|Art by Tom Barber.|
Reading the Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard, vol. 2 (1930-1932), and encountered this poem Howard fired off in a letter to his friend Tevis Clyde Smith, circa May 1930.
I followed Asgrim Snorri's son
Around the world and half-way back,
And 'scaped the hate of Galdarthrun
Who sunk our ship off Skagerack.
I lent my sword to Hrothgar then,
His ears were ice, his heart was hard;
He fell with half his weapon-men
To our own kin at Mikligard.
And then for many a weary moon
I labored at the galley's oar
Where men grow maddened by the rune
Of row-locks clacking evermore.
But I survived the reeking rack,
The toil, the whips that burned and gashed,
The spiteful Greeks who scarred my back
And trembled even while they lashed.
They sold me on an Eastern block,
In silver coins their price was paid,
They girt me with a chain and lock --
I laughed and they were sore afraid.
I toiled among the olive trees
Until a night of hot desire
Brought sharp the breath of outer seas
And filled my veins with curious fire.
Then I arose and broke my chain,
And laughed to know that I was free,
And battered out my master's brain
And fled and gained the open sea.
Beneath a copper sun a-drift
I fled the ketch and slaver's dhow,
Until I saw a sail up-lift
And saw and knew the dragon-prow.
Oh, East of sands and moon-lit gulf,
Your blood is thin, your gods are few;
You could not break the Northern wolf
And now the wolf has turned on you.
Now fires that light the coast of Spain
Fling shadows on the Moorish strand;
Masters, your slave has come again,
With torch and axe in his red hand!
You could not break the Northern wolf, And now the wolf has turned on you might top the list of badass things I've ever read.
Can't wait to hear the porchlight poetry readings at REH Days.