Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Poet of the Dark

"The sun sank like a dull-glowing ball into a lake of fire. The blue of the sea merged with the blue of the sky, and both turned to soft dark velvet, clustered with stars and the mirrors of stars. Olivia reclined in the bows of the gently rocking boat in a state dreamy and unreal. She experienced an illusion that she was floating in midair, stars beneath her as well as above. Her silent companion was etched vaguely against the softer darkness. There was no break or falter in the rhythm of his oars: he might have been a fantasmal oarsman rowing her across the dark lake of Death. But the edge of her fear was dulled, and, lulled by the monotony of the motion, she passed into a quiet slumber."

That's Robert E. Howard from the Conan tale 'Iron Shadows in the Moon'. Many who haven't actually read Howard think his work was typical pulp blood and guts. Far from it. His stories are full of dark poetic images like this one. The man could write and he was an expert at setting and mood. It's just one of the things that makes his work stand out among his many imitators.

1 comment:

Gabriele C. said...

Amen to that.

I only discovered Howard in 2006 because I had those prejudices against Arnie/comic books Conan and didn't know about the original. The internet is a great place. :)