REH Word of the Week: avaunt Essay

photo of Upton Sinclair


1. archaic. go away, hence, move on

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[origin: 15th century; Middle English, literally, forward, from Anglo-French avant, from Latin abante forward, before, from ab from + ante before]

Now come the days of high endeavor and
The blare of brazen trumpets through the land.
Now George Sylvester Viereck from his den
Roars forth and Untermeyer rides again.
Across the mountains comes the blast of Hecht
And all the critics get it in the neckt.
Sir Upty heard them going from the knoll
And shook within his boots despite “King Coal.”
A bat came whirling in the silent air,
And all the mountain peaks echoed, “Sinclair!”
“Aha!” he muttered as the sounds sighed past,
“The syndicated press awakes at last!”
But even as he spoke a rattlesnake
Came flying with its rattles all a-shake.
“Stand, scaly varlet, wherefore dost thou flee?
“Nor halt to make obeisance to ME?”
“Go sit upon a tack,” the snake replied,
“There follows close with long and lengthy stride,
“One who would make me listen, if he could,
“To words defined according to his mood.”
The scornful snake went tooling down the plains
And Upty’s blood congealed within his veins.
For in the moonlight bulked a mighty form
That beckoned with a silent tree-like arm.
Avaunt, foul ghost!” Upty in panic said,
And hurled “The Goose Step” at the phantom’s head.
“Heh heh!” the spook responded with a roar
That woke up G.B. Shaw on Erin’s shore.

[from “A Fable For Critics”; to read the complete poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 589; Shadows of Dreams, p. 80; and Robert E. Howard Selected Poems, p. 117]


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