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‘From Whence He Came’
John Ringold by Robert E. Howard


From page 15 of A Word from the Outer Dark

John Ringold is a slice of epic narrative, the 14-line biography of a gunfighter famously felled by one of the west’s most storied gunfighters, Doc Holiday.

In this dreaming sing on the possible backstory of the mysterious Ringold, Howard elevates the memory of the heroic dead in the shamanistic fashion lost in our time, which was fading already in his, promoting the idea that the hero’s slain foe becomes imbedded in the life story of the hero, the greater the foe, the greater the hero.

A modern would look upon this poem and—if touched by it—think, “Oh, Holiday was a louse, it should have been him slain under that lonely tree, not this better man.”

But in the heroic worldview—the only true masculine view—John Ringold was a hero too, and his slayer gained heroic gravity in the act, taking on some of Ringold’s aura to carry to his own lonely end.

Most importantly, unlike his “lucky” slayer, Ringold died a hero’s death, rather than fading in the laces of human discard where us mortals are shunted off to in order to erase us under a blanket of pity.

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