REHupa

The Robert E. Howard United Press Association.

Archive for the 'Word of the Week' Category

REH Word of the Week: jade

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 15th September 2014

jade2

noun

1. a color varying from bluish green to a yellowish green; also, a hard, typically green stone used for ornaments and implements and consisting of the minerals jadeite or nephrite.

[origin: ca 14th century; Middle English; also from French le jade (earlier l'ejade), from Spanish piedra de ijada 'stone of the flank' (i.e., stone for colic, which it was believed to cure)]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Atlantis lies in the cold jade sea
Where the sea-ghosts’ swords flame endlessly—
Flame, flame!
And the spectres know
How Zalthas came
With the kite and the crow—
How Zalthas came and the ocean’s flow
Ran coiling red in the long ago.
Green in trough,
White on the crest.
Sea-kings oft
Sank here to rest.
Where the blood-red sun sank dimming,
When the stars in the night were ghostly white,
The snake of the sea came swimming.
Rise through the dusky emerald surge,
Through the glimmering fathoms, strange and deep,
Till the ocean-jade and the sky-jade merge;
There you will find Than-Kul asleep.
Rock, red boat, on the sapphire tide—
Than-Kul has burst the bars.
He found no sea-love until he died,
In the silence of the stars.
Over the deeps come eerily
The whispering breezes of the sea.

[from "The Doom Chant of Than-Kul”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 312]

 

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week 2009 Revisited: foin

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 8th September 2014

foin2

intransitive verb

1. archaic. To thrust with a pointed weapon

[origin: 14th century; Middle English from foin fork for spearing fish; Anglo-French fuin]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Thunder in the black skies beating down the rain,
Thunder in the black cliffs, looming o’er the main,
Thunder on the black sea and thunder in my brain.

God’s on the night wind, Satan’s on his throne
By the red lake lurid and the great grim stone—
Still through the roofs of Hell the brooding thunders drone.

Trident for a rapier, Satan thrusts and foins
Crouching on his throne with his great goat loins –
Souls are his footstools and hearts are his coins.

[from "Red Thunder"; to read the whole poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 176 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, pp. 165-66]

 

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week: lute

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 1st September 2014

lute

noun

1. a plucked stringed instrument with a long neck bearing frets and a rounded body with a flat front that is shaped like a halved egg

[origin: 13th century; Middle English, from Middle French lut, from Old Occitan laut, from Arabic al-ʽud, literally, the wood]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Long golden-yellow banners break the sky,
And silver hoofs chime out a sharp refrain,
A thousand lutes lift up a cadenced strain;
And East, a purple dust-cloud billows high.

From golden window sills the women lean,
With strange exultant hawk-enamored cries;
Their ivory bosoms heave, their star-like eyes
Brood deeply; each begirdled like a queen.

Bab-ilu’s riders sweep across the plain
Returned from conquest and the hills of war;
On kingly foreheads gleams the sky-born star—
They come with captive kings and gold again.

My mallet wearies of the pavements—aye,
It longs to quench its thirst in blood and brain
When rulers die and women scream in vain,
Oh gods of Babel, haste the crimson day.

[from “The King and the Mallet”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 501 and Night Images, p. 60]

 

 

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week: slavering

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 25th August 2014

slavering dead

adjective

1. slobber; drool

[origin: Middle English slaveren, probably from Old Norse slafra]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

I have plumbed the northern ice for a spell like frozen lead;
In lost gray fields of rice, I have learned from Mongol dead.
Where a bleak black mountain stands I have looted grisly caves;
I have digged in the desert sands to plunder terrible graves.

Never the sun goes forth, never the moon glows red,
But out of the south or the north, I come with the slavering dead.
I come with hideous spells, black chants and ghastly tunes;
I have looted the hidden hells and plundered the lost black moons.

There was never a king or priest to cheer me by word or look,
There was never a man or beast in the blood-black ways I took.
There were crimson gulfs unplumbed, there were black wings over a sea;
There were pits where mad things drummed, and foaming blasphemy.

[from “Song of a Mad Minstrel”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 161; Always Comes Evening, p. 20; and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 327]

 

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

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]

 

 

 

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

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]

 

 

 

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

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 |