The Singer in the Mist

November 3, 2017

At birth a witch laid on me monstrous spells,
And I have trod strange highroads all my days,
Turning my feet to gray, unholy ways.
I grope for stems of broken asphodels;
High on the rims of bare, fiend-haunted fells,
I follow cloven tracks that lie ablaze;
And ghosts have led me through the moonlight’s haze
To talk with demons in the granite hells.

Seas crash upon dragon-guarded shores,
Bursting in crimson moons of burning spray,
And iron castles ope to me their doors,
And serpent-women lure with harp and lay.
The misty waves shake now to phantom oars –
Seek not for me; I sail to meet the day.

Robert E Howard

a superfluity of ghosts

November 3, 2017

A ghost in darkness Vietnam

I remember thinking (facetiously) that with all the dying done in Southeast Asia there must be a superfluity of ghosts in that region. I’d been over there a couple of times and knew that belief in ghosts was a given among the general populace, and I thought that there might be an Asian man of science who, motivated by this belief, would have sought to investigate the phenomena. And then, of course, I came up with the idea of an American ghost, a soldier in the Vietnamese war, as the subject of his investigation…

Lucius Shepard
Interview with The Weird

Conan2

I’m rather of the opinion myself that widespread myths and legends are based on some fact, though the fact may be distorted out of all recognition in the telling. While I don’t go so far as to believe that stories are inspired by actually existent spirits or powers (though I am rather opposed to flatly denying anything) I have sometimes wondered if it were possible that unrecognized forces of the past or present or even the future work through the thoughts and actions of living men. This occurred to me when I was writing the first stories of the Conan series especially. I know that for months I had been absolutely barren of ideas, completely unable to work up anything sellable. Then the man Conan seemed suddenly to grow up in my mind without much labour on my part and immediately a stream of stories flowed off my pen or rather, off my typewriter almost without effort on my part. I did not seem to be creating, but rather relating events that had occurred. Episode crowded on episode so fast that I could scarcely keep up with them. For weeks I did nothing but write of the adventures of Conan. The character took complete possession of my mind and crowded out everything else in the way of story writing. When I deliberately tried to write something else, I couldn’t do it. I do not attempt to explain this by esoteric or occult means, but the facts remain. I still write of Conan more powerfully and with more understanding than any of my other characters. But the time will probably come when I will suddenly find myself unable to write convincingly of him at all. That has happened in the past with nearly all my rather numerous characters; suddenly I would find myself out of contact with the conception, as if the man himself had been standing at my shoulder directing my efforts, and had suddenly turned and gone away, leaving me to search for another character.

Robert E Howard
Letter to Clark Ashton Smith, December 14th, 1933