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

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

Seeking Adventure and Freedom

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


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

Historical and Observational

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


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


183Good Mistress Brown
184The Harlot

Darker Moods

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

Section Four: No Known Drafts

Introductory Sampling

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

Seeking Adventure and Freedom

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


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

Historical and Observational

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


293The Weakling
294Madam Goose’s Rhymes


299The Myth
302A Roman Lady
304Strange Passion

Darker Moods

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

Section Five: Youthful Writings

Introductory Sampling

345Fables for Little Folks
346Farewell, Proud Munster

Seeking Adventure and Freedom

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


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

Historical and Observational

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


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

Darker moods

417Futility (2)
420Now and Then


337Primary Poetry Index
357Alternate Title Index
363First 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