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‘On the Ridge of the Silent World’
In the Ring by Robert E. Howard, reading from pages 1-2 of Boxing Stories by University of Nebraska Press, 2005

In the Ring is 11 verses of 4-6 lines of elemental boxing metaphor, mixed with some incisive points concerning the reality of the fistic art. Howard differentiates between the “hook” and “swing” which represents an old tradition, with the hook understood as an interior blow that dissects the swing or round blow, as it was earlier called. The most extreme form of the round blow is the haymaker.

For a feel for Howards boxing sense, that the ring was a place where men were shaped and wills hardened, below is verse 5, followed by the first two lines of verse 9:

“As he batters me across the ring—

Jab and uppercut, hook and swing—

A torrent of smashes that never slack—

I feel the ropes against my back.”

“New strength surges through every vein

And the panther wakes in my punch drunk brain.”

Even in his treatment of boxing, a civilized ritual combat, Howard employs totemic imagery, such as the panther, to describe the heroic stirrings within a man. Howard’s boxing heroes are hyper-masculine furies, rising through sheer will from the flawed stuff of humanity to the brutal pinnacle, barely preserved for their mutual sculpture in Small Time.

The Punishing Art

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