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Member Since 31 Dec 2008
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In Topic: Poems and Verse of Robert E. Howard

Today, 03:02 AM


Thank you very much for posting this. I haven't had time to really absorb all the information in Rusty's article but one thing that blew me away was:


"Our habit of complimenting our friends, and deprecating ourselves, is merely part of our code of courtesy; the compliments are sincere, but when we deprecate ourselves, it does not mean that we lack self-esteem. Under our politeness generally lurks a keen vanity, and a sometimes dangerous pride." (REH Selected Letters 1931-1936, #64, p. 25, to HPL, 9/22/32).


This explains so much about his statements such as his poetry is muck and praising TCS's poems. I looked this up in the Collected Letters (v2 pp 436-37) and found this additional information. 


There is a vast difference between the old stock native Texan and people from more civilized sections. Though now it is the style in many parts of the state to ape Eastern ways and despise the mannerisms of their fathers. Eastern ways are good for the East, where they naturally developed. I am not so sure than an imitation of those ways is so good. But the old Texan: a great number of the people who have flooded this state in quest of climate, health or money, do not understand us, and make no effort to, being fortified with a feeling of their own superiority. Many evidently expect to be shot at the minute they get off the train or the boat, and finding us not particularly sanguinary, immediately swing to the other side, and despise us for lack of spirit. They seem to mistake our natural courtesy for servility. Our code of politeness does no doubt seem exaggerated to a stranger from parts where life moves at quicker tempo. Our habit of complimenting our friends, and deprecating ourselves, is merely part of our code of courtesy; the compliments are sincere, but when we deprecate ourselves, it does not mean that we lack self-esteem. Under our politeness generally lurks a keen vanity, and a sometimes dangerous pride. Beneath the veneer of our courtesy we are generally hot tempered and unforgiving. We remember our friends long, but we remember our enemies longer. Of course you know that these remarks can not apply to all Texans, now that the state is become thickly settled and complex. But it does apply to the people of the old original stock. Another thing, more cultured people are prone to sneer at a certain melodramatic tendency in people of the old stock. It is there; I would be the last to deny it. It crops out continually in my writing, occasionally in my speech, though never in my actions. (CL v2 pp 436-37)]


How much of this was written in exaggeration to HPL is difficult to know but it gave me additional insight into some of REH's statements and actions.

Again, Deuce, thanks.

There is so much good info about REH out there and I'm hoping it doesn't get lost at some point....Needless to say, I'm enjoying reading Rusty's article very much....


In Topic: REH Word Of The Week

Yesterday, 08:13 AM

The Word of the Week for March 2, 2015 is ham




The fourth and final book of the four volume boxing stories Fists of Iron is set to ship sometime later this month. To celebrate that, Word of the Week is highlighting boxing terms in REH’s poetry. This week’s poem “When You Were a Set Up and I Was a Ham” was not published during REH’s lifetime. The word “ham” in this connotation is used in only two of his poems.


REH’s boxing poems are most often written in the first person. However, some of them seem more personal than others. Boxing with his friends would be an example of this.


In the untitled “Match a toad with a far winged hawk” he actually mentions Clyde:


Match a toad with a far-winged hawk,

A scarlet rose with a thistle stalk;

A stagnant pond with the white sea-tide—

You match the friendship of Bob and Clyde.

Clyde was a plucker of gems divine—

Bob was half poet, half devil-swine.

One of them mounted the gods’ own peak,

Out of the world’s vile muck and reek,

Up from the world-plain’s ruck and slime,

Climbed on a ladder of godlike rhyme.—

One of them made his bid for fame,

Scorched his wing at the Muses’ flame,

Warped his soul like a brooding devil

Found at last, and kept to, his level.

A friendship strange—yet it lasted on

Till their lives had faded to dusk from dawn.

Friendship of a falcon for a mugger—

Gods’ own poet and third-rate slugger.

Lived their lives, friend unto friend—

Each in his own way met his end.

One of them passed like a Median king—

One of them died in a boxing ring.


In the untitled “There were three lads” boxing is just a part of the friendship between them. It makes a nice contrast to their other interests.


There were three lads who went their destined ways

Bewildered by this thing that men call Life—

Toiled through the week and idled leisure days,

And cursed the world but knew the world was rife

With things of beauty even they could see.

They reveled in old tales of ages hoary

And plagued by souls vaguely reaching out for glory,

But knew a dim, uncertain longing to be free.


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.


And sometimes they would put on leather gloves

And therewith deal each other manful blows,

Pausing perchance to shake a bleeding nose,

Admire a leafy bough or budding rose,

Through loosened teeth quote poets’ songs of loves.

They took delights in rough and savage games,

Strong drink, and called each other scorching names.

Yet they would turn aside to smell a flower. Oftentimes

Would sit them down and seek to make some rhymes.


I think it’s a pretty safe guess he is discussing himself, Truett Vinson and Clyde Smith. There are photos of them boxing. The other poem that references the current WotW is the untitled (“We are the duckers of crosses”)


We are the duckers of crosses,

We are the swingers of swings.

We count our gains and our losses

In all of the fourth rate rings.

We are the bums and the slackers

Swiggers of Ancient Crow.

Yet the fans pay sixteen smackers

To see us knocked for a row.

Bout losers and bout forsakers

They hand us a-many slams,

For we are the set-ups and fakers,

We are the fourth-rate hams!

We are the takers of slams and blips!

Jester and ring-side clown!

But sometimes we go with our trunks on our hips

And jerk us a title down!

Taking bouts that champs are shying,

Where the ring gong clangs and thrums

Where the swinging mitts are flying—

We are the fourth-rate bums!


If there is something familiar about this poem, here is “Ode” by Arthur O’Shaughnessy. I came across the first verse of this poem engraved on a rock in the Guadalupe River Park in San Jose, California decades ago.


We are the music-makers,

And we are the dreamers of dreams,

Wandering by lone sea-breakers,

And sitting by desolate streams.

World-losers and world-forsakers,

Upon whom the pale moon gleams;

Yet we are the movers and shakers,

Of the world forever, it seems.


O’Shaunghnessy isn’t listed in the Howard Bookshelf compilation,  yet it appears pretty persuasive that REH had read the poem “Ode.”


While “In the Ring” doesn’t refer to REH and his friends, I think this poem gives us a little insight into his ability to focus during one of his boxing bouts and what it's like in the ring. As usual, REH's ability to place us in the action is awesome.


Over the place the lights go out,

Except for the cluster above the ring;

The crowd begins to thunder and shout;

At the tap of the gong I whirl and spring.

And I hear the snarl of my chargin’ foe,

The Cobra Kid from Old Mexico.


And the ropes ain’t there, and the crowd ain’t there;

It’s me and him, in the ring lights’ glare;

Like cavemen foes in an age of stone

On the ridge of the silent world alone.


He ducks my lead as he surges in

And his left hook crashes against my chin,

And he shuts my eye with a round-house slam

That feels like the bunt of a batterin’ ram.


The lights are swimmin’ and so is the ring;

Blind I fall in clinch and cling;

The referee grunts as he tears us apart,

And I ram a left in under the heart.


And he batters me back across the ring—

Jab and uppercut, hook and swing—

A torrent of smashes that never slack—

I feel the ropes against my back.


Hard to the head he cannonades

And I hit the mat on my shoulder-blades.

My brain’s full of fog, my mouth’s full of brine,

But I hear the referee countin’, “Nine!”


And up I reel, though my legs won’t work

And the ring lights swim in a crimson murk.

The Cobra rushes, set for the spill,

Wild and wide open, blind for the kill.


And desperate, reelin’, I shoot my right,

The last blind blow of a losin’ fight.

And my right connects and his head goes back,

Till it looks, begod, like his neck would crack.


New strength surges through every vein

And the panther wakes in my punch drunk brain.

His knees, they buckle, his white lips part

As I blast my right in under the heart.


His jaw falls slack, his eyes, they blink,

As deep in his belly my left I sink;

Then every ounce of my beef goes in

To the right I heave to his sagging chin.


The leather bursts and the hand gives way,

But it’s the end of a perfect day.

He hasn’t stirred at the count of ten,

The referee lifts my hand and then

I hear the yells of the crowd again.


Next week, more boxing from REH’s poems.


In Topic: Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)

28 February 2015 - 01:40 AM

When I read about the death one of these beloved icons there’s a part of me that is startled and can’t believe they are not immune to our human frailties—a completely illogical reaction according to Spock. But, they are larger than life and while their memories and images will last, sadly, there will be no more new performances to look forward to and there will be no more statements like “Captain, the statistical likelihood that our plan will succeed is less than 4.3999 percent” made by Leonard Nimoy as Spock.


I drink to the shade of someone who…..well, words fail me right now and I think that reaction is completely logical.


In Topic: Robert E. Howard's Pseudonyms

24 February 2015 - 12:49 PM


Thanks for the heads up. After reading what you posted, I read both "The House" and "The House in the Oaks" plus a couple of critical essays on the stories from the blog Written World. "The House That Should Not Be" and "Addendem. What We Learned From the House."




The description of Justin's background with all its details and nuances is IMO the best part of the story. Thanks to The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard p. 498 which gives the original transcript of "The House" and the Berkley Black Canaan p. 67 containing "The House in the Oaks" which includes the pages Derleth added, I was able to see  where REH ended and Derleth took over. I found the latter's writing to be tamer and not as vivid but I was glad to be able to read it since you had piqued my interest in it.


This whole interest in Justin began when I thought I had discovered another alias for REH but it turned into quite a story of its own for me. Piece by piece the background for it became clearer and the words from REH's poem "The Tide" come to mind. 


And the skein that I must unravel

Was never meant for all.


Thanks for posting this. Fascinating...Howard fans are really fortunate to have this Forum!


In Topic: Robert E. Howard's Pseudonyms

23 February 2015 - 09:31 PM

Strom & All,

Rob Roehm tells me this isn't technically a pseudonym since REH didn't publish under it. Justin is a fictional character he created. I'm glad to know that he wrote some poems under this name and I'll keep an eye out for it as I read.


Thanks for pinning the list for anyone who is looking for his pseudonyms. This way it's always in one place.