[by Rob Roehm. Originally published April 6, 2013, at rehtwogunraconteur.com; this version lightly edited.]
While digging through Robert E. Howard’s letters to Tevis Clyde Smith, I stumbled onto two poems that didn’t make it into The Collected Poetry volume. Both poems are embedded at the end of prose paragraphs and not easily distinguished from them. Easy to miss if you’re scanning for lines of verse. Anyway, both of the items are in The Collected Letters, volume 3, page 489.
I found one of them a while ago and reported it to Paul Herman. That poem appears on the Howard Works website as “Untitled (‘Deep in my bosom . . .’),” but the other poem I just noticed today, a few lines above the other one. Neither has been published as a poem, only as part of the letter (and the wrong letter, at that, but that’s a story for another time).
The first new poem is in this paragraph:
I speak scathingly of vice—bad women, bad liquor and profanity. Hell. Let me dream by a silver stream till I sight my vision’s gleam, then let me sigh for the days gone by when I dreamed of a golden dream.
A little tweaking yields the following quatrain:
Let me dream by a silver stream
Till I sight my vision’s gleam,
Then let me sigh for the days gone by
When I dreamed of a golden dream.
The poem I’d found before is at the end of the next paragraph:
I am composed of two elements, intellect and animal instinct. Both are above average. My intellect tells, and proves logically that there is nothing to life, that it is a barren and empty bauble to which to cling. My animal instinct commands that I live in spite of Hell and damnation. My intellect sees, knows, and realizes; my instinct gropes blindly in the dark, like a blindfolded giant, seeing nothing, knowing nothing except the tremendous urge to exist. It does not reason, it does not weigh cause and result, nor seek the why and wherefore. All that it knows is Life and toward life it grasps and clutches as a tree gropes to the light. Deep in my bosom I lock him, the giant that grips me to life the floods of Eternity rock him, his talons drip red with the strife. He in the shadows is brooding, away from the light of my brain, but his hands are forever intruding, he anchors my soul with a chain.
Some more tweaking and we get these two quatrains:
Deep in my bosom I lock him,
The giant that grips me to life,
The floods of Eternity rock him,
His talons drip red with the strife.
He in the shadows is brooding,
Away from the light of my brain,
But his hands are forever intruding,
He anchors my soul with a chain.
I would not be surprised if there are more undiscovered bits of verse hiding in Howard’s correspondence. Let the hunt begin!