Poetry Corner

I may have, in times not long past, posted this poem in this space. If so, the time has come again:

SOLOMON KANE’S HOMECOMING

The white gulls wheeled above the cliffs,
the air was slashed with foam,
The long tides moaned along the strand
when Solomon Kane came home.
He walked in silence strange and dazed
through the little Devon town,
His gaze, like a ghost’s come back to life,
roamed up the streets and down.

The people followed wonderingly
to mark his spectral stare,
And in the tavern silently
they thronged about him there.
He heard as a man hears in a dream
the worn old rafters creak,
And Solomon lifted his drinking-jack
and spoke as a ghost might speak:

“There sat Sir Richard Grenville once;
in smoke and flame he passed,
“And we were one to fifty-three,
but we gave them blast for blast.
“From crimson dawn to crimson dawn,
we held the Dons at bay.
“The dead lay littered on our decks,
our masts were shot away.

“We beat them back with broken blades,
till crimson ran the tide;
“Death thundered in the cannon smoke
when Richard Grenville died.
“We should have blown her hull apart
and sunk beneath the Main.”
The people saw upon his wrists
the scars of the racks of Spain.

“Where is Bess?” said Solomon Kane.
“Woe that I caused her tears.”
“In the quiet churchyard by the sea
she has slept these seven years.”
The sea-wind moaned at the window-pane,
and Solomon bowed his head.
“Ashes to ashes and dust to dust,
and the fairest fade,” he said.

His eyes were mystical deep pools
that drowned unearthly things,
And Solomon lifted up his head
and spoke of his wanderings.
“Mine eyes have looked on sorcery
in the dark and naked lands,
“Horror born of the jungle gloom
and death on the pathless sands.

“And I have known a deathless queen
in a city old as Death,
“Where towering pyramids of skulls
her glory witnesseth.
“Her kiss was like an adder’s fang,
with the sweetness Lilith had,
“And her red-eyed vassals howled for blood
in that City of the Mad.

“And I have slain a vampire shape
that sucked a black king white,
“And I have roamed through grisly hills
where dead men walked at night.
“And I have seen heads fall like fruit
in the slaver’s barracoon,
“And I have seen winged demons fly
all naked in the moon.

“My feet are weary of wandering
and age comes on apace;
“I fain would dwell in Devon now,
forever in my place.”
The howling of the ocean pack
came whistling down the gale,
And Solomon Kane threw up his head
like a hound that snuffs a trail.

A-down the wind like a running pack
the hounds of the ocean bayed,
And Solomon Kane rose up again
and girt his Spanish blade.
In his strange cold eyes a vagrant gleam
grew wayward and blind and bright,
And Solomon put the people by
and went into the night.

A wild moon rode the wild white clouds,
the waves in white crests flowed,
When Solomon Kane went forth again
and no man knew his road.
They glimpsed him etched against the moon,
where clouds on hilltop thinned;
They heard an eery echoed call
that whistled down the wind.

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