Tuesday, June 12, 2018

‘Against the Sunset’

James LaFond's Impressions of Autumn by Robert E. Howard
Reading from A Word from the Outer Dark, page 79

“Now is the lyre of Homer flecked with rust,” begins the first verse of three in this circadian poem. Reading such brief, atmospheric works shot with reflection and shaded in reds, grays and midnight shadows, one finds—or this reader fancies—the doom-gurgling fountain of Howard’s most striking fantasies set in worlds so dark that his black-maned, dark-hearted and bloody-handed heroes might seem a comet of virtue against the worlds that bore them.

Like Homer, Howard places avian life in the position of intermediaries, messengers from beyond man’s understanding, offering a perspective that renders poets forever envious of the gods. Autumn serves as a curtain for the living stages set by the most powerful fantasist of the 20th century, invoking an inner season that seems to have ever been his time of mind. And, as usual, his starkly chosen words whisper of things then and now taboo.

The sere1 leaves fall on a forgotten lute,
And autumn’s arms enfold a dying race.

Diction Note
1. Sere: being dried and withered

(c) 2018 James LaFond

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