions containing articles about or by Robert E. Howard were on display.

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On Friday, following the bus tour of the CP area hosted by Project Pride veteran Don Clark, a panel composed of Rusty Burke, Bill Cavalier, and Susan McNeel-Childers discussed the first 30 years of Howard Days celebrations.  REHupans Burke and Vern Clark made an initial foray to Cross Plains in 1985.  Impressed by the wide open spaces of Texas and even more by how imaginative Howard must have been to have envisioned stories in such settings, Burke thought that other serious fans might be lured to visit Cross Plains, and so organized a trip there the next year by ten REHupans, including Cavalier and Glenn Lord.  The Friends of the Library, headed by Joan McCowen, gave a gracious reception to those they called international scholars on June 6th, which the mayor proclaimed to be “Robert Howard Day.”  Those the visitors talked to included Cross Plains Review editor Jack Scott, head librarian Billie Ruth Loving, REH heirs Alla Ray Kuykendall and Alla Ray Morris, and Charlotte Laughlin of Howard Payne University in Brownwood.  Laughlin would act to preserve what remained of REH’s personal book collection that his father had donated to HPU and which now resides in the Howard House.  Seeing the commercial possibilities in attracting more such visitors, the founding members of Project Pride (originally created to spruce up the downtown area of Cross Plains) bought the Howard House in 1989, which Project Pride then renovated and operated as a museum with the aid of donations.  Alla Ray Morris contributed $10,000 to Project Pride just before her death in 1995. The money was used to install central heat and air conditioning and to remodel the inside of the house. Project Pride also received a portion of Alla Ray’s estate and that money was used to build the pavilion next to the house and finish the remodeling. The pavilion was completed in 2000 and dedicated to Alla Ray. By that time Howard Days had become an annual 2-day event organized by Project Pride and REHupa, who have done so much to welcome and educate fans of the Texas author and to change the once-low opinion of many of the residents regarding Howard and his admirers.

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Guest of Honor Michael Scott Myers spoke at the banquet and was interviewed by REHupan Mark Finn at a Friday panel marking the 20th anniversary of the film The Whole Wide World, which Myers had adapted from the memoir One Who Walked Alone, written by Howard’s sometime girlfriend Novalyne Price Ellis.  Myers was a speech student of Ellis during her last years at Louisiana State University.  As a movie publicist, Myers saw the potential in making a small independent film based on her book, but many individual factors have to align before such a movie can be made.  Myers optioned the book for $20 and wrote the script between 1989 and 1994.  Director Dan Ireland and the actor portraying REH, Vincent D’Onofrio were on board early on.  Replacing actress Olivia d’Abo, who had become pregnant, in Novalyne’s part was Renee Zellweger in her first major role.  TWWW was filmed over 3 and a half weeks in the summer of 1996 for $1.2M.  While it did well at the Sundance Film Festival, an unfavorable release date held the film back until positive reviews led to its success on home video and cable TV.  It served as many people’s introduction to REH, and the film helped to bring a less narrow, more nuanced, and very human portrayal of the author to the fan public.  Ellis did see and enjoy the movie.  After the interview, TWWW was screened in the high school auditorium.

The Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards were bestowed Friday afternoon.  The winners are spotlighted elsewhere on this blog.

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REHupans Mark Finn, Chris Gruber, and Jeffrey Shanks staged another of their always entertaining “Fists at the Ice House” presentations outdoors at the site where Howard boxed with his friends and locals.  This sport, REH’s part in it, and his boxing fiction were the subjects.  Experts on these stories, the speakers recommended them highly to all.  Even if one is not into the sport, the surprisingly good humor of the yarns will be enough to get one through them.  And Howard’s enthusiasm and versatility shed light on important aspects of the author’s personality that one might have no clue about if one is familiar only with his fantasy tales.  Howard’s boxing and boxing stories served as vital releases for the pressures and frustrations that were dogging him at the time.

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The first panel on Saturday concerned REH and artist Frank Frazetta, who painted the covers of most of the Lancer Conan paperbacks of the late 1960s which did so much to attract readers to Howard’s fiction.  The panelists were REHupans Rusty Burke, Bill Cavalier, Gary Romeo, and Jeff Shanks.  Cavalier called the publication of Conan the Adventurer the single most significant event in the history of Howard publishing and the one that drew him in personally.  Shanks noted that this was the 50th anniversary of that event.  Frazetta had illustrated comic books, but it was his covers of Edgar Rice Burroughs paperbacks that got him noticed.  Frazetta’s artistic resonance with the material made for an impressive product that was greater than the sum of its parts.  Burke said that the Conan stories had come out earlier in book form as Arkham House and Gnome Press hardbacks.  Writer L. Sprague de Camp was a fan of REH and, working with agent Oscar Friend, took on the editing of the Conan reprints.  Romeo explained that de Camp assiduously shopped the stories to publishers, finally hooking Lancer’s Larry Shaw, as well as Frazetta by letting him keep the ownership of his art.  Romeo thinks that Frazetta’s art was a big part of Conan’s appeal, but not as much as the prose itself.  Burke added that, though you can’t judge a book by its cover, the cover can be important in providing an essential good first impression of and introduction to the character.  Shanks observed that, even though the images were static, Frazetta’s dynamic, exciting poses were a game changer for fantastic art.

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pent68711_f496

adjective

  1. shut up; confined

[origin: ca. 1550; probably from past participle of obsolete English pend to confine]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Drowsy and dull with age the houses blink,
On aimless streets that youthfulness forget —
But what time-grisly figures glide and slink
Down the old alleys when the moon has set?

They say foul things of Old Times still lurk
In Dark forgotten corners of the world,
And gates still gape to loose, on certain nights,
Shapes pent in hell . . .

Tread not where stony deserts hold
Lost secrets of an alien land,
And gaunt against the sunset’s gold
Colossal nightmare towers stand.

[from “The House in the Oaks”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 236 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 35]

This entry filed under Howard's Poetry, Word of the Week.

Ellis8-e1466003667620

TGR contributor Barbara Barrett recently visited the home of Doug Ellis and his wife and had the opportunity to take some photos of their massive collection of pulp and fantasy art. Here’s Barbara’s introduction to the photos of the artwork:

A Pulp Art Mind-Blowing Experience

While I was in Ohio for three weeks in April, John DeWalt and I went to the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention Show which was held Friday through Sunday, April 22, 23 and 24th 2016. But the day before, on Thursday, April 21st, we were very fortunate to attend an Open House at the home of Doug Ellis (coordinator and manager of the Windy) and his wife, Deb Fulton.

John and I arrived about noon. After I introduced myself to Doug—and keeping in mind a request I had from Neil Mechem of Girasol Collectables—I asked if I could photograph the pulp covers Neil needed. I took out my camera as I followed Doug downstairs to a library-like room filled with stacks of book shelves containing plastic covered pulp magazines. It’s well organized and within a few minutes he checked here and then in another room on the second floor. Unfortunately, he didn’t have those particular issues.

When Doug went back to his other guests, my camera was out and ready but it was difficult to know where to begin. John DeWalt had told me Doug Ellis has an extensive pulp and art collection but nothing prepared me for how awesome it is. The paintings cover most of the wall space in their three floor, five-bedroom+ home. Even the bathrooms contained works of art.

With Doug’s permission to photograph his collection, I snapped pictures until the battery died in my camera. I apologize for the spot of bright light in some of them. Almost all the paintings and drawings were framed and covered with glass making them very difficult to photograph. None of the art identifies the artist. However, many of the readers here will recognize the work of their favorites.

I hope you enjoy the photos. Walking through those rooms with pulp magazines and artwork everywhere I looked is an experience I’ll remember for a long time.

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This entry filed under Collecting Howard, Howard Illustrated.

Maul2ce53250c3c95e589a33d74c9bac-e1464970378278

noun

  1. a heavy often wooden-headed hammer used especially for driving wedges; a tool like a sledgehammer with one wedge-shaped end that is used to split wood

[origin: ca. 13th century; Middle English malle mace, maul, from Anglo-French mail, from Latin malleus; akin to Old Church Slavic mlatu hammer, Latin molere to grind]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

A silence falls along the halls;
The lions mutter in the gloom.
How Time along the hours crawls
Like some great sluggish worm of doom.

My heartbeats fall, a striking maul.
Because my thews are hard and strong,
Within the hour I must fall
To meet the blood lust of the throng.

Along the halls a trumpet calls.
The red arena glimmers nigh.
Thor, let me mock these fools of Rome,
And show them how a Goth can die.

[from “The Cells of the Coliseum”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 530; A Rhyme of Salem Town, p. 68 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 185]

This entry filed under Howard's Poetry, Word of the Week.

bobby1_n-e1465824586645

The 2016 Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards were announced at an awards ceremony held on the afternoon of June 10th in Cross Plains. Here are the winners:

The Atlantean — Outstanding Achievement, Book (non-anthology/collection)

DERIE, BOBBY – The Collected Letters of REH: Index and Addenda (REH Foundation Press)

The Hyrkanian—Outstanding Achievement, Essay (Print

SHANKS, JEFFREY – “Evolutionary Otherness: Anthropological Anxiety in Robert E. Howard’s ‘Worms of the Earth’” The Unique Legacy of Weird Tales

The Cimmerian—Outstanding Achievement, Essay (Online)

TIE:

BARRETT, BARBARA – “Hester Jane Ervin Howard and Tuberculosis (3 parts)” REH: Two Gun Raconteur Blog

PISKE, DAVID – “Barbarism and Civilization in the Letters of Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft: A Summary with Commentary (6 parts)” On an Underwood No. 5

The Venarium — Emerging Scholar

DERIE, BOBBY – Contributed essays to TGR blog, On an Underwood No. 5, and compiled the The Collected Letters of REH: Index and Addenda

The Stygian—Outstanding Achievement, Website

REH: TWO-GUN RACONTEUR BLOG (Damon Sasser)

The Aquilonian — Outstanding Achievement, Periodical

REH: TWO GUN RACONTEUR (Damon Sasser)

The Black Lotus – Outstanding Achievement, Multimedia

FRIBERG, BEN – Howard Days Panels (videos)

The Black River—Special Achievement

ROEHM, ROB – For his biographical research published at the REH: Two-Gun Raconteur Blog, On an Underwood No. 5, and the Black Gate website.

The Rankin — Artistic achievement in the depiction of REH’s life and/or work (Art must have made its first public published appearance in the previous calendar year.)

GIORELLO, TOMAS and JOSE VILLARRUBIA: Cover and interior artwork for adaptation of “Wolves Beyond the Border” King Conan: Wolves Beyond the Border issue 1 (Dark Horse)

Black Circle Award – Lifetime Achievement

THOMAS, ROY – Approved

Congratulations to all the winners.

A Note from the Editor: Having received the The Stygian and The Aquilonian awards, I want to thank all the contributors to both the blog and print journal and I also want to thank all the Howard fans who read and support the REH: Two-Gun Raconteur blog and journal. None of this would be possible without you. And I must congratulate Barbara Barrett for her fine essay that won her The Cimmerian award for her series “Hester Jane Ervin Howard and Tuberculosis” posted on the blog, and David Piske as well since it was a dead heat between these two fine Howard scholars.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Shanks.

helenPirate-Queen-Teuta-Of-Illyria

The dandy of the longboat stood before me. Faith, he was smaller than I had thought, though supple and lithe. Boots of fine Spanish leather he wore on his trim legs, and above them tight breeches of doeskin. A fine crimson sash with tassels and rings to the ends was round his slim waist, and from it jutted the silver butts of two pistols. A blue coat with flaring tails and gold buttons gaped open to disclose the frilled and laced shirt beneath.

[…]

Now I looked for the first time at the face. It was a delicate oval with red lips that curled in mockery, large grey eyes that danced, and only then did I realize that I was looking at a woman and not a man.

— Robert E. Howard, “The Isle of Pirates’ Doom”

The year was 1669. Port Royal, the buccaneer’s haven in Jamaica, buzzed with gossip about Roger O’Farrel’s adopted daughter. On a voyage with Captain Hilton, one of the most ruthless men afloat, she had shown she took after the redoubtable O’Farrel, and at the end she had departed quickly, for she did not trust Hilton an inch and thought he might give her to the English governor.  This displeased Hilton, of course, as her giving him the slip made him look something of a jackass. Henry Morgan roared with laughter over the tale, though he would have handed Helen and O’Farrel both to his friend Governor Modyford without hesitation, could he lay hands on them. “Bog-trotting rebel in bed with the double damned Dons,” Morgan had said alliteratively of O’Farrel.

O’Farrel had left Havana after a quarrel with its crooked Captain General, and settled in Santiago on the southern coast, a city with a Captain General no less peccant. The two officials loathed each other, but Santiago’s administrator for the sake of appearances had to send back the ship with which O’Farrel had absconded and assure his rival the impudent Irish pirate would be arrested and chastised, then returned to Havana to answer charges. These assurances cost only the breath behind them.

blackbeard-in-smoke-and-flames-frank-schoonover-1922O’Farrel was quick to acquire more pirate craft, beginning with a couple of cedar piraguas able to carry half a hundred men each, and then a fast sloop like Hilton’s Wyvern. Helen worked with her beloved foster father as he smuggled, dealt with ranchers inland in southern Cuba, and engaged in other sorts of illicit trading, but he had largely abandoned piracy, and perhaps Helen saw him as getting older and wishing to settle down; he was nearing fifty. Youthful, wild as the sea and restless, Helen sailed with other captains besides O’Farrel – “Hilton, Hansen and le Ban between times,” as she said to Harmer later, and added, “Gower is the first captain to offer me insult.”  I imagine Captain (Arnaud?) le Ban as a gaudy, extravagant stallion from Provence, in a crimson coat with silver slashes, lace and a splendid cocked hat, with a ready cutlass. His preferred haunt would have been Tortuga, his preferred ship, a heavily armed square-rigger. As for Hansen – Troels Hansen, perhaps – he could have been Danish, a moody, hard-drinking rogue who favored akvavit distilled with amber and caraway over rum, hard as the former would have been to get in the Caribbean. Nor was he subtle. I suspect he hacked down his victims with an axe or blew them in half with a blunderbuss.

“Sots, murderers, thieves, gallows birds,” Helen said of them to Stephen Harmer, “all save Captain Roger O’Farrel.”

Besides the above rovers, and historically known ones like Roche Brasiliano and Henry Morgan, there were other fictional pirates of REH’s  apparently looting in that decade. Black Terence Vulmea is due a series of his own, but I deduce he was about 22 years old in 1669 and had but recently turned pirate, after a couple of voyages to the Slave Coast in West Africa. Actually, I believe he was then sailing with the Dutch sea-robber Laurens de Graaf. Another Dutch pirate mentioned by Vulmea and Wentyard in “Black Vulmea’s Vengeance” was van Raven, “a bird of passage.” There were also Harston of Bristol, and “Tranicos.” (L. Sprague de Camp brought a “Bloody Tranicos” into “The Black Stranger” when he rewrote it for the Conan series, as “The Treasure of Tranicos,” but that was the sort of recycling REH often did himself.)  I assume the “Tranicos” referred to in “BVV” was a Greek who first saw daylight by the bay of Piraeus, Gregor Tranicos, and before reaching the Caribbean he had served in the Ottoman navy during the reign of Sultan Mehmed IV (“the Hunter”). In 1669 he was nearing thirty-five. Guillaume Villiers appears in “Swords of the Red Brotherhood,” which comes chronologically (I think) about four years before “BVV.” But Villiers was not yet a pirate in 1669. I surmise he was a junior officer in the French navy.

Dick Harston of Bristol, the same age as Vulmea, was a young pirate, with years to go before he rose to captain, and may have sailed with Hilton, le Ban or Hansen on one of the same cruises as Helen. There were the brothers John and Tobias Gower, brutal even among the buccaneers, who had been with l’Ollonais on his last voyage, but deserted before the final disaster. Pierre le Picard had done likewise. Another French buccaneer, de Romber, whose name appears in “The Isle of Pirates’ Doom” may still have been on the scene in the West Indies, or he may have perished.

Surely it was while mixing with such men, and O’Farrel’s rovers too, that Helen first heard the legend of Mogar. It’s a curious name that sounds unlike any Carib or Arawak word, and may be a corruption that became current among the pirates, but as Helen says, “… when the Spaniards first sailed the main, they found an island whereon was a decaying empire … The Dons destroyed these natives …”  Naturally the story of a vast treasure arose, the sort of tale fortune-hunters always want to believe. John Gower eventually came to the island and searched for it, in “TIoPD”.

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This entry filed under Howard's Fiction, L. Sprague de Camp.

stow1-on-the-wold36big-e1464969857858

noun

  1. a usually upland area of open country; a hilly or rolling region

[origin: ca. prior to 12th century; Middle English wald, wold, from Old English weald, wald forest; akin to Old High German wald forest, Old Norse vǫllr field]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Men say my years are few; yet I am old
And worn with the toil of many wars,
And long for rest on some brown wind-swept wold,
Unknown of men, beneath the quiet stars.

These greybeards prattle while I hold my tongue,
And flaunt their callow wisdom drearily—
White-headed babes to me, whom they brand “young,”
With knowledge gained through ages wearily.

I too have strode those white-paved roads that run
Through dreamy woodlands to the Roman Wall,
Have seen the white towns gleaming in the sun,
And heard afar the elf-like trumpet call.

[from “The Guise of Youth”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 260 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 171]

This entry filed under Howard's Poetry, Word of the Week.

gloomy_mountains_by_doodlethedemon89-d8q3lql

My soul’s a flame of divine fire, a god’s voice . . .

–Robert E. Howard

The poem “Cimmeria” is usually placed (by the relatively few critics who have considered Robert E. Howard’s poetry and poetics at all) among Howard’s most important published poems. Admirers and literary critics who have considered chiefly his fiction also see it as significant, primarily because of its connection to the Conan cycle of stories. As Rusty Burke relates the story of the beginnings of Howard’s Conan tales, the poem seems to immediately precede the inspiration for Conan:

In February 1932, Howard took his trip down to the Rio Grande Valley, passing through Fredericksburg. While he was in Mission, he wrote the poem “Cimmeria” (at least, so he told Emil Petaja when he sent him a copy of the poem: “Written in Mission, Texas, February 1932; suggested by the memory of the hill-country above Fredericksburg seen in a mist of winter rain.”). At some time during his stay in the Valley, Conan came to him. He returned to Cross Plains via San Antonio, where he stayed a few days. “The Phoenix on the Sword” and “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” were both returned to him by Farnsworth Wright in a letter dated March 10, so obviously had been sent to Weird Tales some time before that. (Burke, “Without Effort On My Part,” The Iron Harp 1, Vernal Equinox, 2001)

Aside from its seeming importance as the poetic flash that kindled Howard’s imagination to the resultant cycle of Conan tales, the poem is interesting in its own right for several reasons.

First, as one of Howard’s only two uses, as it seems, of blank verse (at least of Howard’s extant poetry), it represents an interesting foray into the dominant serious narrative/dramatic poetic form of the English language.

Second, it further demonstrates Howard’s knowledge of and serious study of poetics and gives further evidence of a broad reading experience in the forms and traditions of poetry in English.

Third, simply by its use of blank verse, the seriousness and significance of the subject matter of the poem to Robert E. Howard is likely indicated.

Fourth, it is a marvelous, although quite brief, example of blank verse technique and a demonstration of Howard’s skills and tendencies as a narrative poet.

Fifth and finally for my purposes here, not only is this poetic subject, as indicated by the choice of poetic form, important for Howard, but it is quite possibly of seminal importance to an understanding of his world view and philosophical vision, especially because of its last section—often not included in early printings.

Before addressing these points, it is best to briefly review the origins and tradition of blank verse and its ascendency as a vehicle for heroic narrative and dramatic presentation.

“Blank Verse” in its loosest definition is unrhymed but metered poetry (in other words, verse and not free verse, but without rhyme). In its usual and narrower sense, blank verse is unrhymed iambic pentameter (lines of ten syllables with the even numbered syllables stressed or accented—at least as the basic rhythm, from which there is allowable subtle variation). Sometimes even called “Heroics” [see Lewis Turco, The Book of Forms], blank verse has been firmly established as the primary mode for serious poetic narrative in English since the sixteenth century.

To give credit where credit is due for its introduction into English, we must go back to another Howard, Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey (often called simply “Surrey”) who used the form in his translation of Virgil’s The Aeneid. Surrey was also the inventor of the sonnet form later used by Shakespeare and since known as the “Shakespearean” or “English” sonnet. [Alas, for Surrey! But such are the ways of fame and forgetfulness.] In any event, Surry’s use of blank verse, done chiefly in “closed lines”— in lines usually end-stopped by punctuation— marked the beginning of the narrative and heroic traditions that blank verse was to maintain.

The plays, not only of Shakespeare, but also of Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, and Ben Jonson, were composed primarily in this meter as well, establishing blank verse as the vehicle for serious dramatic poetry in that other important mode of story telling. Later in the seventeenth century, John Milton used it for Paradise Lost. And after the chiming, rhyming heyday of the closed couplet through the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, nineteenth century poets like Tennyson (“Ulysses” and The Idylls of the King and Browning (“Fra Lippo Lippi“) reinvigorated the form for both narrative and dramatic purposes, respectively. In Robert E. Howard’s own era, Robert Frost made much use of the form in poems like “Mending Wall” and [after Shakespeare as is clear from the title’s reference to Macbeth] “Out, out!

Thus, by the time of Robert E. Howard’s nurturing in the ways of poetry, the dominant narrative poetic traditions in English were two: blank verse and the ballad. I have elsewhere discussed Howard’s frequent and innovative use of the ballad stanza as his preferred narrative form [see “Notes on Two Versions of an Unpublished Poem by Robert E. Howard” in The Dark Man #6 and other articles]. Much more study on REH’s preferred narrative pattern and innovation upon the ballad stanza— both the traditional and literary ballad— and upon his use of other exotic forms for the narrative (especially the sonnet) needs to be done. But his almost sole use of blank verse for “Cimmeria” is worthy of this and other studies.

First of all, the poem is the unique instance of blank verse among Howard’s published poetry at the time of this posting. Which is the more remarkable in that it is—by the same standards that T. S. Eliot used in his praise of Christopher Marlowe’s blank verse—both enjambed (making much use of run-on lines rather than end-punctuated, end-stopped, end-paused) and melodious. It demonstrates a fine balance between prose narrative sentence delivery and poetic metered undertones and also displays Howard’s very fine phonic sense, his “ear” for the sounds of—beyond their meanings.

SEL18317018388Likely the best way to establish Howard’s view of himself as a poet as well as a “fictioneer” is to examine his own words in the letters that have been left to us. If one studies the two collections, ably edited by Glenn Lord [Selected Letters: 1923-1930 and 1931-1936, Necronomicon Press] with an eye for REH’s mention of poetry and verse, one will be assured of his developing interest in and continuing study of poetic forms and poetic traditions and his growing sense of urgency not only to become an accomplished poet, but a published poet worthy of note. In his exchange of letters [inclusive of much of his poetic work that survives] he and his friend Tevis Clyde Smith discussed not only poetry and their own work as poets, but, indeed, move toward a planned joint publication (the never-published Images Out of the Sky [although Smith later published his own volume with that title]).

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ruth_lvz4stUiEJ1r47bczo1_500

noun

  1. compassion for the misery of another; remorse or sorrow for one’s own faults

[origin: 13th century; Middle English ruthe, from ruen to rue]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

King Ceawlin marshalled a thousand horse
To bar King Geraint’s battle course.
He put Prince Osric in command,
With five strong chiefs at either hand:
Halfgar, Frisian sea-king he,
A name of fear in the narrow sea;
He knew not mercy, pity or ruth.
The thane Otho of the Black Boar’s Tooth.
Athelred, cousin to the king,
And Rognor of the golden ring.
Oswick who ravaged London town
And slew three kings on The White Horse down.
The giant brothers, berserks they,
Tostig the Ogre and Athelney.
Fearsome were they, and huge and stark,
And unlike their race, most strangely dark.
Oswy the Jut, and the Norseman Rane,
And last and greatest, the viking Swane.
Half Saxon he, half northern Dane.
His torch had lighted a hundred shores,
Rome and Egypt had heard his oars.
Proud Massilia at his thrust
Had crumpled into the bloody dust.
Broad was he, with a cruel face,
Fiercest man of a savage race.

[from “The Ballad of King Geraint”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 73]

This entry filed under Howard's Poetry, Word of the Week.