Monday, January 2, 2012


by Robert E. Howard

It was gloomy land that seemed to hold
All winds and clouds and dreams that shun the sun,
With bare boughs rattling in the lonesome winds,
And the dark woodlands brooding over all,
Not even lightened by the rare dim sun
Which made squat shadows out of men; they called it
Cimmeria, land of Darkness and deep Night.
It was so long ago and far away
I have forgotten the very name men called me.
The axe and flint-tipped spear are like a dream,
And hunts and wars are like shadows. I recall
Only the stillness of that sombre land;
The clouds that piled forever on the hills,
The dimness of the everlasting woods.
Cimmeria, land of Darkness and the Night.

The 1932 poem "Cimmeria" was discovered by Glenn Lord and first published in The Howard Collector #7 in 1965.

Later Barry Windsor-Smith got hold of it and developed an interesting version of his own. It first appeared in Savage Tales #2 in 1973.

That Smith original was apparently in a somewhat incomplete condition and later Roy Thomas and Tim Conrad developed another version using much of Smith's original material. Here are Conrad's version and a more complete and more lush Smith version compared page by page.

You can see that the endings in particular are different.

This piece has been reprinted in some form many times.

I offer this up in memory of the late Glenn Lord.

Rip Off


  1. Man, we're all talking Conan these days!

    Thanks for posting this -- Smith's art is simply wonderful. By the way, after Karen and I reviewed The Tower of the Elephant last week, I checked out Buscema's version in Savage Sword. It bears a look, if nothing else than for comparative purposes. Beautiful in its own right.

    Happy New Year!


  2. I found it in my Savage Sword volumes from Dark Horse. It is solid as all of Buscema's stuff is, but I find the Smith version more lyrical.

    Rip Off

  3. Wow! I knew the original Smith version in Savage Tales quite well but did not know Thomas had it redone with Tim Conrad. Like you, I prefer Smith's version. I found it be to be quite striking and the impression has lasted over 40 years later.

  4. Great post, Rip. I love both versions of this story, though the original Smith pencils hold more appeal for me, personally. This was Smith at the height of his powers.

    While I am certainly a fan of the Smith version of "Tower of the Elephant", it was done fairly early in his career, and his style was still in awkward transition from Kirby Clone to Deco Stylist.

    Because of this, I much prefer the Buscema version from Savage Sword, which had wonderful dramatic layouts by Big John, exceptional inks by Alfredo Alcala, and more pages to better play out the drama.

    Unfortunately, though I like Cary Nord's interpretation of Conan, I think it's the weakest version.

    It's all subjective, of course, but that's my take on things.


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