Since, too often these days, I’m not coming up with blog posts related to my own work, I thought I’d start doing some more posts where I highlight beautiful writing from others. I started here but have been doing most of this on facebook. For my selections so far, I’ve gone with writers like Ray Bradbury, Pearl S. Buck, and Peter Matthiessen, all recognized literary figures who are known for their good writing. But beautiful writing comes from all kinds of places. It comes from places that many literary readers might not suspect.
I’m not a literary reader. I’m just a reader. I read pretty much anything and everything. The following selection is from a writer who has had a big influence on my fiction interests, both reading and writing. It’s Robert E. Howard, a man who died young but who in a short time created several iconic characters, including Conan the Barbarian and Solomon Kane. Howard was a very fine writer. Here’s the opening of one of his “Crusader” stories. The tale is called “Lord of Samarcand.”
“The roar of battle had died away; the sun hung like a ball of crimson gold on the western hills. Across the trampled field of battle no squadrons thundered, no war-cry reverberated. Only the shrieks of the wounded and the moans of the dying rose to the circling vultures whose black wings swept closer and closer until they brushed the pallid faces in their flight.”
To me, beautiful writing isn’t just about describing beautiful scenes and beautiful feelings. Often, in fact, the scenes and feelings can be anything but conventionally beautiful. Beautiful writing is about creating a mood with a flow words that are placed in the right order for maximum effect. It’s about creating an emotional resonance in my psyche. This piece achieves that. Much of Howard’s work does.