REHupa

The Robert E. Howard United Press Association.

Archive for the 'Word of the Week' Category

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]

 

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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]

 

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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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REH Word of the Week: fraught

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 9th June 2014

tree2

(image from http://amigosdelminijuego.blogspot.com/)

adjective

1. archaic. laden, well supplied or provided

[origin: ca 1400; Middle English, freight, load, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German vracht, vrecht

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Before the shadows slew the sun the kites were soaring free,
And Kull rode down the forest road, his red sword at his knee;
And winds were whispering round the world: “King Kull rides to the sea.”

The sun died crimson in the sea, the long gray shadows fell;
The moon rose like a silver skull that wrought a demon’s spell,
For in its light great trees stood up like specters out of hell.

In spectral light the trees stood up, inhuman monsters dim;
Kull thought each trunk a living shape, each branch a knotted limb,
And strange unmortal evil eyes flamed horribly at him.

The branches writhed like knotted snakes, they beat against the night,
And one great oak with swayings stiff, horrific in his sight,
Tore up its roots and blocked his way, grim in the ghostly light.

They grappled in the forest way, the king and grisly oak;
Its great limbs bent him in their grip, but never a word was spoke;
And futile in his iron hand, the stabbing dagger broke.

And through the tossing, monstrous trees there sang a dim refrain
Fraught deep with twice a million years of evil, hate and pain:
“We were the lords ere man had come and shall be lords again.”

Kull sensed an empire strange and old that bowed to man’s advance
As kingdoms of the grass-blades bow before the marching ants,
And horror gripped him; in the dawn like someone in a trance

He strove with bloody hands against a still and silent tree;
As from a nightmare dream he woke; a wind blew down the lea
And Kull of high Atlantis rode silent to the sea.

[from “The King and the Oak” ; this is the complete poem as it appears in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 3; Always Comes Evening, p.40 ; Night Images, p. 13; and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 428]

 

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REH Word of the Week: assagai

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 2nd June 2014

Shaka

(Zulu Lord Chaka (Shaka var.) pictured)

noun

1. assegai (var.); a slender hardwood spear or light javelin usually tipped with iron and used in southern Africa

[origin: ca 1600; ultimately from Arabic al-zaghaya the assegai, from al-the + Berber zaghaya spear]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Chaka sat in his throne of state; no girls that dance or sing
Bent supple forms in the palace hut for Chaka the Zulu king.
For Chaka the king was a man of war and his hands with blood were red
And never a girl could thrill his soul as the sight of the spear-rent dead.

But the idle assagais hung in the rack
And idle the warring horde
For the tribes of the veldt-land bent the back
To Chaka, the Zulu lord.

Then he formed his impis rank upon rank and bid them smite and slay;
Three thousand warriors of Zululand fell on that bloody day.
Spear clanged on shield and the squadrons reeled under the hot blue skies;
From his throne of state King Chaka watched with his gleaming, magical eyes.

[from “The Zulu Lord”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 202 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 292]

 

 

 

 

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REH Word of the Week: wont

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 19th May 2014

HPL

adjective

1. likely to do something or having a tendency to do something; accustomed

[origin: before 12th century; Middle English woned, from past participle of wonen to dwell, be used to, from Old English wunian; akin to Old High German wonen to dwell, be used to; Sanskrit vanoti he strives for]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

“Let it rest with the ages’ mysteries,
And but recall the day
I was wont to go where the cannikins clinked,
Not caring who should pay.”

Fingers turn the hidden Keys,
Looting wealth from lair and hold;
Cast what shapes in what dim mold?
Question now the Eternities.
But who is Grandpa Theobold?

[from “Who is Grandpa Theobold”; to read the complete poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 285 and Echoes From an Iron Harp, p. 100]

 

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