Sunday, January 22, 2012

Robert E. Howard (January 22, 1906 - June 11, 1936)

I remember
The dark woods, masking slopes of sombre hills;
The grey clouds’ leaden everlasting arch;
The dusky streams that flowed without a sound,
And the lone winds that whispered down the passes.

Vista upon vista marching, hills on hills,
Slope beyond slope, each dark with sullen trees,
Our gaunt land lay. So when a man climbed up
A rugged peak and gazed, his shaded eye
Saw but the endless vista -- hill on hill,
Slope beyond slope, each hooded like its brothers.

It was gloomy land that seemed to hold
All winds and clouds and dreams that shun the sun,
With bare boughs rattling in the lonesome winds,
And the dark woodlands brooding over all,
Not even lightened by the rare dim sun
Which made squat shadows out of men; they called it
Cimmeria, land of Darkness and deep Night.

It was so long ago and far away
I have forgotten the very name men called me.
The axe and flint-tipped spear are like a dream,
And hunts and wars are shadows. I recall
Only the stillness of that sombre land;
The clouds that piled forever on the hills,
The dimness of the everlasting woods.
Cimmeria, land of Darkness and the Night.

Oh, soul of mine, born out of shadowed hills,
To clouds and winds and ghosts that shun the sun,
How many deaths shall serve to break at last
This heritage which wraps me in the grey
Apparel of ghosts? I search my heart and find
Cimmeria, land of Darkness and the Night.


  1. My name is the Grey Elf, and I approve of this blog post.

  2. There's a kind of glorious undeath in creating a world so long-lasting, loved and lived-in.

  3. Reading a story and tipping a glass towards Texas this evening.

  4. I've always associated Conan with the sort of dreary landscape described above. One reason is that my first exposure to many of the Conan stories was devouring a few battered paperback compilations over the course of a February full of miserable weather when I was in middle school. I was surrounded by a landscape exactly like the one described above and I tend to think of that when I think of Conan.

    According to Howard, this poem was "Written in Mission, Texas, February 1932; suggested by the memory of the hill-country above Fredricksburg seen in a mist of winter rain". Imagine my surprise when I read both the poem and that inspiration a few years ago. You see, I grew up in Fredericksburg so my first exposure to the Conan stories was surrounded by the same landscapes and weather that originally inspired Cimmeria in the first place (even though I didn't know it at the time). I really can't think of a much better way to be exposed to the Conan stories than that.

    I live in a city now but, when I visit my hometown in the winter, I make sure to take a compilation of original Conan stories with me to curl up with if the weather turns dreary like it was in February of 1932.

  5. Is January "Depress Your Readers with Dead Authors" month?

    Let's hear more about Heroica or why alignment is great/sucks or how goblinoids are misused and misunderstood by modern RPGs.

    Heck, there has got to more to say about Dwimmermount.

    Help us kick the winter blues!

    1. Melancholic reflections on dead fantasy writers is a major theme of this blog :)

  6. Thanks for the reminder about it being his birthday. I wish he would have gotten to know how beloved his works would someday be.

  7. Joe, maybe this will help...

    I cannot believe in a paradise
    Glorious, undefiled,
    For gates all scrolled and streets of gold
    Are tales for a dreaming child.

    I am too lost for shame
    That it moves me unto mirth,
    But I can vision a Hell of flame
    For I have lived on earth.

    1. Life is a lamp with the glimmer gone,
      A dank and a darkened cave;
      Yet still I swear by the light of dawn,
      And not by the grip of the grave.

      May God be good to him. Depression is an illness hard to fight, and it invades even the last human fortress -- imagination.

    2. All fled, all done, so lift me on the pyre;
      The feast is over and the lamps expire.

  8. As a Texas, I have to say the hill Country in spring after a rain is one of the prettiest places in the state.

  9. As a general rule, I hate Texas. But the hill country is beautiful, and Fredericksburg is a nice place. They have Texas's oldest brew-pub and a hell of a christmas parade.

  10. Howard's poetry lives in his stories as well.

    It's nice to remember those who gave us the "world" in which we "play." Especially on their birthdays.

    Thanks for the memories, James!

  11. The blog is really slowing down, eh? The death of the Dwimmermount campaign seems to have cooled the D&D fires. As it should, the game is meant to be played, not postulated. Hopefully in 2012 James can find a new group to game with or a new hobby he enjoys as much. Good luck all!

  12. Dwimmermount has been on hiatus for about six months now, owing to one of its key player's having moved away. In the meantime, what remains of the group has been getting together to play boardgames and run irregular RPG sessions. That's fairly typical of my adult gaming and is hardly cause for concern. The absent player visited last weekend and there are plans to get things moving again in the coming weeks, so never fear: Dwimmermount will resume in due course. Honestly, a break is often a good thing and I have little doubt we'll return to the campaign with greater enthusiasm.