REHupa

The Robert E. Howard United Press Association.

Archive for the 'Word of the Week' Category

REH Word of the Week: eyes-of-red-ice

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 7th October 2013

red ice

noun

1. “Mice with eyes of red ice” (see poem below) are albinos. The redness is due to the lack of the natural dark pigments of the iris. Instead what is seen is the color from their blood vessels. Referred to as tapetum lucidum, it is a reflecting structure that contains crystals. It is especially developed in many nocturnal animals, rodents, birds and it helps their eyes to catch all the available light. The redness is not in the iris (the outer part that gives eyes their color) but at the back of the eye, behind the retina.

When light shines directly into eyes that have a tapetum lucidum, it produces “eyeshine” (it appears to glow). Many fish have white eyeshine, some mammals have yellow or blue eyeshine, and others such as rodents have red eyeshine. Tapetum lucidum is an adaptation to life in environments with little light.

[origin: tapetum lucidem: Latin for “bright tapestry”]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

A granite wind sighed from the crimson clay desert.
A witch laid her shoon
On the horn of the moon;
The stars in the east
Were the robes of a priest,
And a granite wind roared from the crimson clay desert.

A king on a sapphire hill brooded forever.
A queen glimmered cold
In opal and gold;
Kissing white mice
With eyes of red ice,
And a king on a sapphire hill brooded forever.

[from “A Far Country”; to read the complete poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 281; Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 151; and Shadows of Dreams, p. 73]

 

Posted in REH Poetry, Uncategorized, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week: abeam

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 30th September 2013

 

abeam3

adjective

1. off to the side of a ship or plane especially at a right angle to the middle of the ship or plane’s length

[origin: ca. 1836; nautical, literally on beam]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Dusk on the sea; the fading twilight shifts;
The night wind bears the ocean’s whisper dim—
Wind, on your bosom many a phantom drifts—
A silver star climbs up the blue world rim.
Wind, make the green leaves dance above me here
And idly swing my silken hammock—so;
Now, on that glimmering molten silver mere
Send the long ripples wavering to and fro.
And let your moon-white tresses touch my face
And let me know your slim-armed, cool embrace
While to my dreamy soul you whisper low.

South Seas! I watch when dusky twilight comes
Making vague gods of ancient, sea-set trees.
The world path beckons—loud the mystic drums—
Here at my hand the magic golden keys
That fit the doors of Romance, Wonder, strange
Dim gossamer adventures; seas and stars.
Why, I have roamed the far Moon Mountain range
When sunset minted gold in shimmering bars.
All eager eyed I’ve sailed from ports of Spain
And watched the flashing topaz of the Main
When dawn was flinging witch fire on the spars.
…..
I am content in dreams to roam my fill
The vagrant, drifting sport of wind and tide,
Slave of the greater freedom, venture’s thrill;
Here every magic ship on which I ride.
Gold, green, blue, red, a priceless treasure trove,
More wealth than ever pirate dared to dream.
My hammock swings—about the world I rove.
The sunset’s dusk, the dawning’s glide and gleam,
Moon-dappled leaves are murmuring in the wind
Which whispers tales. Lo, Tyre is just behind,
Through seas of dawn I sail, Romance abeam.

[from “The Adventurer”; to read the complete poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 269 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 112]

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week: neive

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 23rd September 2013

Rane

noun

1. closed or clenched fists

[origin: mid-to late 1700’s; auld warld Scots language from the Robert Burns or Sir Walter Scott era]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Rane o’ the Sword, wha’ men misca’ the fool,
Has turned his galley to the unco’ lands;
Now in the dragon girten prow he stands.
Billows abune the token o’ his rule,
Great fold on fold, the rover’s banner spread.
The hard neives dirl the ash ayint the tide
The war shields klish amain alang the side,
The red moon hammers dune a sea o’ red.

Rane o’ the Sword, nae sairly do we greet
To see your taps’yls scuddin’ dune the west,
Nae muckle love bear we for a’ your breed—
Bluid willna dry like water—yet ’tis meet
We gi’ ye due, that curious unrest
Wha’ gars ye seek the deed beyant the deed.

[from “The Deed Beyond the Deed”; this is the complete poem as it appears in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 10]

[to see a translation of this poem, go to the Conan Forum Poetry and Verse of REH thread: http://www.conan.com/invboard/index.php?showtopic=3484&page=57#entry230979]

 

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week: spume

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 16th September 2013

spume3

noun

1. froth or foam, especially that found on waves

[origin: 14th century; Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin spuma]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Shadows and echoes haunt my dreams with dim and subtle pain,
With the faded fire of a lost desire, like a ghost on a moonlit plain.
In the pallid mist of death-like sleep she comes again to me:
I see the gleam of her golden hair and her eyes like the deep grey sea.
* * * * * * * * * *
We came from the North as the spume is blown when the blue tide billows down;
The kings of the South were overthrown in ruin of camp and town.
Shrine and temple we dashed to dust, and roared in the dead gods’ ears;
We saw the fall of the kings of Gaul, and shattered the Belgae spears.

And South we rolled like a drifting cloud, like a wind that bends the grass,
But we smote in vain on the gates of Spain for our own kin held the Pass.
Then again we turned where the watch-fires burned to mark the lines of Rome,
And fire and tower and standard sank as ships that die in foam.

[from “An Echo From the Iron Harp”; to read the complete poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 7; Night Images, p. 48 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 190]

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week: beeves

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 9th September 2013

beeves2

noun

1. archaic plural of the word beef defined as the flesh of a cow, steer, or bull raised and killed for its meat

[origin: 1250-1300; Middle English from Anglo-French beof, Old French boef from Latin bovern]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Harlots and choir girls,
Deacons and thieves,
All flowing hell-ward
Like a drove of beeves.

Priests and grafters,
Women of shame,
The swine that roots deepest
Shall gain greater fame.

[from “L’Envoi (2. 'harlots and choir girls')"; this is the complete poem as it appears in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 419]

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week: lay

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 2nd September 2013

lay4

noun

1. A narrative poem, such as one sung by medieval minstrels; a ballad, song or tune

[origin: Middle English, from Old French lai ]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

The ancient boast, the ancient song;
The ghostly dream that clings and stays,
A guest unbidden, overlong,
A stranger in unfriendly days.

The yester-ages men know not,
The dust consumes the broken spears—
The spectre of a harp forgot
Comes chanting down the dying years.

Why should I bid a phantom stay?
Retain the out-worn lay and tale?
My day was done with yesterday,
And eons claim the House of Gael.

[from “The House of Gael”; this is the complete poem as it appears in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 449 and A Rhyme of Salem Town, p. 94]

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week: stephane

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 26th August 2013

Hera1

noun

1. a headdress that consists of a metal band widest in the middle over the forehead and growing narrower toward the temples and that is often seen in ancient Greek statues of divinities

[origin: Greek stephane, from stephein to put round one's head]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

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.

I wore little except sandals on my slim white feet, and
a wide sash flung carelessly about my form, and my hair, half
restrained by a cloth of gold stephane, fell in black waves about
my agile shoulders. And I was beautiful.

As in my dreams, all this I know without conscious
thought; I see without detaching my ego from that other dreamself—
I am a double entity, an absolute unity, without reason
or logic as men know them, but possessed of the knowledge of
those other lives.

[from “Skulls and Orchids”; to read the complete proem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 675 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 487]

 

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week: iron-harp

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 19th August 2013

iron harp2

noun

1. The cast-iron frame, also called the plate or harp, is the support for and is responsible for sustaining the massive tension of the strings. Before advances in metallurgy, the frame was made of wood, which would bend and warp under high string tension. In order to prevent this warping, the strings had to be kept at a lower tension, resulting in a softer sound. The development of the cast-iron frame in the mid 1800′s allowed the strings to be held at a much higher tension, resulting in the big sound of the modern grand piano Today’s frame is capable of withstanding string tensions of up to 70,000 pounds! It also allows for use of thicker, tenser and more numerous strings; the primary bulwark against the force of string tension.

[origin: name derives probably from its harp-like shape that lies flat on the piano's soundboard.]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

The iron harp that Adam christened Life
Drips haunting tones into the brazen bowl
That Satan’s wife
Grips close between her heavy naked thighs.
(Her burning eyes
Tell of each god to whom she paid hard toll.)
An endless monotone of single notes
That n’er began and nevermore shall end
Across the seas in dim metallics floats
The years to blend.
And they that bear the harp revere their lords,
The blind uncertain gods that smite the chords.
Like some Manchurian gong of keenest jade
Into the brazen bowl the brazen tones
Drum out a hard scintillant cannonade
As in a skull were shaken precious stones.
And she who holds the bowl still knows the spur
Of they who smite the harp and ravish her.

[from the Untitled poem (“The iron harp that Adam christened Life”); this is the complete poem as it appears in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 162]

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week: wrack

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 12th August 2013

sword4

Battle of Clontarf, painting by Hugh Frazer, 1826

noun

1. dialect. the violent destruction of a structure, machine, or vehicle

[origin: 14th century; Middle English wrak, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German; akin to Old English wræc something driven by the sea]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Lean on your sword, red-bearded lord, and watch your victims crawl;
Under your feet they weakly beat the dust with their dying hands.
The red smokes roll from the serf’s roof-pole and the chieftain’s shattered hall—
But there are fires in the heather and a whetting of hungry brands.

The peaked prows loom like clouds of doom along each broken port;
The monks lie still on the heathered hill among the fallen stones.
Over the land like a god you stand, our maidens howl for your sport—
But kites await in the heather to tear the flesh from your bones.

Clouds and smoke for a broken folk, a lash for the bended back—
Thus you roared when your crimson sword blotted the moon on high,
But sea breaks and the world shakes to the battle’s flying wrack,
And Death booms out of the heather to nail you in the sky.

[from “Song Before Clontarf”; this is the complete poem as it appears in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 71; Night Images, p. 62; Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 31]

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |

REH Word of the Week: glaive

Posted by Barbara Barrett on 5th August 2013

glaive

noun

1. a medieval polearm weapon, i.e., a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is placed on the end of a long shaft whose edge was on the outside curve; also, a light lance with a long sharp-pointed head; 2. archaic. sword, especially a broadsword;

[origin: ca. 1250; Middle English from Old French glaive, gla, from Latin gladius]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Long glaives of frozen light crawled up and down
Along the towers of the outer wall
And as I passed into the darkened town
I felt the Silence lay his hand on all.

“Man may not stand that which man may but flee!
Man’s soul and works may be by fiends defamed,
Yet the cathedral doors stand wide for me.”
Though even as I spoke I was aware
That some vast Thing drew in a sucking breath,
And as I treasure life I knew and swear
That Something wet its lips and mewed like death.
My foot was on the threshold, then I screamed.
I fled. Brute life, heavy-thorned is your crown.
Once I loved life to live, before I dreamed
Of a Hell-seized fane in a silent town.

[from “A Vision”; to read the complete poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 198 and Echoes From an Iron Harp, p. 95]

Posted in REH Poetry, Word of the Week |