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Wednesday, Nov 28, 2018 - 00:09 SGT
Posted By: Gilbert

It's Never So Bad After All

...with recourse to fantasy.

The road was long and the road was hard,
And the sky was cold and grey:
The dead white moon was a frozen shard
In the dim dawn of day:
But thief and harlot, king and guard
Warrior, wizard, knave and bard
Rode with me all the way.

The wind was sharp as a whetted knife
As it blew from the wet salt seas;
The storm wind stirred to a ghostly life
The gaunt black skeletal trees:
But I drank the foaming wine of life
Wine of plunder and lust and strife
Down to the bitter lees.

A boy, from the savage north I came
To cities of silk and sin.
With torch and steel, in blood and flame,
I won what a man may win:
Aye, gambled and won at the Devil's game
Splendor and glory and glittering flame
And mocked at Death's skull-grin.

And there were foemen to fight and slay
And friends to love and trust:
And crowns to conquer and toss away
And lips to taste with lust:
And songs to keep black nights at bay
And wine to swill to the break of day
What matter the end be dust?

I've won my share of your gems and gold
They crumble into clods:
I've gorged on the best that life can hold:
And the Devil take the odds:
The grave is deep and the night is cold
The world's a skull-full of stinking mould
And I laugh at your little gods!

The lean road slunk through a blasted land
Where the earth was parched and black.
But we were a merry, jesting band
Who asked no easier track:
Rogue and reaver and firebrand
And life rode laughing at my right hand
And Death rode at my back.

The road was dusty and harsh and long
Crom, but a man gets dry!
I'm old and weary and Death is strong
But flesh was born to die:
Hai, Gods! But it was a merry throng
Rode at my side with jest and song
Under an empty sky.

I've heard fat, cunning priestlings tell
How damned souls writhe and moan:
That paradise they can buy and sell
For gold and gold alone:
To the flames with scripture and priest as well
I'll stride down the scarlet throat of hell
And dice for the Devil's throne!

I faced life boldly and unafraid
Should I flinch as Death draws near?
Life's but a game Death and I have played
Many a wearisome year:
Hai! to the gallant friends I made
Slave and swordsman and lissome maid
I begrudge no foot of the road I strayed
The road which endeth HERE!

- The Death Song of Conan the Cimmerian
Lin Carter

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