by Robert E. Howard
Serpent prow on the Afric coast
Doom on the Moorish town;
And this is the song the steersman sang
As the dragonship swept down:
I followed Asgrimm Snorri's son
Around the world and halfway back
And 'scaped the hate of Galdjerhrun
Who sank our ship off Skagerack.
I lent my sword to Hrothgar then;
His eyes were ice, his heart was hard
He fell with half his weapon-men
To our own kin at Mikligard.
And then for many a weary moon
I labored at the galley's oar
Where men grow maddened by the rune
Of row-locks clacking evermore.
But I survived the reeking rack,
The toil, the whips that burned and gashed;
The spiteful Greeks that scarred my back
And trembled even while they lashed.
They sold me on an Eastern block;
In silver coins their price was paid;
They girt me with a chain and lock;
I laughed and they were sore afraid.
I toiled amongst the olive trees
Until a night of hot desire
Blew me a breath of outer seas
And filled my veins with curious fire.
Then I arose and broke my chain
And laughed to know that I was free,
And battered out my master's brain
And fled and gained the open sea.
Beneath a copper sun adrift,
I shunned the proa and the dhow,
Until I saw a sail uplift,
And saw and knew the dragon prow
Oh, East of sands and sunlit gulf,
Your blood is thin; Your gods are few;
You could not break the Northern Wolf
And now the wolf has turned on you.
The fires that light the Spanish coast
Fling shadows on the Eastern strand
Masters, your slave has come again
With torch and axe in his red hand!