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BarB

Member Since 31 Dec 2008
Offline Last Active Jul 21 2014 07:18 AM

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In Topic: REH Word Of The Week

21 July 2014 - 07:19 AM

The Word of the Week for July 14, 2014 is Buri

 

http://www.rehupa.com/

 

The poem of the week “Niflheim” was not published during REH’s lifetime. It’s another of his image driven poems that is filled with references to Norse gods and myths:

 

Niflheim: The cold, dark, misty world of the dead, ruled by the goddess Hel. In some accounts it was the last of nine worlds, a place into which evil men passed after reaching the region of death (Hel). Situated below one of the roots of the world tree, Yggdrasil, Niflheim contained a well, from which many rivers flowed. In the Norse creation story. Another version says it is the misty region north of the void in which the world was created--an underworld of eternal cold, darkness, and mist with nine frozen rivers. It is inhabited by those who died of old age or illness and is ruled over by Hel, a daughter of Loki and Angerboda.

 

Midgard: the abode of human beings in Norse mythology, specifically one of the Nine Worlds in Norse mythology.

 

Audhumla: The primeval cow on whose milk the Giant Ymir fed. She was created from the melting ice at the beginning of time. She sustained herself by licking the salt and hoar frost from the ice of Niflheim eventually revealing the god Buri.

 

Ymir: The primordial giant and the progenitor of the race of frost giants. He was created from the melting ice of Niflheim, when it came in contact with the hot air from Muspell (Muspellheim). From Ymir's sleeping body the first giants sprang forth: one of his legs fathered a son on his other leg while from under his armpit a man and women grew out.

The frost kept melting and from the drops the divine cow Audumla was created. From her udder flowed four rivers of milk, on which Ymir fed. The cow itself got nourishment by licking hoar frost and salt from the ice. On the evening on the first day the hair of a man appeared, on the second day the whole head and on the third day it became a man, Buri, the first god. His grandchildren are Odin, Ve and Vili.

 

Two other verses of “Niflheim” give us more references:

 

Sound out the war-horn’s doom for Ragnarok!

Let man’s destroyers roar from Jotunnheimr

To rend the world and hurl the oceans down

Till in high Asgard wake the sleeping gods.

 

Then in the crashing combat of that day,

Let Midgard rise and roar and Ymir wake,

Till bergs of ice roar down to Muspellheim

And all becomes as thou art, Niflheim.

 

Ragnarok: The final destiny of the gods. The Vikings believed that the world one day would end as we know it, they called this day for Ragnarok, also spelled Ragnarök in old Norse. Ragnarok is the doom of the gods and the humans. It will be the final battle between the Aesir and Jotuns. The battle will take place on the plains called Vigrid.

 

Jotunnheimr: one of the Nine Worlds and the homeland of the Giants of Norse Mythology--the Rock Giants and Frost Giants. 

 

Asgard: In Norse religion, it is one of the Nine Worlds and home to the Æsir tribe of gods. One of Asgard's well known locations is Valhalla, in which Odin rules. [NOTE: Asgard was Word of the Week on January 21 2013 http://www.rehupa.com/?cat=13&paged=8]

 

Muspellheim: in Norse mythology, a hot, bright, glowing land in the south, guarded by Surt, the fire giant. In the beginning, according to one tradition, the warm air from this region melted the ice of the opposite region, Niflheim, thus giving form to Ymir, the father of the evil giants. Sparks from Muspelheim became the Sun, Moon, and stars. At the doom of the gods (Ragnarök), the sons of Muspelheim, led by Surt, will destroy the world by fire.


In Topic: REH Word Of The Week

14 July 2014 - 06:31 AM

Hi Everyone, I'm posting WotW a little early tonight (before it appears on the REHupa website which has automatic postings). My computer has already crashed once tonight and took a long time to come back up so just to be safe....

 

The Word of the Week for July 14, 2014 is Buri

 

http://www.rehupa.com/

 

The poem of the week “Niflheim” was not published during REH’s lifetime. It’s another of his image driven poems that is filled with references to Norse gods and myths:

 

Niflheim: The cold, dark, misty world of the dead, ruled by the goddess Hel. In some accounts it was the last of nine worlds, a place into which evil men passed after reaching the region of death (Hel). Situated below one of the roots of the world tree, Yggdrasil, Niflheim contained a well, from which many rivers flowed. In the Norse creation story. Another version says it is the misty region north of the void in which the world was created--an underworld of eternal cold, darkness, and mist with nine frozen rivers. It is inhabited by those who died of old age or illness and is ruled over by Hel, a daughter of Loki and Angerboda.

 

Midgard: the abode of human beings in Norse mythology, specifically one of the Nine Worlds in Norse mythology.

 

Audhumla: The primeval cow on whose milk the Giant Ymir fed. She was created from the melting ice at the beginning of time. She sustained herself by licking the salt and hoar frost from the ice of Niflheim eventually revealing the god Buri.

 

Ymir: The primordial giant and the progenitor of the race of frost giants. He was created from the melting ice of Niflheim, when it came in contact with the hot air from Muspell (Muspellheim). From Ymir's sleeping body the first giants sprang forth: one of his legs fathered a son on his other leg while from under his armpit a man and women grew out.

The frost kept melting and from the drops the divine cow Audumla was created. From her udder flowed four rivers of milk, on which Ymir fed. The cow itself got nourishment by licking hoar frost and salt from the ice. On the evening on the first day the hair of a man appeared, on the second day the whole head and on the third day it became a man, Buri, the first god. His grandchildren are Odin, Ve and Vili.

 

Two other verses of “Niflheim” give us more references:

 

Sound out the war-horn’s doom for Ragnarok!

Let man’s destroyers roar from Jotunnheimr

To rend the world and hurl the oceans down

Till in high Asgard wake the sleeping gods.

 

Then in the crashing combat of that day,

Let Midgard rise and roar and Ymir wake,

Till bergs of ice roar down to Muspellheim

And all becomes as thou art, Niflheim.

 

Ragnarok: The final destiny of the gods. The Vikings believed that the world one day would end as we know it, they called this day for Ragnarok, also spelled Ragnarök in old Norse. Ragnarok is the doom of the gods and the humans. It will be the final battle between the Aesir and Jotuns. The battle will take place on the plains called Vigrid.

 

Jotunnheimr: one of the Nine Worlds and the homeland of the Giants of Norse MythologyRock Giants and Frost Giants.

 

Asgard: In Norse religion, it is one of the Nine Worlds and home to the Æsir tribe of gods. One of Asgard's well known locations is Valhalla, in which Odin rules. [NOTE: Asgard was Word of the Week on January 21 2013 http://www.rehupa.com/?cat=13&paged=8]

 

Muspellheim: in Norse mythology, a hot, bright, glowing land in the south, guarded by Surt, the fire giant. In the beginning, according to one tradition, the warm air from this region melted the ice of the opposite region, Niflheim, thus giving form to Ymir, the father of the evil giants. Sparks from Muspelheim became the Sun, Moon, and stars. At the doom of the gods (Ragnarök), the sons of Muspelheim, led by Surt, will destroy the world by fire.

Barb


In Topic: REH Word Of The Week

13 July 2014 - 02:59 AM

VK,

Yet, I wonder if REH would have considered that what he wrote adequately described what he saw. It probably affected him more than he could express. 

 

Using the word "indescribable" and following it with a description (however inadequate) is something I've seen many writers do. I almost used it myself in my Howard Days trip report when I was talking about a lightning storm that was beyond anything I experienced before. I started to use the word "indescribable" -- despite the fact I knew with lots of words I could probably give you an idea of what occurred physically but when the whole is much more than its parts, words become inadequate. I finally ended up writing:

 

      We got to the gravesite about 8:15 or so and spent some quiet time with REH, took some photos and headed toward Cross Plains. It had started to sprinkle while we were at the cemetery and the sky opened up with rain for a little bit but then just as we passed Brownwood Lake and for most of the drive to CP, we were treated to a lightning display that defies adequate description. Lightning flashes lit up the ground like daylight with streaks that played tag and hide and seek across sky and clouds in an energy dance driven by some hidden orchestra. Very little thunder and just when I thought it couldn’t get much more impressive, it always did.

            I flashed back to the first time I went to Cross Plains, I saw a sunset painted across the sky from horizon to horizon in so many tints of rose and other colors, they reminded me of REH during his conversations with Novalyne. He *arranged* those for Novalyne and as I watched it light up both earth and sky, it became personal for me. Driving to Cross Plains this past June I had the same feeling as lightning flash after lightning flashed showed off -- with more beauty and power than I had ever experienced. 

 

Yet this does not convey what I saw or the excitement I felt. A scientific explanation might handle the definition of lightning but not the sensation of actually seeing it. The physical phenomenon can be described but not the feeling that it inspires?  

 

This conversation about descriptions reminds me of these two verses from REH's untitled poem ("There were three lads...")

 

They saw, they felt but could not put in words

The things of beauty that oft met their eyes,

Waving of blossoms and the flight of birds,

The tints of sun-set fading from the skies.

They dimly glimpsed the sky-kissed mountain crest

And felt chagrin of failure, dim unrest.

 

But I have got a lot of thoughts in me—

But what’s the use? There never was a school

Could teach a fellow to write poetry.

And yet it’s in my soul. I’d like to tell

The things I feel and see and sometimes think

Yet I can’t catch and put them into ink—

My thoughts are great—my speech so barren. Hell!”

 

Funk is not in the Collected Poetry. Great word and more history to it than I also would have thought. Thanks VK for your comments.

Barbara


In Topic: REH Word Of The Week

10 July 2014 - 12:44 PM

Hi Deuce,

Good to hear from you. I think you’re right, my definition was too broad. It should have been narrowed to “Roman Legion” since “A Song of the Legions” relates to the Rome and the breakdown given is based on that.

 

The difficulty with the word “legion” probably stems from its two definitions: (1) a unit of 3,000 to 6,000 men in the Roman army; and (2) a vast host, multitude, or number of people or things.

 

The quote from the story“ Lord of Samarcand” (Lord of Samarcand and Other Adventure Tales of the Old Orient. University of Nebraska Press. 2005. p. 140):

 

Time flowed on as it does whether men live or die. The bodies rotted on the plains of Nicropolis, and Bayazid drunk with power, trampled the scepters of the world. The Greeks, the Serbs and the Hungarians he ground beneath his iron legions; and into his spreading empire he molded the captive races.

 

I’m no expert on the art of war so it’s possible that Bayazid’s army was based on something similar to the principles of Rome’s legions. The main power of Bayazid’s Turkish forces was 65,000 strong, which would break down to about seven legions; or the reference to *iron legions* could alternately mean multitudes or army.

 

At any rate, I appreciate the post Deuce. I did a little research on Bayazid and found the following VERY interesting information which differs only slightly from REH’s more thrilling and dramatic account. The main difference is this version is more sympathetic to Bayazid.

 

            In 1392, Sigismund, king of Hungary advanced against the Turks in Bulgaria and though victorious at first was eventually forced to retreat. He appealed to other European princes. Philip the Bold of Burgundy sent his only son, the count de Nevers and the flower of French nobility accompanied him…The French knights boasted they would support the sky itself with their lances, if it fell upon them; no thought of defeat crossed their proud, impetuous minds and it seemed an easy matter to them not only to drive the Turks out of Europe but to advance into Asia and free the Holy Sepulchre. The campaign was opened by the siege of Nikopoli. Bayazid hurried to the assistance of the garrison….the day of this unhappy battle was the 28th of September 1396. To no purpose did Signsmund entreat the French not to waste their strength on the light Turkish cavalry but to await the advance of the janissaries and spahis. This regarded this as an insult to their honor and rushed madly and inconsiderately to battle. Thousands fell before them and the victory might have been gained had they not rashly dispersed in pursuit ere they came up with the nucleus of Bayazid’s army. When they perceived this phalanx their spirits sank. The majority fled in terror; a few only sought and found an honorable death, but even flight could not save the rest. The count de Nevers was taken prisoner with twenty-one of his most illustrious comrades-in-arms. In vain did Sigismund now lead up his Bavarian and Styrian knights and a body of his brave Hungarians. The fate of the day was decided by the Servians who were confederates of the Turks. Sigismund escaped with great difficult on board a boat on the Danube.

            When Bayazid on the next morning, surveyed the battlefield and saw sixty thousand of his soldiers lying dead, he wept for grief and swore to revenge the death of so many Turks upon the captives. After the French knights had been reserved for the sake of the heavy ransom, the sultan ordered a massacre and ten thousand of the prisoners had been killed ere his magnates cast themselves at his feet and implored mercy for the rest, which he conceded. …Bayazid was only prevented by a severe attack of gout from pursuing his victorious career in the west, but his troops advanced far into Styria and burned Pettau.

            In the meanwhile the terrible Timur the Lame had subverted the most powerful thrones in Asia and advanced to the Euphrates on the appeal for assistance from the Greek court. In 1400 he conquered the Pontic town of Sebastia (now called Sivas) and executed Bayazid’s son, who fell into his hands on this occasion. Bayazid, who was then before the walls of Constantinople raised the siege and hurried to Asia Minor. Timur had in the meantime marched southwards and in a very short space of time Aleppo, Damascus and Baghdad fell before his powerful army. At last the Turkish and Mongolian army met for the decisive contest before Angora (1402). The two armies probably amounted to a million warriors and although the Mongolians were far superior in number, the Turks made up for this by the experience in war.

            Bayazid selected, in contradiction to the advice of his grand vizir, [ironically this follows REH’s story] a plain for the battlefield and as the Asiatics serving in his army deserted to Timur during the engagement, the Turks were defeated in spite of their usual bravery, and Bayazid was taken prisoner. Timur treated the captured monarch with respect and after his attempt to escape, had him carried from each encampment in a gilded litter, like those that Turkist ladies made use of. Thence arose the rumor of the iron cage in which he was said to be kept. Bayazid died in prison in 1403 and Timur retired to Samarkand where he also died in 1405.

            With Bayazid’s captivity and death the Turkish Empire seemed utterly annihilated, more especially as his sons carried on a war against each other… (The Historians' History of the World: Poland, The Balkans, Turkey, Minor ... edited by Henry Smith Williams)

In Topic: Poems and Verse of Robert E. Howard

07 July 2014 - 07:28 AM

This is continued from the Word of the Week thread under the category of Robert E. Howard. The Word of the Week is “a-tune” and the poem is “A Song of the Legions.” For background and fun facts about Roman Legions see Word of the Week on the Forum.

 

Howard had very strong feelings about Rome and these are reflected in an early letter dated July 30, 1923, when he wrote to Tevis Clyde Smith (The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard, v1 p13) noting that Rome itself was vulnerable to attack.

 

Rome spread her empire across the world. Then she became dissolute, debauched and—the barbarians drove in. The tribesmen of Genseric, of Attila, of Alaric, raided, looted, in the very streets of Rome.

 

In fact there are many more references to Rome in his letters. About eight years later, he wrote to HPL ca January 1931 (CL, v2 p155). Here he writes in stronger terms about Rome:

 

When I dream of Rome I am always pitted against her, hating her with a ferocity that in my younger days persisted in my waking hours, so that I still remember, with some wonder, the savage pleasure with which I read, at the age of nine, the destruction of Rome by the Germanic barbarians. At the same time, reading of the conquest of Britain by those same races filled me with resentment. Somehow I have never been able to conceive fully of a Latinized civilization in Britain; to me the struggle has always seemed mainly a war of British barbarians against Germanic barbarians, with my sympathies wholly with the Britons.

 

About a month later he tries to explain this resentment to HPL ca February 1931 (CL, v2 p 183):

 

My antipathy for Rome is one of those things I can’t explain myself. Certainly it isn’t based on any early reading, because some of that consisted of MacCauley’s Lays of Ancient Rome from which flag-waving lines I should have drawn some Roman patriotism, it seems. At an early age I memorized most of those verses, but in reciting, changed them to suit myself and substituted Celtic names for the Roman ones, and changed the settings from Italy to the British Isles! Always, when I’ve dreamed of Rome, or subconsciously thought of the empire, it has seemed to me like a symbol of slavery — an iron spider, spreading webs of steel all over the world to choke the rivers with dams, fell the forests, strangle the plains with white roads and drive the free people into cage-like houses and towns.

 

But a few months later, his anger seems to have tempered a little. In a letter to HPL ca June 1931 (CL, v2 pp 208-9), he balances his antipathy against Rome’s role in bringing a level of civilization and in some ways a better standard of life to its subjects:

 

Another thing difficult to understand is my aversion toward things Roman. As you say, Rome made no attempt to destroy the folk-traditions of her subjects; life in the Roman republic and early empire must have been far more desirable than life in the later feudal age. Rome built system and order out of chaos and laid down the lines of a solid civilization — and yet the old unreasoning instinct rises in me and I cannot think of Rome as anything but an enemy! Maybe it’s because Rome always won her wars until the very last days, and my instincts have always been on the side of the loser — Celtic instincts again, I suppose

 

But this changes when he discusses the Picts with HPL in a letter dated March 2, 1932 (CL v2, pp 308-9):

 

      As to my feelings toward the mythical Picts, no doubt you are right in comparing it to the Eastern boy’s Indian-complex, and your own feelings toward Arabic things. My interest in the Picts was always mixed with a bit of fantasy—that is, I never felt the realistic placement with them that I did with the Irish and Highland Scotch. Not that it was the less vivid; but when I came to write of them, it was still through alien eyes—thus in my first Bran Mak Morn story (“Men of the Shadows”)—which was rightfully rejected—I told the story through the person of a Gothic mercenary in the Roman army; in a long narrative rhyme which I never completed, and in which I first put Bran on paper, I told it through a Roman centurion on the Wall; in “The Lost Race” the central figure was a Briton; and in “Kings of the Night” it was a Gaelic prince. Only in my last Bran story, “The Worms of the Earth” which Mr. Wright accepted, did I look through Pictish eyes, and speak with a Pictish tongue!

      In that story, by the way, I took up anew, Bran’s eternal struggle with Rome. I can hardly think of him in any other connection. Sometimes I think Bran is merely the symbol of my own antagonism toward the empire, an antagonism not nearly so easy to understand as my favoritism for the Picts.

 

And these views on Rome are also reflected in his poetry: For example, in “Kings of the Night” (from the story “Kings of the Night, Weird Tales, November 1930) he writes about the legions and Rome who came to conquer the Picts:

 

The Caesar lolled on his ivory throne—

His iron legions came

To break a king in a land unknown,

And a race without a name.

— The Song of Bran

 

REH also wrote of the prisoners and slaves taken by Roman soldiers in “The Road to Rome” (undated):

 

Ah, feet that left a bloody track

  Upon the trodden loam;

The whirling snow, the sun’s red wrack,

The lash that flayed the reeling back,

The shadows changing red and black

  Along the road to Rome.

Ah, sea of eon-ancient fears—

  Red tracks on musty loam—

Of swishing whips and prodding spears

In restless dreams the phantom leers

And haunts me down the endless years—

  The bloody road to Rome.

 

Red-stained shackle and swaying back,

Feet that reeled in a bloody track:

Chains that smote with a clash and a clack—

That was the road to Rome.

 

In “An Echo From the Iron Harp” (undated), the Cimbri are among those who preferred to die rather than be taken prisoner by Rome:

 

Baffled and weary, red with wounds, leaguered on every side,
Chained to our doom we smote in vain, slaughtered and sank and died.
Writhing among the horses’ hoofs, torn and slashed and gored,
Gripping still with a bloody hand, a notched and broken sword,

I heard the war-cry growing faint, drowned by the trumpet’s call,
And the roar of “Marius! Marius!” triumphant over all.

 

Through the bloody dust and the swirling fog as I strove in vain to rise
I saw the last of the warriors fall, and swift as a falcon flies

The Romans rush to the barricades where the women watched the fight—
I heard the screams and I saw steel flash and naked arms toss white.
The ravisher died as he gripped his prey, by the dagger fiercely driven—
By the next stroke with her own hand the heart of the girl was riven.

Brown fingers grasped white wrists in vain—blood flecked the gasping loam—
The Cimbri yield no virgin-slaves to glut the gods of Rome!

 

“An Echo From the Iron Harp” also tells of the epic battles between Rome and the Cimbri, some of which the Cimbri won early on and of their final battle against Rome (for a full background on this see Black Gate website: Robert E. Howard: The Poet and the Girl with the Golden Hair and Eyes like the Deep Grey Sea” (http://www.blackgate...sea/#more-28842)

 

REH’s prediction regarding Rome’s fall that he spoke of in his letter to TCS in 1923, is also touched on in “Shadows on the Road (Weird Tales May 1930).”

 

Nial, what saw you in Rome?—

Purple emperors riding there,

Down aisles with walls like marble foam,

To the golden trumpet’s mystic flare?

Dark-eyed women who bind their hair,

As they bind men’s hearts, with a silver comb?

Spires that cleave through the crystal air,

Arch and altar and amaranth stair?

Nial, what saw you in Rome?

“Broken shrines in the sobbing gloam,

“Bare feet spurning the marble flags,

“Towers fallen and walls digged up,

“A woman in chains and filthy rags.

“Goths in the Forum howled to sup,

“With an emperor’s skull for a drinking-cup.

“The black arch clave to the broken dome.

“The Coliseum invites the bat,

“The Vandal sits where the Caesars sat;

“And the shadows are black on Rome.”

 

Rome wouldn’t be Rome without its arena and gladiators and he discusses this from a couple of viewpoints. First is “The Gladiator and the Lady.” (From a letter to TCS ca April 1930; CL v2, p 31-2) who are separated by their stations in life:

 

When I was a boy in Britain and you were a girl in Rome,

Forests and mountains lay between, and the hungry, restless foam.

Today naught lay between us, only the wall, at least,

That guards the proud patrician from the slave and the dying beast.

Our hearts we read that instant my eyes with your eyes met,

But there were swords to sunder and life blood to be let.

And you will marry a consul and live on the Palatine

And I will take some slave girl from the Garonne or the Rhine.

 

But you will dream at the banquet, while the roses scent the air

Of a blazing-eyed barbarian with a shock of yellow hair.

And through the roar of the lions and the clang of sword and mace,

I’ll dream of a pair of dark deep eyes and a proud patrician face.

We still are as far asunder as the hut and the arch and dome

When I was a boy in Britain and you were a girl in Rome.

 

In “The Cells of the Coliseum” (undated) the story about a captured Goth awaiting the arena battle the next morning is more grim:

 

Along the halls a trumpet calls.

The red arena glimmers nigh.

Thor, let me mock these fools of Rome,

And show them how a Goth can die.

 

REH was right the barbarians did come and Rome didn’t win all its battles. In “Echoes of an Iron Anvil” (undated) there are those who wait to conquer Rome:

 

I leave to paltry poets

The tabor and the lute;

I sing in drums and tom-toms

The black abysmal brute—

My voice is of the people,

That giant wild and mute.

I toiled in Tuscan vineyards,

I broke the beaten loam;

I strained against the mallet

That drove the chisel home;

I sweated in the galleys

That broke the road to Rome.

 

And “The Song of Horsa’s Galley” (undated) tells of a planned Viking raid on Rome:

 

To the outmost roads of the plunging sea

Our dragon ships are hurled,

We have broken the chains of the Southern Danes

And now we break the world.

 

Out of the dark of the misty north

We come like shapes of the gloam

To harry again the Southland men

And trample the arms of Rome.

 

The aftermath of Roman downfall—and Rome’s defeat—is depicted in “Hadrian’s Wall” (undated):

 

Against these stones red waves of carnage brake;

Along these parapets Rome’s armor shone.

Here swarmed the Picts, when ghastly tribes unknown

Came trooping down from heath and mountain lake;

Here leaped the Saxon sword, red thirst to slake.

Here sounded night on night the war-horn’s drone

Mocking the desperate Britons left alone

When ’neath her feet Rome felt her empire shake.

 

Perhaps the letter discussing Rome’s contributions in conquered lands explains his poem “A Calling to Rome” (undated) which is just four lines. At any rate it does show that he was capable of seeing a situation from both viewpoints. Or it could be another verse that reflects the same sentiments as in “The Gladiator and the Lady.”

 

There’s a calling, and a calling and a calling me to Rome,

Where the columns prop the planets and the walls are marble foam.

Oh, the gilt upon the galleys and the purple on the prows,

Oh, the dark eyes deep and mystic and the circlets on the brows.

 

Again, having dates for these poems would have allowed us to place his poetry and letters in context.

 

I hope everyone who is writing poetry is dating theirs! You never know....

BarB