Posted by Barbara Barrett on 3rd March 2014
1. margin or edge
[origin: archaic; 1548; Middle French, from Latin margo]
A roar of battle thundered in the hills;
All day our iron blades drank deep in blood;
Till lighted with the flame the sunset spills
We saw against our backs the river’s flood.
Among its rocks the waters screamed and raced;
We had our choice, we wild rebellious slaves,
To die beneath the horrors that we faced
Or die amid the horror of the waves.
Aye, we were men who gathered at the marge,
And spear and insult at our foemen hurled—
They were not men who gathered for the charge,
But demons of a blood-black elder world.
But even risen slaves may have a king—
We had a king like some great iron tower,
And bloody now he faced the closing ring
And leaned on his red sword in that red hour.
When I rose reeling in a field of red,
And searching for our warrior king I came
And found him dead upon a heap of dead.
Demon and man, they silent lay, and still;
With cloven skull, rent heart and torn breast.
And now the moon was rising on the hill,
And now the light was dying in the west.
Aye, I alone of all that mighty horde
Still held my life; into a rough rude ring
I bent with waning strength a broken sword,
A diadem to crown a warrior king.
And on his red brow set the bloody crown,
Then Life gave up the ghost as night came down.
[from “A Crown For a King”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 243; Always Comes Evening, p. 108; and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 481]