REH Word of the Week: Elder Gods–trees

noun

1. a woody perennial plant, typically having a single stem or trunk growing to a considerable height and bearing lateral branches at some distance from the ground

[origin: before 12th century; Middle English, from Old English treow; akin to Old Norse tre tree, Greek drys, Sanskrit daru wood

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Before the shadows slew the sun the kites were soaring free,
And Kull rode down the forest road, his red sword at his knee;
And winds were whispering round the world: “King Kull rides to the sea.”

The sun died crimson in the sea, the long gray shadows fell;
The moon rose like a silver skull that wrought a demon’s spell,
For in its light great trees stood up like specters out of hell.
…..
The branches writhed like knotted snakes, they beat against the night,
And one great oak with swayings stiff, horrific in his sight,
Tore up its roots and blocked his way, grim in the ghostly light.

They grappled in the forest way, the king and grisly oak;
Its great limbs bent him in their grip, but never a word was spoke;
And futile in his iron hand, the stabbing dagger broke.

And through the tossing, monstrous trees there sang a dim refrain
Fraught deep with twice a million years of evil, hate and pain:
“We were the lords ere man had come and shall be lords again.”

Kull sensed an empire strange and old that bowed to man’s advance
As kingdoms of the grass-blades bow before the marching ants,
And horror gripped him; in the dawn like someone in a trance

[from “The King and the Oak“; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 3; Always Comes Evening, p. 40; Night Images, p. 13; A Word From the Outer Dark, p. 135 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 428]

Art by Ned Dameron