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‘A Gibbet Grim’
The Fear That Follows by Robert E. Howard
The Fear That Follows, which remained unpublished until 1970, is poem of three 8 line verses, which begins with a murderer’s confession:
“The smile of a child was on her lips—Oh, smile of a last long rest.
My arm went up and my arm went down and the dagger pierced her breast,”
Horrified by his action, the murderer flees across the countryside to escape the scene of his crime and ends up standing beneath a grim-faced moon that is shedding bloody tears on him. At the breach of insanity he turns back into the world of men:
“…to the only trail that was left upon the earth for me,
The trail that leads to the hangman’s cell and the grip of the gallows tree.”
Howard’s work on this piece has the sting of spiritual vengeance about it that pervades some of his best works, such as the Tower of the Elephant, and Queen of the Black Coast, which sketch a cosmos that punishes abominable behavior from beyond the grave and across the ages.
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