REHupa

The Robert E. Howard United Press Association.

Archive for the 'Word of the Week' Category

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]

 

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week 2009 Revisited: kopje

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 6th October 2014

kopje2

kopje’s were favorite resting places for lions

noun

1. koppie (var.); a small usually rocky hill especially on the African veld

[origin: 1848; Afrikaans koppie]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

This is the tale the Kaffirs tell as the tints of twilight melt
And the jackal jeers from the kopje’s stones and the nighttime veils the veldt;
As the cooking fires begin to glow and the lounging braves match tales,
This is the story the ancients tell in far, fire-lighted kraals:

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.

[from “The Zulu Lord”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 265; Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 292 and A Rhyme of Salem Town, p. 138]

 

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REH Word of the Week: haft

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 29th September 2014

Am-ra2

noun

1. the handle of a weapon or tool

[origin: before 12th century; Middle English, from Old English hæft; akin to Old English hebban to lift]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Out of the land of the morning sun,
Am-ra the Ta-an came.
Outlawed by the priests of the Ta-an,
His people spoke not his name.
Am-ra, the mighty hunter,
Am-ra, son of the spear,
Strong and bold as a lion,
Lithe and swift as a deer.
Into the land of the tiger,
Came Am-ra the fearless, alone,
With his bow of pliant lance-wood,
And his spear with the point of stone.

He saw the deer and the bison,
The wild horse and the bear,
The elephant and the mammoth,
To him the land seemed fair.
Face to face met he the tiger,
And gripping his spear’s long haft,
Gazed fearless into the snarling face,
“Good hunting!” cried he, and laughed!
The bison he smote at sunrise,
The deer in the heat of day,
The wild horse fell before him,

[from “Am-ra the Ta-an”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 50; Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 421 and A Rhyme of Salem Town, p. 153]

 

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REH Word of the Week: rime

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 22nd September 2014

Niflheim

Niflheim: Land of Mists (from www.gaiaonline.com)

noun

1. an accumulation of granular ice tufts on the windward sides of exposed objects that is formed from supercooled fog or cloud and built out directly against the wind

[origin: before the 12th century; Middle English rim, from Old English hrim; akin to Old Norse hiīm frost]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

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.

The sky is rimed with frost—the crusted sun
Rocks down the blue, a shield of frozen flame.
Gigantic shadows rise and loom and live
And burst the links that chain them to the past.

They swirl like grey-limbed giants in the night.
They stalk amid the cold and mocking stars.
Ho! Giant brood of shadows! Find in me
A brother and a master and a slave.

[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: 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 |