REHupa

The Robert E. Howard United Press Association.

Archive for the 'Word of the Week' Category

REH Word(s) of the Week: Damascus steel

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 18th August 2014

damascus steel

noun

1. Damascus steel was made from wootz steel, a steel developed in India around 300 BC. These swords are characterized by distinctive patterns of banding and mottling reminiscent of flowing water. Such blades were reputed to be tough, resistant to shattering and capable of being honed to a sharp, resilient edge. The original method of producing Damascus steel is not known. Because of differences in raw materials and manufacturing techniques, modern attempts to duplicate the metal have not been entirely successful. Despite this, several individuals in modern times have claimed that they have rediscovered the methods in which the original Damascus steel was produced.

[origin: was a term used by several Western cultures from the Medieval period onward to describe a type of steel used in Middle Eastern swordmaking from about 1100 to 1700 AD.]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

“Boots of Cordovan leather, chests of ash,
Damascus steel, rare silks and silver plate;
Rough-carven gems to match the starlight’s flash,
And gold moidores cresting a piece-of-eight!
Tuns of brown ale and barrels of black rum,
And many a pipe of sharp Canary wine;
Toledo blades that shimmer, gleam and hum,
And bales of spice and idols of odd design!

“Ah, such dreams grip and cut me like a knife!
Let others rest in sweet slumbering death—
I cannot sleep; I need the sting of life,
The pounding of my veins, the fire, the strife,
The slashing spray, the sea-wind’s blasting breath;
The joy, the pain, the peril, sun and snow,
The tavern, and the ale at Plymouth Hoe!

“I cannot rest in Nombre Dios Bay.
Up through the seething fathoms I arise.
When night reefs sails to drink the dying day
And stars are longboat lanterns in the skies,
Then sea to sea I live it all again—
My youth and manhood. . . Devon and the Main!”

I met the ghost of Drake one Devon night;
He sang of sail and sword and reaving stench—
And in his eyes there burned the sea-thrown light
Of life-loving life not even Death can quench.

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

 

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week: eventide

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 11th August 2014

eventide
noun

1. archaic, poetic. the end of the day; evening

[origin: before 1250; Middle English from Old English æfintid; æfin (evening) tid (time)]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

I think when I am old a furtive shape
Will sit beside me at my fireless hearth,
Dabbled with blood from stumps of severed wrists,
And flecked with blackened bits of mouldy earth.

My blood ran fire when the deed was done;
Now it runs colder than the moon that shone
On ravished fields where dead men lay in heaps
Who could not hear a daughter’s piteous moan.

(Dim through the bloody dawn a shuddering wind
The throbbing of the distant cannon brought;
When I reeled like a drunkard from the hut
That hid the horror my red hands had wrought.)

[from “One Who Comes at Eventide”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 220; Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 316 and Always Comes Evening, p. 87.]

 

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week: sere

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 4th August 2014

August 3 is my five year anniversary for doing Word of the Week. It began with the word “leal” on August 3, 2009. (http://leogrin.com/CimmerianBlog/category/robert-e-howard/word-of-the-week/page/5/ about half way down the page.)

Going into its sixth year, the current Word of the Week is “sere.” Some of the words that have been featured were used by REH in more than one poem. I plan to focus a second time of some of those words and see how REH used them in a different poem. Additionally, for the first several years there was no forum for adding any more information or comments about any of the verses so that information will be new also.

Autumn

adjective

1. dried or withered

[origin: before 12th century; Middle English, from Old English sear dry; akin to Old High German soren to wither, Greek hauos dry, Lithuanian sausas]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Now is the lyre of Homer flecked with rust,
And yellow leaves are blown across the world,
And naked trees that shake at every gust
Stand gaunt against the clouds autumnal-curled.

Now from the hollow moaning of the sea
The dreary birds against the sunset fly,
And drifting down the sad wind’s ghostly dree
A breath of music echoes with a sigh.

The barren branch shakes down the withered fruit,
The seas faint footprints on the strand erase;
The sere leaves fall on a forgotten lute,
And autumn’s arms enfold a dying race.

[from “Autumn”; to read the complete poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 315; Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 115 and Always Comes Evening, p. 43]

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week: stave

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 28th July 2014

haunted castle

noun

1. a long, wooden stick

[origin: about the 13th century; Middle English, from staves, plural of stafstaff]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

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]

 

 

 

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REH Word of the Week: swart

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 21st July 2014

rebel

adjective

1. archaic: producing a swarthy or dark colored complexion; baneful; malignant

[origin: before
12th century; Middle English, from Old English sweart; akin to Old High German swarz black, Latin sordes dirt

HOWARD’S USAGE:

I lived upon the earth of yore,
An outlaw swart and fell,
And ankle-deep, at last, in gore
I waded into Hell.

And where the gleaming charcoal sheened
I dared the Devil’s ire,
For man is stronger than the fiend
And fiercer than the fire.

I swaggered through the Flaming Land
’Mid shadows red and black
And gripped him by his taloned hand
And smote him on the back.

“Damnation’s fire!” I roared, “I trow
“I heard the goblets clink!
“Have ye not courtesy enow
“To bid an old friend drink?

[from “Rebel”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 149; Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 252 and Singers in the Shadows, p. 24]

 

 

 

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REH Word of the Week: Buri

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 14th July 2014

Buri

(Buri is licked out of a salty ice-block by the cow Audumbla in this illustration from an 18th-century Icelandic manuscript)

noun

1. Scandinavian mythology: the first of the gods, revealed when the cow Auduml licked away the salty ice that covered him.

[origin: Old Norse, probably derivative of bera to bear]

HOWARD’S USAGE

Grim land of death, what monstrous visions lurk
Amid the icy fastness of your hills?
Your crags are hoary and they never melt;
Their blades of ice are deep in Midgard’s heart.

They know uncanny dawns before that time
When in the greyness of a sunless void,
Audhumla burst the sullen frost and saw
The strange-eyed Buri looming into life.

Oh, sombre land that I know ye are!
The seat of Midgard’s mysteries are you,
For you are Ymir’s cold, inhuman heart
Which feeds all oceans with his sluggish blood.

[from “Niflheim”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 66 and Always Comes Evening, p. 96]

 

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week: a-tune

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 7th July 2014

shattered shards

Intransitive verb

1. (var. attune); to make aware of or responsive to

[origin: 1596; L. ad, to, and Tune]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

The crystal gong of the silence
Shivers in shattered shards;
And the marble hall re-echoes
To the tread of the crested guards.

Fingers pluck at the hangings,
White in the purple gloam;
Midnight lies with the sleepers
In the pulsing heart of Rome.

Rosy lips smile in slumber
Arms nestle bodies white—
Rome in her silks and marbles
Sleeps through the soft-lipped night.

Beacons burn in the towers,
Eyes straining hard beside,
Ears a-tune to the murmur,
The sigh of each changing tide.

Was that the shrill of a night bird
Where the waves are grey as steel,
Or the grind of a muffled oar-lock,
The wash of a prowling keel?

Driftwood or sword-fanged sea-wolves,
Not yours is rest or ease;
Stand to your watches, legion,
That Rome may sleep in peace.

[from “A Song of the Legions”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 61; Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 207; and Echoes of an Iron Harp, p. 78]

 

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week: soul-chord

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 30th June 2014

portara3

(Portara–Apollo’s Temple–Naxos, Greece)

noun

1.a combination of two words—soul: a strong positive feeling (as of intense sensitivity and emotional fervor) and chord: three or more musical tones sounded simultaneously

[origin: 1608; alteration of Middle English cord, short for accord]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Fling wide the portals, rose-lipped dawn has come
To kiss our drowsy visions into life;
Let me arise, a-lust for love and strife
To follow far some distant, pulsing drum.
Upon my vibrant soul-chords passions strum;
With hot, red, leaping blood my veins are rife.
Gods, let me take the universe to wife!
Ere Death, the cold accountant, close my sum.

Then as I spake, methought fierce laughter came
Across the dying hills where sunrise shot;
“Fool, fool, you came unbidden to this game,
“And Death that takes you hence shall ask you not.
“From life, this and only this, may you claim;
“Living, to die, and dying, be forgot.”

from “A Sonnet of Good Cheer”; this is the complete poem as it appears in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 418; Echoes From an Iron Harp, p.83 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 128.

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week: forsooth

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 23rd June 2014

Billy the Kid

adverb

1. archaic; in truth; an archaic word originally meaning `in truth’ but now usually used to express disbelief

[origin: before 12th century; Middle English for soth, from Old English forsoth, from for+soth sooth]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

When I was a youth a deep craving for truth
Was the least of my juvenile failings;
“Student’s Reading Control” failed to touch my young soul,
I, myself, chose the seas of my sailings.
With crook and with sleuth, I reveled forsooth
And I read Tom Swift over and over,
Read Billy the Kid till I wore out the lid
And scanned the bold heroes of Rover.

And now I am wise with no over-strong eyes
And I smirk to society’s diction,
But I fling a sly eye to moments gone by
When I reveled in red-blooded fiction.

[from “When I Was a Youth”; this is the complete poem as it appears in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 372 and A Rhyme of Salem Town, p. 15]

 

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REH Word of the Week inkosi

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 16th June 2014

Shaka

(Shaka Zulu)

inkosi

noun

1. (var. inkosa and nkosi) (chief, leader, king)

[origin: South African]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

“Then the young chief, Um Silikaz, arose in power,
A chief of my own tribe, Mosilikatze.
A mighty chieftain of the Matabele.
He was a Matabele and so am I. Should I, Umengan, serve a Zulu king?
Yet I think that the young chief, Mosilikatze,
Had never risen to power, had it not been for his aquira, Umlimo.
Many and mighty are the Kaffir tribes,
And Matabele and Zulu are akin. So with shrewd eye to coming power,
Umlimo, aquira of the Zulus came to the induna of the Matabele,
Mosilikatze. ’Twas he who counseled the young chief, Mosilikatze,
To raid the tribes of far Mashonaland.
Whereby the impi of Mosilikatze gained fame and power, women, cattle, loot.
’Twas he bade Mosilikatze withhold the cattle that were the Inkosa’s due,
Whereat Chaka, the king was full of wrath
And ordered forth an impi to bring captive, Mosilikatze, chief of the Matabeles.

[from “The Chief of the Matabeles”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 25 and A Rhyme of Salem Town, p. 141]

 

 

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