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In Topic: Larry Richter ("theGrayMan"): REH Fan and Scholar (RIP)

Yesterday, 09:03 PM

Ironhand and others,

Thank you for posting these articles/essays by Larry. I only knew him through REHupa and wanted to just sit on his front porch with him and talk about everything in the Universe because all of it interested him and he expressed himself so well. He also listened well and seriously considered anything said to him in a discussion. He was not only very intelligent but he understood what he said from a passionate point of view. I always read his zine first and sat down to talk to him about what he wrote. I read his articles line by line because as Rusty said, there was so much to contemplate. Larry had insights that seemed so obvious when he said them yet didn't seem to exist before he did. I missed our *discussions* after he had to drop out of REHupa because of ill health.


I wish I had followed my instincts to drive up to his front door, sit on the porch and talk with him. Sidney Smith (1771-1845) an English wit, writer and Anglican cleric said "Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable."


"If Conan Died" is a great article. It needs wider distribution. Thanks for printing it Ironhand. Thanks also to Rusty for gathering all Larry's writings and to all of you who contributed. I loved what he did with words. I miss his intelligence, his good sense and his passion. The best any of us can do is to try and carry that flag. 




In Topic: Poems and Verse of Robert E. Howard

27 October 2014 - 07:26 AM

Word of the week for October 27th is “gibbering.” It appears in REH’s Halloween poem “All Hallows Eve” (see http://www.rehupa.com/)


REH used this word in many poems—each like “The Worshippers” seem to be an appropriate posting for Halloween horror.


Man who looks from the shadows with eyes like the seas of night,

What are your thoughts of these moon-struck fools who gibber and screech and dance?

Who turn to the Lords of Darkness from the Goddess of Birth and Light—

Are you laughing, Man of the Shadows, as the blind fools leap and prance?

Wild men and wilder women, they flock to their grisly feast

And soft red lips grow redder as they guzzle the smoking wine;

The white limbs sway in abandon to the tune of a leering priest,

As through the foul incense-thick smoke the smoldering witch-fires shine.


Are you laughing, Man of the Shadows, as the rout grows still more wild,

And the women bare their bodies to the sound of lustful mirth;

As they shout and they jest more foully on noble things defiled—

These gibbering loons that deem themselves the lesser gods of the earth?

The white limbs flash in the moonlight as the gods of a rotting Greece

Come trooping back through the ages to leer through the leaves anew.

While men are fools to their passions, Pan’s worship shall not cease,

For they throne their own soul-foulness and dream that they worship you!


“Altars and Jesters” tells of demons and nameless forms that wreak horror on mankind. 


Feet clashed on the sombre tiling—

Nameless forms in the shapeless dark;

I saw the monsters drearily filing,

Lifeless, naked, inhuman and stark.


Then a demon came like a dream of sinning

And the echoes gibbered my hollow cries;

I saw how his evil jaws were grinning,

His body of jet and his great red eyes.


On the tiles, above my screeching strident,

His jade nails clanked like desert gongs,

And I could not move as he raised his trident

And through my buttocks he thrust the prongs.


“The Dancer” speaks of another kind of “swing, fling and a merry prance.” This horror could also take place in the woods.


A gibbering wind that whoops and drones

A clank of chains and a clatter of bones;

Vultures that circle and swoop and fly

And a glimmer of white against the sky!

And a ghost that rides on the winds that dree,

To dance with the bones on the gallows tree!


With a swing and a fling and a merry prance,

Will you not join in the mirthsome dance?

Why, here is a maid, though her bones are bare,

And the raven has long since reft her hair.

Yet she is as fair as a maid may be,

Come dance with her on the gallows tree!


The gibbering wind shall smite his lute,

And the horned owl shall add his hoot.

There shall be music and tunes enow,

If ye but come to the dance, I trow!

And the chains shall clatter most merrily!

Come ye, and dance on the gallows tree!


In “The Fear That Follows” a murder is committed and right after “fear rose up in my soul like death and I fled from the face of the dead” -- toward the horror that awaits:


Moonlight dappled the pallid sward as I climbed o’er the window sill;

I looked not back at the darkened house which lay so grim and still.

The trees reached phantom hands to me, their branches brushed my hair,

Footfalls whispered amid the grass, yet never a man was there.

The shades loomed black in the forest deeps, black as the doom of death;

Amid the whispers of shapes unseen I stole with bated breath,

Till I came at last to a ghostly mere bordered with silver sands;

A faint mist rose from its shimmering breast as I knelt to lave my hands.


The waters mirrored my haggard face, I bent close down to see—

Oh, Mother of God! A grinning skull leered up from the mere at me!

With a gibbering scream I rose and fled till I came to a mountain dim

And a great black crag in the blood‑red moon loomed up like a gibbet grim.

Then down from the great red stars above, each like a misty plume,

There fell on my face long drops of blood and I knew at last my doom.

Then I turned me slow to the only trail that was left upon earth for me,

The trail that leads to the hangman’s cell and the grip of the gallows tree.


“The King and the Mallet” speaks of another kind of retribution; of a coming horror:


I marked his eagle face, his air divine;

            He saw a huge slave leaning on a maul;

            He did not see the symbol of his fall,

That marked the doom of him and all his line.


But restless chains are clashing in the gloom;

            Deep in the night the blades of knives are beat—

            Gods haste the day when ’neath their slaves’ hard feet

Kings, captains, women gibber to their doom.


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.


“Niflheim” is the Norse legendary land of eternal cold, ice and fog ruled over by Hel. It’s the place for those who died of illness and old age and according to REH it's a “grim land of death” where “monstrous visions lurk” with its own horror:


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.


Together we will burst the brains of men

With darksome wisdom from abysmal heights,

With knowledge that the soul cannot withstand.

Aye, I have watched you, reeling o’er the ice,

When mist-grey monsters swirled along the sky

And through my gibbering laughter stabbed the sleet.


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.


“Skulls and Dust” starts out with “The Persian slaughtered the Apis Bull” but the horror and death didn't stop there.


The eons passed on the desert land;

            (Ammon-Ra is a darksome king.)

And a stranger trod the shifting sand.

            (Egypt’s curse is a deathly thing.)


His idle hand disturbed the dead;

            (Ammon-Ra is a darksome king.)

Till he found Cambysses’ skull of dread

Whence the frenzied brain so long had fled,

That once held terrible visions red.

            (Egypt’s curse is a deathly thing.)


And an asp crawled from the dust inside

            (Ammon-Ra is a darksome king.)

And the stranger fell and gibbered and died.

            (Egypt’s curse is a deathly thing.)


Unlike the earlier poems mentioned here, in “To Moderns” REH uses the word “gibbering” anthropomorphically conjuring up different kind of horror. 


Little poets, little poets,

Your star is growing dim—

A wind is coming out of the East

To rend you life from limb.


Oh, you that sit in the rhymer’s seat

And prattle of little things,

Turn your faces from the gilded scroll

And see what the black wind brings!


What has the true rhyme to do with light,

Love or a flower’s smell?

The poems that set the sky on fire

Were born in the pits of Hell.


Murder and madness, hate and lust,

Gibbering heresies,

These are the tales that poets tell;

Of the seething brain in the rotting shell.

Loose the abhorrent hordes of Hell,

Then carve your poems in blood and rust,

Abysms and blasphemies.


All Hallows Eve is one of those nights that traditionally the veil between this world and others is very thin. “The House in the Oaks” describes the horror that lies beyond very well!


Behind the Veil, what gulfs of Time and Space?

What blinking, moving things to blast the sight?

I shrink before a vague, colossal Face

Born in the mad immensities of Night.

* * * * *

They say foul things of Old Times still lurk

In Dark forgotten corners of the world,

And gates still gape to loose, on certain nights,

Shapes pent in hell . . .


A Happy Halloween to all.


In Topic: REH Word Of The Week

27 October 2014 - 07:14 AM

The Word of the Week for October 27 2014 is gibbering




REH does not mention Halloween in his poems or letters. The closest he comes is the poem “All Hallows Eve” which was not published during his lifetime.


But the word for this week, “gibbering” has been used in his poetry several times. I have posted these on the Poems and Verse thread under Howard’s Other Literary Creations of this Forum.


In this week’s poem, REH speaks of the “gaunt, scaly horrors of the Elder World.” Looking at the letters he and HPL wrote on the subject:


On October 4, 1930, HPL wrote to him:


Yes—the Etruscans certainly form a rich field for the speculative imagination. There is room for a novelist’s work in the vast blank forming their –pre-Roman past, and I wish that you would try handling them some day. They could be connected with fabulous and vanished civilizations in Africa or Atlantis or elsewhere, and represented as the last transmitters of terrible secrets from the Valusian elder world. The dark and mystical character of their religion well lends itself to such exploitation.  (A Means to Freedom, vol 1, p. 53.)


In his next letter, REH responds:


I am much taken with your suggestion for tying up the Etruscans with an Elder World civilization and mean to have a fling at it some day, though my notions about them now are so hazy that it will require a great deal of study of their ways and customs before I would be able to write intelligently about them. (AMtF p. 82)


In a letter to HPL dated February ca 1931, REH states.  (Note: HPL letter to REH enclosing the manuscript is not published)


Thank you very much for loaning me the manuscript (which I’m returning in this letter). I found it fascinating, with its horrific hints of semi-human monstrosities, and Elder cities set in dark, grim jungles. It’s the sort of horror story I like, with its weird foreshadowings and grisly climax — above all, the shadowy web-work of dark implication lying behind the visible action of the tale.


In the same letter REH adds (pp 162-3)


It’s difficult for me to visualize a Romanized Britain. I know it is there, with the villas and towns you dream of, but I’ve always instinctively connected myself with the untamed tribes of the West, or those of the heather. The great oak forests are friendly to me, in my dreams, giving me shelter, food and hiding-place. And it’s almost impossible for me to visualize a Druid as anything but a tall, stately old man, white robed, having golden buckled sandals to his feet and a staff to his hand, with a long white beard and very kindly, very wise eyes. I’ve never been able to think of the cult as any other than white bearded sages, wise in astronomy and agriculture, very close to Nature. It’s difficult for me to think of them in connection with human sacrifices and I’ve never been able to lend in writing an air of mysterious horror to Druidic-worship. I may some day, but it will be in direct violation to my instincts on the matter. My sense of somber mystery and elder-world horror centers on the worship and priest-craft of the little dark people who came before — the Mediterranean race which preceded the Celts into Britain. I can experience a real shuddery sense of black magic and devil-worship when I contemplate these little stone age men, with their dark spirits and their bright spirits, their human sacrifice and their polished weapons and implements, the uses for some of which are not now known.


Not much conversation between the two men who wrote so vividly about elder gods and elder worlds.


In Topic: REH Word Of The Week

20 October 2014 - 07:47 AM

The Word of the Week for October 20, 2014 is hod




This week’s poem “Roundelay of the Roughneck” appeared in the Daniel Baker Collegian April 12, 1926. That was the year of his twentieth birthday.


He sent a number of songs to Robert W. Gordon (1888-1961). Gordon edited the department “Old Songs That Men Have Sung” for Adventure magazine from 1923-1927. REH’s submissions including a verse to “Young Johnny” that he omitted in a previous letter plus three additional songs: “On the Lakes of the Ponchartrain”; “Sandford Burns”, and “My Old Beaver Cap.”


A couple months later in another letter to Gordon, he adds:


As you have doubtless received several thousand versions of “Barbara Allen” I will not bore you with the song, except that I wish to say that the last verse seems to have been dropped from most of the versions that I have seen, which is, as you know,


But by and rade the Black Douglas

And Wow! But he was rough!

For he tore up the bonny briar

And threw it in St. Levins (?) loch


Other songs he sent to Gordon were: “The Bell of Edinburgh Town” which REH considered “one of the most perfect examples of the old Scotch ballad.” Other songs included: “Pretty Polly”, “A Fragment”, “Nelly Till (?)”, “Brady”, and “Tavern Song”.


On April 14th he wrote to Clyde


Being in an (un)poetical mood, I shall take a fiendish glee in flinging various unrhythmic time-squanderings at you.


The REH poems included


The Dancer




Then he quotes “Song of the Seasons” by Faith Baldwin. Then he writes two untitled poems (“We are the duckers of crosses”) and (“The shades of night were falling faster,”). Over the next few months of 1926 he writes the following poems:


(“Give ye of my best though the dole be meager”)

(“Early in the morning I gazed at the eastern skies”)











Dancer (different from The Dancer)










Mountains of California



The Alamo

San Jacinto (Flowers bloom on San Jacinto)


Arcadian Days

Twilight on Stonehenge


Campus at Midnight.


Paging through volume one of The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard, for 1926, I found letters to Clyde Smith about everything under the sun from harlots, to whiskey to Celtic heritage. In between poems he comments on sexual perversions of various authors and poets. Ben Hecht, Sinclair Upton, Swinburne, Oscar Wilde, George Sylvester Viereck. He also says there is great poetry being written now: G. K. Chesterton, H.H. Knibbs, Langdon Smith, Alan Seeger, Shelley, Lanier, and Poe.


He sent a letter to The Ring ca. early 1926, discussing boxing along with his ratings of heavyweights, some of whom are mentioned in his poetry:

James J. Jefferies

James J. Corbett (“When You Were a Set-Up and I Was a Ham”)

Jack Dempsey (“Jack Dempsey” and “And Dempsey climbed into the ring…”)

Peter Jackson

Bob Fitzsimmons (“Jack Dempsey”)

John L. Sullivan (“John L. Sullivan”)

Tom Sharkey

Kid McCoy

Sam Langford

Jack Johnson

Louis Firpo

Jess Willard.


I also found this little gem: On May 7, 1926, he wrote to Clyde “My arms all right. A fool experience. I have ridden nightmares over fences and down roads, but never through windows before.”


It reminded me of something I had read in Mark Finn’s Blood & Thunder (pp 142-43):


Robert took a trip to Brownwood in late April or early May, [1926] and he spent the night with Clyde Smith. That night, Robert had one of his sleepwalking incidents. Robert’s terrified scream woke the whole house. Smith, groggy, opened his eyes to find Robert grappling with a large shape, and, thinking an intruder was in the house, jumped in to help. Before he could do anything, Robert went headlong out the closed window, through the screen. The Smith family found Robert outside, wandering around, apparently dazed. Smith, having been told previously what to do by Robert in the event that a sleepwalking incident happened, talked to Robert until he fell back asleep. Once Robert closed his eyes again, Smith woke his friend up. Robert started. “I’m glad you woke me,” he said. “I dreamed I saw a newspaper and the headlines said, ‘Axe Murderer Slays Three.’” When Smith told him what had happened, Robert said, “I’m glad you couldn’t get to me. I have the strength of a goddamn ape when I’m in the middle of one of these nightmares.” Robert suffered cuts on his face and a deep gash on his arm. Smith’s mother recalled that Robert had let out the most chilling scream she had ever heard.


Dave Lee also confirmed Robert’s nocturnal struggles in an interview with Texas author Howard Waldrop: “Robert would tie his right hand to the bed because he had violent dreams and would wake up swinging.” Robert’s night terrors were a long-standing thing. He mentioned them in Post Oaks and Sand Roughs, and his friends knew him to be a sleep walker, as everyone slept over on road trips and out of town visits. Both sleepwalking and night terrors, particularly in adolescents and adults, are linked to high levels of stress. Children who move to new cities, houses, etc. with great frequency are prone to night terrors. This would clearly be a source of stress and confusion for Robert as a child, but as a young man, it’s an indicator that he was dealing with more than he let on; the desire to succeed in his chosen profession, parental tension, a combination of both, or maybe even neither. It’s obvious that the subject matter of his dreams, the axe-murder slaying families, comes directly from his seven week stay in New Orleans as a young man. In later years, he speaks of New Orleans with a mixture of fascination and disgust—fascinated with its history, and troubled by the number of undesirables currently living there, particularly the Italian. This is also interesting considering that the Italian immigrants were the primary target for the New Orleans Axe-Man. To what degree he carried all of this around with him is a mystery, and since Robert never thought to examine his stress to the point that he wrote anything down, we will never know what was really pulling at him.


Another friend mentions REH’s nightmares according to L. Sprague de Camp.


Tom Ray Wilson, who lived in Cross Plains until 1924, became another intimate. As a high school boy, Tom sometimes drove Dr. Howard on his rounds while the doctor dozed in the back seat of his car. From time to time, Bob slept over at Tom's house, but later Tom reported that he had been scared of Bob because he always carried a hunting knife and often a pistol and suffered from nightmares. So severe were these nightmares that Tom used to tie Bob's toe to the bedpost with a piggin string lest, in his sleep, he rise up and attack his roommate. (DVD, pp 142-43)


The 1926 section in volume one of the Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard is about 40 pages. In the midst of his poems and comments about authors and poets is this passage from a letter to Clyde Smith dated April 14, 1926. It’s something I marked long ago when I first read it.


Comrado mio, we stand at the peak of the ages. Our feet spurn the pinnacles of the Centuries. Don’t you see? Look! Countless eons have gone before Eons uncounted will follow after! The centuries sleep with forgotten kings; ages lie unborn in the womb of infinity. Today is ours! We must seize time swiftly and with strong hand grasp its mane, for Time passes like the night wind. Live! every hour, every minute. Tomorrow, in a hundred years, careless feet will stir our dust, heedless of we who lived and laughed and toiled and passed. Listen! He who fixes his eye on a distant goal and follows unswerved follows the right path, but he whose eyes are blinded to all else is a fool. Our purse may be empty, our back bare, but the Present is ours. The gold of sunset, the rose of dawn, the whisper of the night wind, the breezes on the grass and the trees—today the Universe if ours! And after—who knows?


What a year—365 days reduced to 40 pages of REH letters that are filled with lots of information about REH.


In Topic: Masculinity in the 21st Century: REH and Beyond

16 October 2014 - 05:14 PM

I don’t qualify as a manly man in any shape or form, but I am a huge Conan fan which may give me a passport to post here.


I listened to the podcast and came away with several good points:


What is the difference between being a good man and being good at being a man?


A good man is defined by cultural norms: religion, political ideologies etc.


Being good at being a man is defined as someone who is successful in a survival situation, e.g., warriors. Donovan also mentions four Tactical Virtues


1. Strength (most men are stronger than most women) I found myself asking about internal strength (intestinal fortitude or guts) something that leaders and survivalists exhibit. Perseverance is one form of this.

2. Courage (risk taking)

3. Mastery (of yourself including includes competence at what you do)

4. Honor (uses the traditional definition of reputation as a man who lives up to the Tactical Virtues)


He and Bret McKay talk about flamboyant dishonor which is roughly defined as making a big show of openly rejecting manliness; but also mentioned being shameless about your dishonor.


He also discusses the lack of opportunity in today’s society of office cubicles to show the Tactical Virtues and talks a lot about Dead Men Walking TV program as an example of being able to use (and revel in these virtues.) It’s all about survival.


I definitely agree with the concept of the Tactical Virtues: Strength, Courage, Mastery (of yourself and competence at what you do) as well as Honor. These also apply to women and children of both sexes. If you’re talking about a survival situation, women and children with these qualities would be of value to the tribe or group.


My research about Jack Donovan confirms that he is a very interesting person. According to Wikipedia:


Jack Donovan is an American author known for his writing on masculinity and for his criticisms of feminism and gay culture….Although Donovan is a homosexual himself Androphilia, A Manifesto is a polemic directed at the gay community and contemporary gay culture.


In Androphilia, Donovan employs the word androphilia to distinguish his own experience of homosexual desire, which he defines as a Mars/Mars attraction between two men, from the label “gay” which, Donovan claims, is inseparable from connotations of “effeminacy” and “a whole cultural and a political movement that promotes anti-male feminism, victim mentality, and “leftist” politics.” Donovan uses the term androphilia to emphasize masculinity in both the object and the subject of male homosexual desire, and rejects the gender nonconformity that he sees in gay identity. Donovan advocates withdrawal from the gay community and mainstream gay culture, the rejection of the label “gay,” for those men who feel limited by it, and advises those men to concentrate on developing friendships with heterosexual men and to explore traditional male gender roles.


I had some problems with a few of the disparaging remarks that were made in the broadcast but all in all, it was an interesting and informative 39 minutes. I didn't think he gave any current examples for the opportunity to utilize his definition of manliness (warrior survival skills). However his explanation of the Tactical Virtues was worth listening to and in today’s society of “get as much as you can, as fast as you can, anyway that you can” they represent a different way of thinking. Personally, I hope those Virtues can survive in the current atmosphere.


I’ll be interested to see what others have to say…

Thanks Deuce for posting this…