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‘Flower of Night’
Scarlet and Gold are the Stars Tonight by Robert E. Howard
© 2019 James LaFond
Reading from page 97 of A Word from the Outer Dark
Gulfs, alienation, longing…
Scarlet and Gold are the Stars Tonight constitutes two versus of four lines each, seeming such a brief entry it is hardly worth examining, until one considers that Howard’s heroic-horrific crossroad of the tale-weaving mind. The title also constitutes the first line of the brief poem. In these “unheeded” ours, the author sets forth the possibility of myopic depression alongside the ideal of heroic procession.
The silvery river is running beneath the bridge of scarlet and gold [heroism and reward?] perhaps represents the grudging approval of Eternity reflected beneath Heaven.
He seems to address Fate, as her pallid face looms beautifully in the night, night being the hour of peril and triumph and downfall that permits the heroic lifespan, which is possibly only a moment in a drear life of toil and complaisance. Again, the possibility of Time’s intercession, embodied by a stark wan dawn in contrast to Homer’s rose-fingered maid of Heaven and Earth, whispers of the brief mortality of mans’ actionary life, as well as the dualistic possibility that the coming day [which this reader takes as the intercession of domestic social periods] will lighten the mood and/or sensitize the inner vision of some, and beckon them outward and inward.
This reader likes to suppose that this brief work was at once an attempt by the author to concoct a word tonic for his terrible depression and alienation and also sketch a myopic vision of the hero’s journey in and out of the field of Time. It is impossible for this reader to set aside the sense that Scarlet and Gold are the Stars Tonight might simply by a call by a suffering soul echoing within for a reprieve.
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