Archive for the 'Word of the Week' Category

frond_medium

noun

  1. a large leaf (especially of a palm or fern) usually with many divisions

[origin: 1785; Latin frond-, frons foliage]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Stay not from me, that veil of dreams that gives
Strange seas and skies and lands and curious fire,
Dragons and crimson moons and white desire,
That through the silvery fabric sifts and sieves
Shadows and shades and all unmeasured things,
And in the sifting lends them shapes and wings
And makes them known in ways past common knowing—
Red lands, black seas, and ivory rivers flowing.
How of the gold we gather in our hands?
It cheers but shall escape us at the last,
And shall mean less, when the brief day is past,
Than that we gathered on the yellow sand—
The phantom gold we found in wizard-land.
Keep not from me, my veil of curious dreams,
Through which I see the giant things which drink
From sensuous castled rivers—on the brink
Black elephants that woo the fronded streams.

[from “Shadow of Dreams”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 338 and Shadows of Dreams, p. 46]

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

umber

noun

1. a brown earth that is darker in color than ocher and sienna because of its content of manganese and iron oxides and is highly valued as a permanent pigment either in the raw or burnt state

[origin: ca. 1568; probably from obsolete English, shade, color, from Middle English ombre, umbre shade, shadow, from Anglo-French, from Latin umbra]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Red swirls the dust
O’er the Plains of Gilban,
Stirred by the breezes that eddy the air.
Carpeted, mingled, crimsoned with sword rust;
Ages’ old relics of fierce battles there.
West turns to umber,
Ghastly the white east;
O’er the red desert sands
Sinks the sun dim.
Like an old high priest
Over the vague lands,
Whisper the winds from the horizon’s rim.

[from “The Plains of Gilban”; this is the complete poem as it appears in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 280 and A Rhyme of Salem Town, p. 140]

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

stolol299414

noun

1. any of several plants (genus Dasylirion) of the agave family of the southwestern United States and Mexico that resemble a yucca; an alcoholic beverage made from this plant. It grows in northern Mexico, New Mexico, west Texas and the Texas Hill Country.

Commonly known as Desert Spoon, sotol, which grows in northern Mexico, New Mexico, west Texas and the Texas Hill Country, produces a distilled spirit similar to the mescals of central Mexico. The Chihuahua Indians fermented sotol juice into a beer-like alcoholic beverage as early as 800 years ago. Spanish colonists introduced European distillation techniques in the 16th century.

The Desert Spoon takes approximately 15 years to mature and yields only one bottle of sotol per plant. It typically grows on rocky slopes in the Chihuahuan desert grassland between 3,000 and 6,500 feet above sea level. Sotols produce a flower stalk every few years. The outer leaves are removed to reveal the center core, which is taken back to the distillery. The core can then be cooked and/or steamed, shredded, fermented, and distilled.

While distilled sotol is attaining international recognition, at the Fate Bell Shelter, which is on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande, sotol is depicted in paintings on the rock walls. Sandals, baskets, ropes, mats, and many other items of sotol fiber show that it was a highly important resource to ancient Pueblo people. These artifacts date to around 7000 BCE.

[origin: 1881; American Spanish, from Nahuatl zotolin palm tree]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

From Sonora to Del Rio is a hundred barren miles
Where the sotol weave and shimmer in the sun—
Like a horde of rearing serpents swaying down the bare defiles
When the scarlet, silver webs of dawn are spun.

There are little ’dobe ranchos brooding far along the sky,
On the sullen dreary bosoms of the hills;
Not a wolf to break the quiet, not a desert bird to fly
Where the silence is so utter that it thrills.

[from “The Grim Land”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 302 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 342]

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

Latin_Poet_Ovid

noun

1. a wreath to be worn on the head

[origin: 14th century; Middle English chapelet, from Anglo-French, diminutive of chapel hat, garland, from Medieval Latin cappellus head covering, from Late Latin cappa]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Nial of Ulster, welcome home!
What saw you on the road to Rome?—
Legions thronging the fertile plains?
Shouting hordes of the country folk
With the harvest heaped in their groaning wains?
Shepherds piping under the oak?
Laurel chaplet and purple cloak?
Smokes of the feasting coiled on high?
Meadows and fields of the rich, ripe green
Lazing under a cobalt sky?
Brown little villages sleeping between?
What saw you on the road to Rome?
“Crimson tracks in the blackened loam,
“Skeleton trees and a blasted plain,
“A heap of skulls and a child insane,
“Ruin and wreck and the reek of pain
“On the wrack of the road to Rome.”

[from “Shadows on the Road”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 520; Always Comes Evening, p. 30; Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 204]

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

hautboy%202

noun

  1. oboe: a double-reed woodwind instrument having a conical tube, a brilliant penetrating tone

[origin: ca. 1575; Middle French hautbois, from haut high + bois wood]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Grim, grim, grim the elephants were chanting,
Chanting in the jungle in the dim, dark dawn;
Through the waving branches were the late stars slanting,
Beating up the morning ere the night was gone.

Lion in the morning, crouching by the river.
Red birds flitting with a sing-song shrill.
Morning like a topaz, the green fronds a-quiver.
Scent of lush a-wafting in the dawn air still.

Moses was our leader when we came up out of Egypt—
Came up out of Egypt so many years ago—
When I think of magic, I always think of Moses,
Riding down to glory while the hautboys blow.

[from “The Dust Dance (1)”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 133; Echoes From an Iron Harp, p. 25; and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 13 (version 2)]

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

hellresdefault

noun

  1. An extremely unpleasant or painful condition or place; Hell.

[origin: Middle English; from Late Latin Topheth, from Hebrew tōpheth]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

God is God and Mahommed his prophet;
Idols stared with their carven eyes
As I went down to a marble Tophet
Where misers glow and the worm never dies.

The first of the stairs were frozen marble,
The second, silver, brittle and white;
And I heard a dark bird drearily warble:
“Nero’s night is another night.”

[from “Altars and Jesters”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 140 and Night Images, p. 28]

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

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.

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.

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.

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.