Posted by Barbara Barrett on July 28th, 2014
1. a long, wooden stick
[origin: about the 13th century; Middle English, from staves, plural of stafstaff]
Against the east a sombre spire loomed o’er a dusky, brooding wood;
Against the west the sunset’s fire lay like a fading smear of blood.
The stranger pushed through tangled boughs; the forest towered stark and grim,
Fit haunting place for fiends’ carouse, but silent in the dusk and dim.
Anon the stranger paused to hark; no wind among the branches beat
But bats came wheeling in the dark and serpents hissed beneath his feet.
Bleak stars blinked out, of leprous hue; the forest stretched its clutching arms;
A hag-lean moon swam up and threw gnarled shadows into monstrous forms.
He scaled the steep and stood before the donjon. With his steel-tipped stave
He smote the huge, bronze studded door. (And yet his blows no echoes gave.)
The sullen door swung wide apace and framed in unnamed radiance dim
A grisly, horned, inhuman face with yellow eyes gazed out at him.
Then towers and shadows faded out into a world of leaping flame.
Where to and fro and all about dim phantom figures went and came.
Arms tossed above the molten tide, the sparks in crimson shadows fell.
Red mountains smoldered. At his side a vague voice murmured, “This is Hell.”
[from “Destination”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 181; Singers in the Shadows, p. 52 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 302]