REH Word of the Week: moon-mare

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noun

(Moon plus) mare: obsolete. an evil preternatural being causing nightmares; level basalt plain on the surface of the moon, appearing dark by contrast with highland areas

[origin: prior to 12th century; Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German mara incubus, Serbo-Croatian mora nightmare]

HOWARD’S USAGE:

Riding down the road at evening
with the stars for steed and shoon
I have heard an old man singing
underneath a copper moon:

“God, who gemmed with topaz twilights,
opal portals of the day,
“On your amaranthine mountains,
why make human souls of clay?

“For I rode the moon-mare’s horses
in the glory of my youth,
“Wrestled with the hills at sunset—
till I met brass-cinctured Truth.

“Till I saw the temples topple,
till I saw the idols reel,
“Till my brain had turned to iron,
and my heart had turned to steel

[from “Always Comes Evening”; to read the complete poem see Always Comes Evening, p. 73; The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 146; Night Images, p. 67; and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 104]