REH Word of the Week: sward


1. a portion of ground covered with grass; the grassy surface of land

[origin: ca. 15th century; Middle English, from Old English sweard, swearth skin, rind; akin to Middle High German swart skin, hide]


I saw the grass on the hillside bend
Beneath no mortal shoon;
A demon ran where the sward began
And capered in the moon.

Black as Nubia was his skin,
Naked as night he stood,
And he danced to a hidden violin
Deep in the still black wood.

On the swarded hill he leaped and sprang,
Where the brooding nightwinds pass,
As if he would tread the stars down
And trample them in the grass.

He trod a measure dark and strange,
It was old when Time began,
In darksome glory he stepped the story
That vaunted the fall of Man.

[from “The Dance Macabre”; this complete poem appears in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 203]