REHupa

The Robert E. Howard United Press Association.

Archive for the 'Word of the Week' Category

REH Word of the Week: avatar

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 15th December 2014

avatar2

noun

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]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

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]

 

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REH Word of the Week: veldt

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 8th December 2014

veldt2

(Boers trekking through South African veldt) original painting by James McConnell)

noun

1. an area of grassy land with few trees or shrubs especially in southern Africa

[origin: ca 1855; Afrikaans veld, from Dutch, field; akin to Old English field]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Along the road to Babel
When dawn was in the sky
I met you, girl of magic,
A morn of sorcery.

The hawk-winged Khitan horsemen
That haunt the red-veined cliffs,
The riders of Carchemish,
Could tender no such gifts.

Nor even he could offer,
Whose mandate reared the Sphinx
Though to the Nubian veldtlands
The sea his kingdom links.

His horses flail the grass lands
Beneath the Shushan moon;
His soldiers hale nude captives
To trek and barracoon.

The Hyksos ghost has faded
Unstemmed his chariots roar
From hinterlands of Nilus
Unto the mid-sea shore.

Ah, Lilith, Phryne, Thais,
I hail you in my rime;
Woman of all world’s women,
The woman of all Time.

[from “The Road to Babel”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 305 and Shadows of Dreams, p. 67]

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REH Word of the Week 2010 Revisited: dree

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 1st December 2014

Blue Halls2

(The wreck of the SS American Star beneath the ocean)

verb

1. endure or suffer (something burdensome or painful)

[origin: before 12th century; Middle English from Old English; chiefly Scottish ]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

There’s a kingdom far from the sun and star
With never a wind to dree;
Where the golden balls of the silence falls
In the high blue halls of the sea.

There’s death to change in that kingdom strange,
For its days are all the same;
Its blue floors blaze in a golden maze
Through a purple haze of flame.

There’s a kingdom dim ’neath a ghost tree’s limb,
That throbs eternally,
Life’s furtherest halls where magic calls
In the high blue halls of the sea.

[from “High Blue Halls”; to read the complete poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 274]

 

 

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REH Word of the Week: bloodstone

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 24th November 2014

bloodstone3

noun

1. a green chalcedony sprinkled with red spots resembling blood; used as a gemstone

[origin: 1551; no etymology for bloodstone but often referred to as heliotrope which is Greek for sun turning.)

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Through the scented gloom of the great cavern the voice sank to a lulling refrain, and the silken and velvet hangings rustled in its harmony. There whispered in its golden chords, hints of untold mysteries and eon-haunting magic. The altar glowed darkly like a living ruby, and I heard the sweep of mighty bat-like wings. I felt the presence of ancient demons whose bodies were of burning jet and whose eyes were as caverns of red flame in the night. Eery footfalls whispered across the heavy air, and I sank down, spreading my limbs in pleasurable abandon.

The scent of the incense smoke filled my nostrils, and the golden chant wove for me a patterned weave of bloodstone and ebony, growing fainter and farther away as I sank in an overpowering fragrant sea of misty purple and scarlet waves which drowned my senses in the rich, warm luxury of its perfumed tide.

[from “Bloodstones and Ebony”; to read the complete prose poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 682; Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 296 and Etchings in Ivory ]

 

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REH Word of the Week 2010 Revisited: gynaeconitis

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 17th November 2014

Greek women's quarters

(painting by John Frederick Lewis)

noun

1. That portion of a house reserved for women, generally the innermost apartment; women’s quarters. The women’s quarters of the home were called gynaikeions. Here, the married woman of the household would often join the unmarried women and the female slaves at night when she did not join her husband. The women spent most of their days in this area of the house. These rooms were more remote from those reserved for the men by placing them away from the streets and public areas of the house. When visitors were entertained the women were not present, but remained in this secluded portion of the house.

[origin: ancient Greek]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

I stood in a chamber which must have corresponded to the usual gyntaeconitis, [gynaeconitis] save that I saw no spindle nor any implement of female household employment. The hangings and couches were of the finest make and fabric, and the rugs on the marble floor were ankle deep. And hereby was a strangeness, for the columns and the ceilings were symbolic of another, younger and simpler age, and were of Spartan comeliness.
…..
I stood and held out my hands to a tall, handsome young man who stood before me, clad in the skirt and mantle of the Athenian citizen. His was the true patrician face, and his black hair was bound by a fillet of gold. His gold-banded arms were heavy and smoothly muscled. And I loved this man, for I was a woman, slim and lethal and passionate.

[from “Skulls and Orchids”; to read the complete prose poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 674; The Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 487 and Etchings in Ivory.]

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REH Word of the Week: tourmaline

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 10th November 2014

tourmaline2

noun

1. Three types of tourmaline, distinguished by the presence of certain elements, are usually recognized: iron tourmaline (schorl) is black, magnesium tourmaline (dravite) is brown, and alkali tourmalines may be pink, green, blue, or colourless. Tourmaline is most common in granite. Gem-quality stones are found especially in the U.S., Brazil, Russia, and Madagascar.

[origin: 1759; Sinhalese toramalli carnelian]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

We were very old people on the island, old as races are measured but men had come before us. One day I climbed the leafy green fastness of the dreaming and mysterious hills where no man ever went. Higher and higher I climbed where the silence brooded like a sleeping god and I went on wary toes lest I should wake the drowsing leaves which carved out the tourmaline shadows. And at last I stood against the topaz sky and saw the coiling green serpent that men call the sea spread beneath me from horizon to horizon, and the distant white sails that hung against the skyline like a splash of white flame on a turquoise girdle. And the dusky jadegowned slopes stretched beneath my feet far down to the beaches where the distance carved the bays and inlets into little clear-cut stencils that winked like sapphires set in a green mitre.
And there I came upon a shrine of sard and calcite and an old forgotten god. Sunk and lost in the white-faced flowers and the lush grass were the marble paves which once girded his fane. Vines crawled like shimmering green serpents across his pedestal of red-veined onyx, and orchids flung about him their fragrance like an invisible white mist.
From great, strange magic eyes of carven rubies he looked at me and the jade and amber of his face glimmered ghostily in the purple shadows of the leaves. Not by word nor by sign did he speak to me, but the brooding invocation of the silence spoke to me. “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.

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

 

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REH Word of the Week: proem

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 3rd November 2014

proem4

(The Contemplative Man by Blonde Boy 100886)

noun

1. a preface or a preamble to a book or speech; preliminary comment or prelude

[origin: 14th century; Middle English proheme, from Anglo-French proeme, from Latin prooemium, from Greek prooimion, from pro-+ oimesong; probably akin to Hittite isamai- song, Sanskrit syati he binds]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Let no man read here who lives only in the world about him. To these leaves, let no man stoop to whom Yesterday is as a closed book with iron hasps, to whom Tomorrow is the unborn twin of Today. Here let no man seek the trend of reality, nor any plan or plot running like a silver cord through the fire-limned portraits here envisioned.

But I have dreamed as men have dreamed and as my dreams have leaped into my brain full-grown, without beginning and without end, so have I, with gold and sapphire tools, etched them in topaz and opal against a curtain of ivory. Like medallions of jade and fire upon a topaz girdle they glitter, and as such I offer them, without beginning and without end, even as scenes carved upon a marble frieze. Scan them here, men of strange eyes and strange souls.

[from “Proem”; this is the complete prose poem as it appears in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 691; Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 1; and Etchings in Ivory.]

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REH Word of the Week: gibbering

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 27th October 2014

Halloween

(Dark Forest with Dragon by Silencesym)

adjective

1. to speak rapidly and unintelligibly, typically through fear or shock.

2. 1595-1604; origin uncertain; perhaps frequentative of gib (obsolete) to caterwaul; sense and pronunciation influenced by association with jabber

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Now anthropoid and leprous shadows lope
Down black colossal corridors of Night
And through the cypress roots blind fingers grope
In stagnant pools where burns a witches’ light.

Gaunt, scaly horrors of an Elder World
Squat on a lone bare hill in grisly ring,
Howling blasphemies to a red hag-moon;
And where a serpent round an oak has curled,
And midnight shudders to a hell-born tune,
A nameless, godless shape sits slavering.

Gibbering madness slinks among the trees;
Deep in black woods a monstrous idol nods,
And rising from the nameless Outer Seas
Come spectres of the age-forgotten gods,

Who in the blind, black infancy of earth
Gripped howling men in their misshapen paws,
And ground, with ghastly glee and obscene mirth,
Nude, writhing shapes between their brutish jaws.

[from “All Hallows Eve”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 197 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 297]

 

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REH Word of the Week: hod

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 20th October 2014

 

hod3

(“The Hod Carrier” from The Working Girl Series c. 1930 via Maudelynn)

noun

1. a tray or trough that has a pole handle and that is borne on the shoulder for carrying loads (as of mortar or brick)

[origin: 1573; probably from Middle Dutch hodde; akin to Middle High German hotte cradle]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Let others croon of lover’s moon,
Of roses, birds on wing,
Maidens, the waltz’s dreamy tune—
Of strong thewed deeds I sing.

Of drear swamp brakes, of storm whipped lakes,
Dank jungle, reedy fen,
Of seas that pound the plunging strakes,
Of men and deeds of men.

Prospector; king of battling ring;
Tarred slave of tide’s behests,
Monarchs of muscle shall I sing,
Lords of the hairy chests.

Though some may stay ’neath cities away,
To toil with maul and hod,
To outer trails most take their way,
To lands yet scarcely trod.

The torrent’s might, the dizzy height,
Shall never bate their breath,
With desert’s toils they match their might,
And hurl their mocks at Death.

The tropic creek, the jungle reek
That steams through sullen trees,
The boding wild where leopards shriek
Holds never fear for these.

[from “Roundelay of the Roughneck”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 31 and Echoes From an Iron Harp, p. 62]

 

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REH Word of the Week: mizzen

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 13th October 2014

mizzen

noun

1. A mast is a tall upright post, spar, or other structure on a ship or boat, in sailing vessels generally carrying a sail or sails. Starting at the bow in a two-masted vessel, the masts are termed the foremast and the mainmast; when the aftermast is considerably smaller they are named the mainmast and the mizzenmast. In all three-masted vessels the names of the masts are foremast, mainmast and mizzenmast.

[origin: 15th century; Middle English mesan, probably from Old Spanish mesana sail set amidships, from Catalan mitjana, from feminine of mitjan of the middle, from Latin medianus]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

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.

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]

 

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