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 Three - Contents

  • xi • Introduction: Salaam, by Paul Herman
  • xiii • Foreword by Paul Herman
  • xvii • Acknowledgements

Section Six: Poetry for Friends

Introductory Sampling

6Altars and Jesters
10Altars and Jesters (a portion of an earlier draft)
11A Warning to Orthodoxy
13The Adventurer’s Mistress (2)
17Shadows of Dreams

Seeking Adventure and Freedom

25The Last Two to Die
28“Feach Air Muir Lionadhi Gealach Buidhe Mar Or”
29Adventure (1)
31The Far Lands Call
33This Is a Young World
34A Haunting Cadence
38One Blood Strain
39Romance (2)
40L’Envoi (3)
41Let Me Dream By a Silver Stream


46The Mysteries
47The Call of Pan
48The Haunted Tower
50Whispers on the Nightwinds
51High Blue Halls
52Black Seas
53A Challenge to Bast
54The Chant Demoniac
56The Dreams of Men
57A Far Country
58At the Bazaar
59The Gods Remember
60Ivory in the Night
61Keresa, Keresita
62The Last Words He Heard
63The Madness of Cormac
66The Morning After

Historical and Observational

69There Were Three Lads
71Long Ago
72Song Before Clontarf
73The Gladiator and the Lady
74The Return of the Sea-Farer
76The Viking of the Sky
78The Lost San Saba Mine
80A Song of the Anchor Chain
82Arcadian Days
85All the Crowd
86San Jacinto (1)
87Shadows (3)
89The Sword of Mahommed
90The Alamo
91“Aw Come On and Fight!”
92A Stirring of Green Leaves
93The Spirit of War
94Musings (2)
95Abe Lincoln
98The Baron of Fenland
99Slugger’s Vow
100The Mongols Come
103Sighs in the Yellow Leaves
109Dark Are Your Eyes
110The Deed Beyond the Deed
111The Mountains of California
112Destiny (3)
115The Duckers of Crosses
116The Path of the Strange Wanderers
119The Follower
121Forebodings of a Bloody Revolution
122Out of Asia
123From the Primal
124The Grim Land
125Hard Choices
126The Harem
127To Lyle Saxon
128When Wolf Meets Wolf
129When You Were a Set-Up and I Was a Ham
131Hills of the North!
132Yen’s Opium Joint
133Toast to the British!
134A Hundred Years the Great War Raged
135Jack Dempsey
136Twilight on Stonehenge
138John L. Sullivan
140The King and the Mallet
141Two Worlds
143Kublai Khan
146Songs of Harlem


151An American Epic
152A Song of Greenwich
153An American
154A Ballad to Beer
155And Dempsey Climbed Into the Ring
156A Weird Ballad
157The Bombing of Gon Fanfew
159A Better Hand to Hold
160The Chinese Gong
161The Tom Thumb Moider Mystery (story heading)
162A Chinese Washer, Ching-Ling
163Young Lockanbars
164The Wicked Old Elf
165Come You Back to Rachel Shea
166The Coy Maid
167Take Some Honey from a Cat
168Dancing at Goldstein’s
169Old Faro Bill
170Romona! Romona!
172A Fable for Critics
176The Grog-Shop Wall
177Hatrack! (verse contained throughout the story)
178The Helmsman
179An Isle Far Away
180King Bahthur’s Court
183Limericks to Spank By
184Love is Singing Soft and Low
185The Mottoes of the Boy Scouts
168Neolithic Love Song


191A Young Wife’s Tale
192Ancient English Balladel
194At the Inn of the Gory Dagger
196Adam’s Loins Were Mountains
198The Ballad of Monk Kickawhore
201Daughter of Evil
205Lonely Night
206A Sappe Ther Wos
207Nancy Hawk – A Legend of Virginity
213To a Roman Woman
214To Certain Cultured Women

Darker Moods

219I Do Not Sing of a Paradise
220A Man
222The Ancient People (contained in “People of the Winged Skulls”)
224Mingle My Dust
225The Dancer
226Adam’s Iron Harp
227After the Trumps are Sounded
229Authorial Version of Duna
230Back to the Primitive
231Bad Choices
232The Ballad of Abe Slickemmore
235A Ballad of Insanity
237The Choir Girl
238The Cuckoo’s Revenge
239Dark Desires
241Dreaming in Israel
243Drummings on an Empty Skull
244The Ecstasy of Desolation
245Fighting the Anaconda Kid
248A Great Man Speaks
249The Grey Lover
250A Hairy Chested Idealist Sings
252Hopes of Dreams
253How to Select a Successful Evangelist
254I Hate the Man Who Tells Me That I Lied
255I Hold All Women
256I Praise My Nativity
257John Brown
258John Kelley
259L’Envoi (1)
260L’Envoi (2)
262Let Me Live as I Was Born to Live
263Life (1)
264Life is a Cynical, Romantic Pig
265Lines to G. B. Shaw
266Lizzen My Children
268Mexican Vacation
270Mealtime Invitation (contained in “People of the Winged Skulls”)
271A Mick in Israel
272Memories (2)
274Mother Eve
275My Animal Instincts
276My Children
277Nights to Both of Us Known
278The Odyssey of Israel
280Oh, We Are Little Children
281Praises of a Lunatic
282A Poet’s Skull
285The Road to Babel
289The Robes of the Righteous
290Romany Road
291Samson’s Broodings
292The Sands of Time
293Singing in the Wind
295The Slayer
296A Song for Men That Laugh
297A Song from an Ebony Heart
299Song of a Fugitive Bard
300A Song of Cheer
301A Song of College
302A Song of Praise
303The Song of the Sage
304The Spiders of Weariness
305Stein the Peddler
306Surrender (2)
307Swings and Swings
309Tell Me Not in Coocoo Numbers
310That Women May Sing of Us
311Through the Mists of Silence
312To a Nameless Woman
313To an Earth-Bound Soul
314To the Contented
315To the Evangelists
316A Tribute to the Sportsmanship of the Fans
317A Toast (contained in “People of the Winged Skulls”)
318What Is Love?
319What’s Become of Waring
320Who is Grandpa Theobold?
321A Woman Born to Rule
323Yodels of Good Sneer to the Pipple, Damn Them
324Rebel Souls from the Falling Dark
325Songs of Bastards


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 Three

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 third 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