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‘Surges the Tide’
Ocean-Thoughts by Robert E. Howard, reading from A Word from the Outer Dark, page 35
Five three-line verses march to the final and sixth verse, as if the poet were walking the magnetic tide of ghostly illumination inward, toward the loneliest shore in the fantastical islands of his mind’s eye.
A sense of the darkling quest permeates Ocean-Thoughts and reminds this reader of Howard’s two Faring Town tales, and most of all his most nautical Conan tale, Queen of the Black Coast.
The thematic tone strikes this reader, verse by verse, like so:
The sea whispers of deeper, darker truths to the man caged by its wind-driven shore.
The wild things of the world, whole and free, accompany the Ocean song, beckoning the man.
The ocean waxes terrible, cowing the landed man.
The sea calms into the ghost of creation, drawing the man’s mind…
Yet the ocean remains savage in its guardianship of fabled places, kept forever free—
Leaving the man longingly bereft of purpose on the civilized shore, its nature resistant to man’s going inwardly forth.
Robert E. Howard’s Ocean-Thoughts is a testament to man’s imprisonment behind the invisible bars of his self-shamed weir, pierced only by dreams like water, the lives of men like fish in its grasp, and this reader’s opinion is an expression of his barbarism versus civilization theme, intertwined with his obsession with confounding gulfs.
Writing Unchained
Prolific Writing by Design
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