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First published in Fanciful Tales of Time and Space, Fall 1936

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2018
Version Date: 2018-03-23
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Fanciful Tales of Time and Space, Fall 1936


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.