The Poetry of Robert E. Howard

By Paul Herman *

Robert E. Howard wrote poetry. He wrote it first in life, last in life, and throughout life. Howard completed around 300 stories for commercial sale and worked on 300 more. But he wrote over 700 poems, virtually none of them meant for commercial markets. His first publication outside of school was his poem “The Sea”, published in a local paper. His famous “All fled, all done…” couplet, borrowed from Viola Garvin, was allegedly the last words he typed. And in between, poetry gushed from him.

“I know his [REH’s] stories will be read and forgotten, but I do know also that if his poems were in book form . . . they would live on and on and not be forgotten. Somebody would be reading them for many years to come.”
― Dr. Isaac Mordecai Howard, father of REH

Howard poured himself into his poetry, undisguised. What amazed him, what drew him, what scared him, what sickened him. He wasn’t worried about what we the eventual readers would think of him as an author. And perhaps this is true of any real poet, the fearlessness of saying what one really wants to say.

This three-volume set, The Collected Poems of Robert E. Howard includes all of Howard’s poetry that has been found, including all the earlier draft versions, where such exist. This is indeed the Ultimate collection of Robert E. Howard’s poetry.

This is the “Ultimate Edition” which just means that it’s printed on demand. Each volume is printed in hardback with a dust jacket.  The cover design and artwork are by Mark Wheatley. The first edition can be seen here.

* Text edited and shortened by webmaster.

Foreword by Paul Herman

With regard to editing the texts, I have chosen first and foremost to go back to what REH actually wrote. Poetry by its very nature involves an author using grammar, layout, and punctuation differently than would be appropriate in a prose work. REH certainly was not shy about being creative in such details. Some may consider such things as lack of proper punctuation unacceptable, but it was REH’s work and his choice. Therefore I have attempted, as much as possible, to restore all the texts to his original words and forms.

Multiple drafts exist of some poems. Sometimes there is little difference between drafts, sometimes significant differences. In the case of multiple drafts, I have included either notes regarding, or the complete text of, the earlier drafts, depending on how different they are.

Typically we do not have a copy of the “final form” of a poem that REH sent off to a magazine, like Weird Tales. Thus, we really have no idea if any differences that show up between the published version and a draft typescript version were created by REH (in a later draft for which no copy is available in the known typescripts) or by the editors. In instances where there are significant differences, we have included both versions.
And finally, on occasion, there is more than one version of a poem, with it not being evident which came before the other. That is, which is the more “final” of the two. In those cases, I have again just picked one and referred to the “alternate” version in either the footnotes or included it, if significantly different. One will also occasionally encounter a “variant” version, a poem that is significantly similar to another, but with a completely different title, and likely meant to be a different poem, one used as raw material for the other.

With regard to the arrangement of the works in this collection, REH had poetry that he thought was good enough and ready to publish. He also had what appeared to be works in progress, and silly things he just did in letters to friends. Because I wanted to let REH set out what he thought was his best, and reserve the silly stuff for those readers that really want to see it, I have decided to sort the works broadly into six sections:

  • Finished and Professional
  • Titled Drafts
  • Untitled Drafts
  • No Known Drafts
  • Youthful Writings
  • Poetry for Friends

It is recognized that some works may fit in multiple sections, and I have made choices as best I think.
Sequentially, starting with the “Titled Drafts” section in Volume One, each section is broken down into six subsections:

  • Introductory Sampling (some of the best in a section)
  • Seeking Adventure and Freedom
  • Fantastical
  • Historical and Observational
  • Humor
  • Naughty
  • Darker Moods

Again, some poems could fit in multiple subsections, and I have made decisions as I think best.
The recently gained access to the entire Glenn Lord Collection of typescripts added several poems, as well as lots of early and alternate drafts. This influx of material (along with the addition of multiple indices) has caused the complete collection to grow larger than is convenient for a single volume.
Accordingly, I have broken Collected Poetry into three volumes, comprising the six categories listed above:

  • Volume One: Finished and Professional; Titled Drafts
  • Volume Two: Untitled Drafts; No Known Drafts; Youthful Writings
  • Volume Three: Poetry for Friends

In selecting which section to place poems, the first general rule is, any poetry in letters goes into Poetry for Friends, and all works either handwritten or typed on REH’s first typewriter, go into Youthful Writings. After those were sorted, then the remaining poetry was sorted as needed into Finished and Professional, Titled Drafts, Untitled Drafts, and No Known Draft.

If there is more than one draft, all drafts of a poem are presented together one after the other. In each instance I have either included all the drafts together, or at least added notes on earlier drafts, if the differences are few. I have used the most “final” version to help decide into which section of the collection the bundle of drafts will appear. So for instance, if for a particular poem there is a final draft, an earlier titled draft, and an untitled draft, all three will appear together in Finished and Professional. If the best version is merely titled but not in final form, then the Titled Drafts section gets the set. If only untitled drafts are known, then they will appear in the Untitled Drafts section. And finally, for those without drafts, they are placed in the No Known Draft Section. Published versions which are significantly different from any draft have generally been included after the known drafts.

Also included at the back of each volume is a full alphabetical list of all poems with volume and page number, alternate title list, first line index, and sources used for texts and titles.

Finally, with regard to titles, it is unfortunate that the typescripts we have access to include only about 300 titles for the 700+ poems. Some might prefer to have all these poems with no provable title to just be called “Untitled”, or just use the first line, but that tends to make it difficult to discuss the poems with others, or to reference. A short simple title for each is desirable, and that appears to be the thought of virtually all previous editors who published the vast majority of these poems. And it may be that in some instances, the first published title actually was a title REH meant for that work, who knows.

In general, I have used the title provided by REH in a typescript, if one is available. Those are easy. If a work was published during REH’s lifetime, or just after, I’ll presume the title came from REH, and use that title (though of course there is no real proof that that is true). Everything else, and there is a lot of everything else, is really a question. For most of this remaining verse, I have simply used whatever title the work was published with previously, for simplicity and continuity, recognizing the high likelihood that there is not, and never was, a titled draft, and that the title was attached by whomever. Much of the more recently discovered poetry that is untitled is here titled with the first line, or a portion of the first line. In a very few instances, I have found the previous title (or lack thereof) a real problem, and have added a title of my own creation. I have tried to keep these to a minimum. The source list at the end of this volume will include both the source of the text used, as well as the source of the title, if known, for those interested in such details.

It is hoped that all this minutiae and detail does not detract from the entire point of this three volume set: to provide all of REH’s poetic works, those brilliant and those not quite so, for the reader’s enjoyment and thoughtful perusement.

Volume Two - Contents

  • ix • Introduction: The History and Mystery of the Publishing of the Poetry of Robert E. Howard, by Paul Herman
  • xix • Foreword by Paul Herman
  • xxiii • Acknowledgements

Section three: Untitled Drafts

Introductory Sampling

7 The Return of Sir Richard Grenville
9 Miser’s Gold
10 The Sand-Hills’ Crest
12 The One Black Stain
14 The One Black Stain (the second draft)
16 The One Black Stain (the first draft)
19 Drowned
19 Drowned (an alternate version)
20 Little Brown Man of Nippon
22 A Song of the Race
25 The Ballad of Buckshot Roberts
27 In the Ring
29 Destiny (1)

Seeking Adventure and Freedom

33 The Call of the Sea
34 The Call of Adventure (incomplete)
35 A Dying Pirate Speaks of Treasure
37 The Winds That Walk the World
39 Revolt Pagan
40 Old Memories of Adventure
41 I’m More Than a Man
42 Freedom


45 The Symbol
46 The Ghost Ocean
47 Dance Macabre
48 Shadows from Yesterday
49 Cornish Jack
51 Mad Meg Gill
53 Ju-Ju Doom
54 All Hallows Eve
55 All Hallows Eve (an earlier draft)
56 The Phantoms Gather
57 Mystic Lore
58 Counterspells
59 Prince and Beggar
60 Shadow Thing
61 The Worshippers
62 When the Gods Were Kings
63 The Master-Drum
64 Death’s Black Riders (story heading)
65 The Bell of Morni
66 The Shadow of the Beast (story heading)
67 As I Rode Down to Lincoln Town
68 Egypt
69 Baal
71 Seven Kings
71 Seven Kings (an earlier draft)
72 The Drums of Pictdom
73 Abhorrent Gods

Historical and Observational

77 A Song of the Naked Lands
80 A Song of the Naked Lands (the first page of an earlier draft)
82 The Feud
83 Memories of Alfred
84 A Legend of Faring Town
85 The Road to Bliss
87 Alien
88 The Song of Horsa’s Galley
89 No Man’s Land
90 To Harry the Oliad Men
91 A Rhyme of Salem Town
93 Where are Your Knights, Donn Othna?
94 The Zulu Lord
95 Rattle of Drums
97 Lost Nisapur
98 Babylon
98 Babylon (an alternate version)
99 The Baron and the Wench
100 Silence Falls on Mecca’s Walls
101 Down the Ages
102 The Affair at the Tavern
105 The Chief of the Matabeles
108 No More the Serpent Prow
109 When the Glaciers Rumbled South
110 The Guise of Youth
111 The Cells of the Coliseum
112 Days of Glory
113 When Death Drops Her Veil
114 A Thousand Years Ago
115 The Drum
116 Roar, Silver Trumpets
117 The Winds of the Sea
118 The Night Winds
119 The Broken Walls of Babel
120 The Ballad of King Geraint
145 The Ages Stride on Golden Feet
146 The King of the Ages Comes
147 The Gods I Worshipped
148 Nocturne
149 Devon Oak
150 A Calling to Rome
151 Sea-Chant
152 De Ole River Ox
153 The Wind Blows
153 The Wind Blows (an alternate version)
154 Trail’s End
155 A Song of Bards
156 The Oaks
157 The Land of Mystery (story heading)
158 The Majestic Mary L.
159 Exhortation
160 Universe
161 Passing of the Elder Gods
162 The Desert
163 The Masque
164 Mahomet
165 The Actor
166 The King of Trade
167 For What Is a Maid to the Shout of Kings?
168 Fill Up My Goblet
169 Brazen Thewed Giant


173 Another Hymn of Hate
175 Code
176 A Pledge
177 The Phases of Life


181 Prelude
182 Desire
183 Good Mistress Brown
184 The Harlot
185 Perspective

Darker Moods

189 Mine But to Serve
192 Never Beyond the Beast
193 The House of Gael
194 The Champ
195 Invective
196 Only a Shadow on the Grass
197 Little Bell of Brass
198 Harvest
199 The Ladder of Life
200 The Primal Urge
201 An Outworn Story
203 On with the Play
205 Time, the Victor

Section Four: No Known Drafts

Introductory Sampling

211 Solomon Kane’s Homecoming
214 Solomon Kane’s Homecoming (an untitled alternate version)
217 Black Harps in the Hills
219 Black Harps in the Hills (an untitled, shorter version in a letter)
220 The Ghost Kings
221 Two Men
223 The Tale the Dead Slaver Told
224 The Tale the Dead Slaver Told (an alternate version)
225 Not Only in Death They Die

Seeking Adventure and Freedom

229 Viking’s Vision
231 Earth-Born
232 The Outgoing of Sigurd the Jerusalem-Farer
233 To a Friend
234 Drake Sings of Yesterday
236 Untamed Avatars


239 The Song of the Gallows Tree
240 A Dull Sound as of Knocking
241 The Dweller in Dark Valley
242 Zukala’s Love Song
245 The Grey God Passes (chapter headings)
246 A Song of the Werewolf Folk
248 But the Hills Were Ancient Then
249 The Palace of Bast
250 The Doom Chant of Than-Kul
251 Baal-Pteor
252 Futility (1)
253 Astarte’s Idol Stands Alone
254 Memories (1)
255 Fragment
256 Summer Morn
257 The Cats of Anubis

Historical and Observational

261 The Song of the Last Briton
262 Who Shall Sing of Babylon?
264 Victory
266 A Dawn in Flanders
267 The Cry Everlasting
268 The Legacy of Tubal-Cain
269 A Song of the Don Cossacks
270 A Song of the Legions
272 Lunacy Chant
273 These Things are Gods
274 The Road to Rome
276 Cossack Dreams
277 War to the Blind
278 The Day Breaks over Simla
279 Custom
280 The Gates of Babylon
281 Dreams
282 Dreams of Nineveh
283 Drum Gods
284 The Gods of Easter Island
285 Sonora to Del Rio
286 The Sands of the Desert
287 Ships
288 Murky the Night
289 Artifice


293 The Weakling
294 Madam Goose’s Rhymes


299 The Myth
300 Ecstasy
302 A Roman Lady
304 Strange Passion

Darker Moods

309 Which Will Scarcely Be Understood
311 Lines Written in the Realization That I Must Die
312 Hope Empty of Meaning
313 A Sonnet of Good Cheer
314 The Wheel of Destiny
315 The Dust Dance (1)
318 The Dust Dance (2)
321 The Road to Freedom
322 To Moderns
324 Echoes from an Anvil
326 The Lies
237 Longfellow Revised
328 To Certain Orthodox Brethren
329 Man Am I
330 Empire
332 To a Kind Missionary Woiker
333 Let the Gods Die
334 As You Dance Upon the Air
335 The Rulers
337 Native Hell
338 Escape
339 Man the Master
340 The Songs of Defeat

Section Five: Youthful Writings

Introductory Sampling

345 Fables for Little Folks
346 Farewell, Proud Munster

Seeking Adventure and Freedom

349 Illusion
350 The Sea
352 The Sword of Lal Singh
353 The Outcast
354 A High Land
355 The Pirate (1)
356 The Sword of Yar Ali Khan
357 The Trail of Gold
358 Senor Zorro
360 The Song of Yar Ali Khan
361 When Men Were Bold


365 Far in the Gloomy Northland
366 Am-ra the Ta-an
369 A Misty Sea
370 Modest Bill

Historical and Observational

377 The Bandit
378 The Rover
379 Over the Old Rio Grandey
380 Roundelay of the Roughneck
382 Private Magrath of the A.E.F.
384 Tarentella
386 Was I There?
387 Land of the Pioneer
388 The Plains of Gilban
389 Whence Cometh Erlik?
390 Zulu-Land
391 The Tartar Raid
392 The Stralsund
393 O the Brave Sea-Rover
394 Krakorum
395 Eric of Norway


403 The Kissing of Sal Snooboo
404 The Maiden of Kercheezer
405 My Sentiments, Set to Jazz
407 Parody on Description of June in “Sir Launfal”
408 Rules of Etiquette
410 When I Was in Africa
411 Edgar Guest
412 Bill Boozy Was a Pirate Bold
413 When Napoleon Down in Africa

Darker moods

417 Futility (2)
418 Mankind
420 Now and Then


337 Primary Poetry Index
357 Alternate Title Index
363 First Line Index
Publisher: REH Foundation Press
Year : November 2022
Book No. :  
Edition : 2nd edition, version 1
Format : Hardcover with dust jacket  (6 x 9 inches)
Trade paperback (6 x 9 inches)
Pages :  
Cover : Mark Wheatley
Illustrations : None
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  • Edited by Paul Herman
  • Print on demand “Ultimate Edition”

The other volumes

The first edition



The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard Volume Two

Robert E. Howard wrote poetry. He wrote it first in life, last in life, and throughout life. Howard completed around 300 stories for commercial sale and worked on 300 more. But he wrote over 700 poems, virtually none of them meant for commercial markets. His first publication outside of school was his poem “The Sea”, published in a local paper. His famous “All fled, all done…” couplet, borrowed from Viola Garvin, was allegedly the last words he typed. And in between, poetry gushed from him.

This second volume of a three-volume set collects the rest of all of Howard’s known poetry.

Tags: Mark Wheatley / Paul Herman / Poems / Robert E. Howard