Wednesday, December 21, 2011

There Were Three Lads Who Went Their Destined Ways - Robert E. Howard

There were three lads who went their destined ways
Bewildered by this thing that men call Life
Toiled through the week and idled leisure days.
And cursed the world but knew the world was rife
With thing of beauty. Even they could see.
They reveled in old tales of ages hoary
And plagued by souls vague reaching out for glory,
But knew dim, uncertain longing to be free.

They saw, they felt but could not put in words
The things of beauty that oft met their eyes,
Waving of blossoms and the flight of birds,
The tints of sun-set fading from the skies.
They dimly glimpsed the sky-kissed mountain crest
And felt chargrin of failure, dim unrest.

Blasphemous, showing their deep joy at verses,
Praising an artist with deep, sulphurous curses.
When their souls thrilled they knew but naught to swear
Admiring cursed at lakes by breezes kissed,
"Say, look at that damned elm waving there."
And vaunt its praise with oaths that fairly hissed.
They named, if chose, a demi-god a lout
Sneered at the thought that man-kind was their brother
Yet they could see a pretty girl without
Licking their lips and elbowing each other.
And they could see young saplings in the shade
And think of dancing girls. Could see
The sapling's litheness in a tender maid.
Could revel in the winds that whisper free.

"Say, boy, you see that moon just coming up,
Throwing its banners like long, silver teeth,
Say, I can think that it's some sea-king's golden cup—
Look there, white clouds above and purple hills beneath.
You know old pard, I guess that I'm a fool.
But I have got a lot of thoughts in me—
But what's the use? There never was a school
Could teach a fellow to write poetry.
And yet it's in my soul. I'd like to tell
The things I feel and see and sometimes think
Yet I can't catch and put them into ink—
My thoughts are great—my speech so barren. Hell!"

And in impotent anger, kick the sand
And gesture vaguely with a toil-worn hand.

And sometimes they would put on leather gloves
And therewith deal each other manful blows,
Pausing perchance to shake a bleeding nose,
Admire a leafy bough or budding rose,
Through loosened teeth quote poets songs of loves.
They took delights in rough and savage games,
Strong drink, and called each other scorching names.
Yet they would turn aside to small a flower. Oftentimes
Would sit them down and seek to make some rhymes.

Then feeling their dim soul-glories wane, morosely go
To see a prize-fight or a picture show.

3 out of 5