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‘The Abyss Roars to Me’
The Outgoing of Sigurd the Jerusalem-Farer by Robert E. Howard, reading from A Word from the Outer Dark, pages 28-29

In four verses, one of five lines and three of six, Howard describes the outgoing of a Norseman on crusade. [The Crusades may be said to have begun with the Norman adventurers in Sicily, before the preaching of the Crusade. There was one bloody Viking crusade described in Harold Lamb’s volume on the Crusades, which I read as a boy and which quite impressed me.]

Jerusalem and balmy Middle Sea climes appear nowhere, not even as a vision of a place to be attained. The entire poem is of the search for doom, of dooms beyond doom—for a brutal type of Nirvana—through the act of outgoing. The author etches a word picture of man-killing northern seas, of a sense that the mere act of leaving home is the most hazardous aspect of a quest, where the hero is most like to falter.

“The fires roared in the skalli hall,

And a woman begged me stay—

But the bitter night was falling

And the cold wind calling

Across the moaning spray.”

Clear from the conduct of the author in composing this poem is that the object of the quest is secondary to the trials faced on the hero path.

The Pale Usher

Impressions of Moby Dick: Herman Melville and Modern Man?s Transcendental Journey

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