REH Word of the Week: weal

noun

  1. a sound, healthy or prosperous state

[origin: prior to 12th century; Middle English wele, from Old English wela; akin to Old English wel well ]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

King Geraint turned to his faithful friends:
“Here the war and my kingdom ends.
“Many have died in this red fray,
“More shall die ere the death of day.
“Turn, I beg you, your steeds toward home;
“Seek your safety beyond the foam.
“Naught is left for a crownless king
“But a kingly death where the broadswords sing.
“But there is no need for you all to die;
“Turn, I beg you, to safety fly.”

Cadallon’s hauberk was seeping red;
But he laughed like a wolf as he shook his head:
“I turn my back when my foes are dead.
“I am a king in my own land
“Though my only crown is a bloody brand.
“I only wish to charge and close
“And gain to the thickest of my foes.”

From his battered Welsh a fierce yell rose.
Said Conmac: “With my last-drawn breath
“I follow my king to life or death.”
Nial’s eyes blazed with a light
Mystic, more than mortal sight.
“Never in all the world,” said he,
“Is one who touches in chivalry,
“Knighthood, honor without taint,
“And kingly courage, thou, Geraint!
“Come weal or evil, time or tide,
“Shoulder to shoulder with you I ride,
“And in death I will still be at your side.”

Few were Turlogh’s words and brief
As well befitted a Gaelic chief:
“While Geraint lives I follow the king.”

[from “The Ballad of King Geraint”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 73 and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 359]