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‘Where Dead Men Walk at Night’
Solomon Kane’s Homecoming by Robert E. Howard

Formerly published as ‘As A Ghost Might Speak’, revised

Do you fantasize about taking a weapon in your hand and righting wrongs in the manner of the ancient lethal Aryan hero, as opposed to our modern-postmodern “superhero” who is a slave to popular opinion and craving of government sanction?

Than Robert E. Howard has composed the perfect flawed avenger—Solomon Kane. Do yourself a favor and take up these stories in book form or audio recording and experience your dark fantasy through the frantic dream-fruit of the 100-year-old typewriter of a dark Aryan genius.

In this, the swan song of the Solomon Kane series, Howard chose verse to summarize the career of his favorite character, and set him on the road again, hopefully for a novel length tale. Indeed, I suspect that this poem was intended to be the prologue to that novel, just as the “Oh Prince” narrative was the prologue to the Conan cycle.

This poem only touches on his African experience in summary and serves as an insightful introduction to the character as much as a summary of his career.

The essence of the poem brings Kane back into Howard’s obsession with racial memory and a sense for the physical homeland of one’s ancestors.

In verses 1 an11 Kane comes and goes,

In verses 2 and 10 he makes his way in and out of the community.

In verses 3-9 Kane tells of his adventures in a tavern.

I will reproduce three of the 11 verses below:

Verse 1

“The white gulls wheeled above the cliffs,

the air was slashed with foam,

The long tides moaned along the strand

when Solomon Kane came home.

He walked in silence, strange and dazed

through the little Devon town,

His gaze, like a ghost’s come back to life,

roamed up the streets and down.”

Verse 8

“And I have slain a vampire shape

that sucked a black king white,

And I have roamed through grisly hills,’

where dead men walk at night.

And I have seen heads fall lie fruit

in the slaver’s barracoon,

And I have seen winged demons fly

all naked in the moon”

Verse 10

“A-down the wind like a running pack

the hounds of the ocean bayed,

And Solomon Kane rose up again

and girt his Spanish blade.

In his strange cold eyes a vagrant gleam

grew wayward and blind and bright,

And Solomon put the people by

and went into the night.”

This reader cannot shake the impression that Howard wanted badly to write Kane as an undead character, a spectral avenger—and in some sense did in every story. In each Kane story there is a clear moment when he should have been killed, or when he should have ran or pushed off Conan-like in the face of a supernatural terror, and did not. One may view this full poem as an epic that would have been amplified and embellished, line- by-line into the stories that make up the Kane canon by an impassioned bard in the darkly-shadowed gray world of Robert E. Howard's imagination.

Under the God of Things

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