1. a dark gray to black dense to fine-grained igneous rock that consists of basic plagioclase, augite, and usually magnetite
[origin: ca. 1601; Latin basaltes, manuscript variant of basanites touchstone, from Greek basanitēs (lithos), from basanos touchstone, from Egyptian bḫnw]
“Our prows have plowed the Baltic and passed those rocks basaltic
Which curve to form the narrow gates that lock the Middle Sea;
We plumbed that dark Afric river that feeds it forever,
And saw the Nilic waters wash the sands in the cat-god’s lea.
“But there are seas unparted, and there are coasts uncharted,
And o’er the waves a whisper shafts that we were wise to go,
For—a gloaming is striking the shrouds of we Vikings!
Scorn the loot! To ship! We seek our Fate in the sunset’s glow.”
[from “Viking’s Vision”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 55 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 465]