REH Word of the Week: baobab

baobab Thomas_Baines

(painting: “Baobab Tree, South Africa” by Thomas Baines)


1. a broad-trunked tropical tree (Adansonia digitata) of the silk-cotton family that is native to Africa and has an edible acidic fruit resembling a gourd and bark used in making paper, cloth, and rope; also any of several related trees chiefly of Madagascar and Australia.

[origin: 1640; New Latin bahobab ]


And fire-light gleams as lithe forms prance;
Mafu’s warriors spin in a blood-crazed dance.
The great fire chuckles in crimson blast
As the naked, leaping forms lurch past.
Like shadow-things in the shifting light,
They leap in a ghastly voodoo rite,
And the firelight gleams on white teeth bare
In fierce-eyed faces, amid flying hair.

And the dancers whirl
Through the shadowy swirl,
Mocking the shrieks
Of a captive girl.

Far to the East ’neath a baobab tree,
By a sullen river that runs to the sea,
Smolders a heap of ruins laid
In the midst of a ruined palisade.
Veiled by a grisly, yellow smoke,
No sound is heard save the vulture’s croak
And the jackals’ snarl at the cindered bones—
Unheeding, the sullen river drones.

And the river flows,
And the night wind blows,
Sifting the ashes
Of Mafu’s foes.

[from “Victory”; to read the complete poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p 163; Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 289; and Night Images, p. 55.]

Happy Birthday Robert E. Howard!

REH Serape


January 22nd is Robert E. Howard‘s 109th birthday! It’s the day Howard fans everywhere read a favorite story of his and toast his shade with a favorite libation!

Breaking the mug in the fireplace afterwards is optional.

Happy Birthday, Ol’ Two-Gun!

REH Work of the Week: neophyte



1. a person who has just started learning or doing something; a new convert

[origin: 14th century; Middle English, from Late Latin neophytus, from Greek neophytos, from neophytes newly planted, newly converted, from ne- + phyein to bring forth]


Shatter the shrines and let the idols fall;
The gods are dead; Time totters to His end.
Let the gods die.
Smoke of destruction blots again the stars;
Again the roaring oceans reel and rise.
Men flee with faces hidden from their doom;
Men slaughter men and die and know it not.
The high-priest falls beside his shrine and dies,
The worshipper and sacrifice are one.
The neophyte sinks down amid the flame.
Let the gods die.
Shatter the altars, curse the Fates and die.
The temples sink in dust, the fanes in smoke.
Let the gods die.
The golden idols fall in shattered shards.
Let the gods die.

[from “Let the Gods Die”; this is the complete poem as it appears in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 448]

Howard Days Banner

HDs2015 Banner Small

Many thanks to Jeff Shanks for this outstanding banner artwork for Howard Days!

REH Word of the Week: reinless





1. lacking control or guidance; unchecked; unrestrained

[origin: Old French reine (Fr. rêne) through Late Latin. retina, from retinēre, to hold back]


The day that I die shall the sky be clear
And the east sea-wind blow free,
Sweeping along with its rover’s song
To bear my soul to sea.

They will carry me out of the bamboo hut
To the driftwood piled on the lea,
And ye that name me in after years,
This shall ye say of me:

That I lived to a straight and simple creed
The whole of my worldly span,
And white or black or yellow, I dealt
Foursquare with my fellow man.

That I drained Life’s cup to its blood-red lees
And it thrilled my every vein,
But I did not frown when I laid it down
To lift it never again.

And I breathed my last with a simple tribe,
A people savage and free,
And they gave my body unto the fire
And my soul to the reinless sea.

[from “The Day That I Die”; to read the complete poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 299; Echoes From an Iron Harp, p. 20 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 7]

Mark Schultz is Howard Days Guest of Honor

MCS self-portrait

The Robert E. Howard Foundation is pleased to announce that artist Mark Schultz will be the Guest of Honor at Robert E. Howard Days, June 12-13, 2015.

Sponsored by the REH Foundation, REHupa and Project Pride and held annually at the REH Museum in Cross Plains, Texas, Howard Days is a two-day celebration of the life and works of author Robert E. Howard.

Mark is well-known as the illustrator for the first Wandering Star pure REH text Conan edition, The Coming of Conan. His paintings, full-page drawings, chapter headings and spot illustrations fill this volume with a clean, energetic and stylistic imagery. Other Howard work that Mark has done include the covers to Worms of the Earth (Cross Plains Comics), The Colossal Conan (Dark Horse Comics) and the Adventures in Science Fantasy volume for the REHF Press. One of Mark’s designs is used on the REH Museum t-shirt. And, as it turns out, his very first professional comics work was inking the pencils of Val Semeik’s Kull story in the Savage Sword of Conan #132. Mark will also be doing the artwork for the special souvenir postal cancellation stamp for Howard Days this year.

The annual Robert E. Howard Days celebration will take place at the REH Museum in Cross Plains, Texas, on June 12th & 13th, 2015. Sponsored by Project Pride of Cross Plains and the Robert E. Howard Foundation, the two-day event promises once again to be THE place to be for fans of REH.

All of the activities associated with Howard Days are in place: tours of the REH Museum & Grounds, the Celebration Banquet and Silent Auction, the Bus Tour of Cross Plains, the REHF Awards presentation, panels of REH interest and the many extemporaneous discussions and poetry readings among Howard fans and scholars, the Caddo Ranch Barbeque, the Swap Meet at the Pavilion, the special Postal Cancellation souvenir – all this and more await you at Howard Days. We’re also in discussion about some new events: an organized tour to Howard’s gravesite in Brownwood, a REH trivia contest (with prizes!), plus a more “formal” program booklet to have for another nice souvenir.

For those of you interested in getting on the Howard Days/Project Pride mailing list, please write to Project Pride, POB 534, Cross Plains, TX 76443, e-mail:, or check the internet:, or the Robert E. Howard Days Facebook page for additional information.


REH Word of the Week 2009 Revisited: bill

bill hook2

(the bill weapon in the center, upper row is compared to other bladed weapons)


1. a weapon in use up to the 18th century that consists of a long staff ending in a hook-shaped blade.

[origin: 14th century; Middle English bil, from Old English bill sword; akin to old High German bill pickax


There’s a bell that hangs in a hidden cave
Under the heathered hills
That knew the tramp of the Roman feet
And the clash of the Pictish bills.

It has not rung for a thousand years,
To waken the sleeping trolls,
But God defend the sons of men
When the bell of the Morni tolls.

And it waits the Hand that shall wake its voice,
When the hills shall break with fright,
To call the dead men into the day,
And the living into the Night.

[from “The Bell of Morni”; to read the complete poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 193 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 423]



REH Word of the Week: bawcocks

Sir Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake by Thomas Heath Robinson


1. archaic. a fine fellow

[origin: 1599; French beau coq, from beau fine + coq fellow]


On Devon downs I met the ghost of Drake;
His sigh was a sea-wind that whispered past:
“Dost know barnacles crust the rotting strake,
And salt weed shrines the fallen mizzen-mast?
The sword of glory long has turned to rust. . .
Aye, shattered now the prows that long of yore
Beat up the sunset through the blinding gust
That lashed us off the gold-fat Carib coast.

“The glory and the glamor and the glee,
The raiding and the roving and the rage
Have faded like the spume upon the sea,
And History sands down another page.

“Where are the bawcocks and the bullies bold,
The swaggerers, the rufflers, all of they
Who strutted on the deck and filled the hold
With silk and spice and yellow Spanish gold:
The loot of Ind, of Panama and Cathay?

“Frown hard upon their deeds if so ye will,
And name them crimson-handed, black of heart—
They braved unknown worlds and seas, had their fill
Of death and danger where the sunsets spill
Unreckoned perils, and they took their part
Of cannonade and cutlass, wind and rack.
They paved the way for ye who were to come;
Aye, ye who followed rode a beaten track. . .

[from “Drake Sings of Yesterday”; to read the complete poem see in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 466 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 412]


REH Word of the Week: censer

censer java


1. a container in which incense is burned, typically in a religious ceremony especially a covered vessel swung on chains.

[origin: 13th century; Middle English: from Old French censier, from encensier, from encens]


“Ages ago (said the lost god) was I born from the flaming dew and the deep blue caverns of the sea; and from the shimmering fleece of golden clouds and the drifting dust of the stars. Here in the shrine of the sea came worshipper and neophyte, laden with silver jars of nectar, and purple and scarlet plumes from birds that haunted the jungles of the moon, and veils of star-woven silk, and ambergris.

“To my feet danced ivory-limbed girls, crowned with chaplets of asphodel and myrtle, to bedeck me with heliotrope and rose, orchid and iris and orange blossom. My altar smoked on amaranthine mountains.

“Where now are the lute-voiced neophytes, the wonder cinctured acolytes who sung before me the feast songs and the wine songs, the song of the seasons and the chant of the nuptials? The purple fog and the crimson fog drift before the sea breeze.

And the races of men fade like visions of forgotten glory. All have vanished, worshipper and priest, silver-sceptered emperor and train-bearing slave. Youth with its blaring trumpets, its smoke of incense-billowing censers; the pride and the splendor! Men are fickle and let no god think within his heart, ‘I am forever.’ Gods and women are one with men who forget them.”

[from “The Gods That Men Forget”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 680; The Selected Poems of Robert E. Howard, p. 493.]

REH Word of the Week: avatar



1. the human or animal form of a Hindu god on earth; someone who represents a type of person, an idea or an embodiment (as of a concept or philosophy) often in a person, or a quality; computers: a small picture that represents a computer user.

[origin: 1784; Sanskrit avataraḥ descent, from avatarati he descends, from ava away + tarati he crosses over]


They break from the pack and they seek their own track,
They are swifter than cormorants flying;
They range far and wide, they are fierce in their pride,
And they glory in slaying and dying.

They are beasts hard and lean and their talons are keen
To rage and to rend and devour—
Oh, mocking their mirth, for the best of the earth
Is laid at their feet in their hour.

Oh, they never can win, but the one single sin
That they shun is the sin of the dastard.
And they grin as they die, in their conqueror’s eye,
And he trembles, the small yellow bastard.

For these are the men who know all of sin,
Save the sinnings of fear and forgiving—
Untamed avatars, they have broken the bars—
And gods, how they revel in living!

[from “Untamed Avatar”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 385; The Selected Poems of Robert E. Howard, p. 17; and A Rhyme of Salem Town, p. 6]