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‘The Dying Fled the Dead’
Dead Man’s Hate by Robert E. Howard
Reading from The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard, 2008, Del Ray, NY, page 49, originally published in Weird Tales, January 1930
“They hanged John Farrel in the dawn amid the market-place:
At dusk came Adam Brand to him and spat upon his face.
‘Ho, neighbors all,’ spake Adam Brand, ‘see ye John Farrel’s fate!’
‘Tis proven here a hempen noose is stronger than man’s hate!’ ”
That is the first verse of this seven verse poem, which is an embodied study of the power of man’s wrath to exceed his biological life span. Each verse is in four lines and is a powerful mini-scene in its own right, like clamation verse. I have not provided a more extensive sample as the seven verses tell a linier story, which I have no desire to spoil.
Dead Man’s Hate is a protest against social justice in favor of personal honor that straddles the line between the ghost story and the blood magic horror tale, and, in a stark glimpsing way, provides a link between the primitive and modern mind, which seemed to have coexisted in Howard in a restless measure fated to deny serenity.
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