Tarantella

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Tarantella  (1926) 
by Robert Ervin Howard
First published in The Daniel Baker Collegian, May 25, 1926.

Heads! Heads! Heads!
Bounce on the cobble stones.
Glitter of scarlets and flame of reds
Crimson the road that Freedom treads,
We’re rearing a fane of bones.
And bare feet
Weave their beat
Down the red reeking street.
Hell holds sway.
Slay! Slay!
Hate goes bellowing through the land,
Crimson-hued is my gleaming brand.
Kill! Kill! And my lips a-thrill
With hot kisses snatched in the frenzied whirl—
Raped from the lips of a noble girl.
And her brother’s blood on my hand.
Rage, lust, passion-hot.
Prance, dance, you sans culotte.
This is your hour, the height of your power,
Culture, decency forgot.
 Blood! Blood! The red gleams preen
On yon fair maid the guillotine!
Vive, vive la guillotine!
Hate and slaughter, that is all;
Blood to shed and heads to fall.
Love is lust and good is lies,
Satan rides the eery skies.
Dance and sway
Whirl away
Meet and kiss, it is bliss
But to slay!
All the world’s a gore-rimmed sea, lo, the devil laughs with glee.
Come and dance then, you with me, come and caper wild and free.
With red blood those fires are lit,
Hades’ smoke is tinged with it.
And the very skies that soar
Are encrimsoned as with gore—
Yon was once a baron’s head,
Now it decks a pike instead.
I salute ye, with my sword.
Here’s to you, m’sieu le lord.
Much you had of wondrous wine,
Ermine coats and horses fine,
Luscious lips of dainty girls,
Snowy bosoms, gold and pearls,
None so haughty as your sneer—
Now you ride a common’s spear.
Here’s to you! In hell you burn.
I am on the upward turn
Of the slow revolving Wheel
With my reign of blood and steel.
O’er my prostrate head ye strode;
On my shoulder bent ye rode.
You the whip-man, I the clown
Till I rose to tread you down.
They will rise to trample me—
For the moment I am free.
Through the ribs the winds may drone
Now the world is all mine own.
Mine to lust, to rage, to dance!
Vive la Freedom! Vive la France!

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was legally published within the United States (or the United Nations Headquarters in New York subject to Section 7 of the United States Headquarters Agreement) before 1964, and copyright was not renewed.
For Class A renewals records (books only) published between 1923 and 1963, check the Stanford Copyright Renewal Database and the Rutgers copyright renewal records.
For other renewal records of publications between 1922 - 1950 see the Pennsylvania copyright records scans.
For all records since 1978, search the U.S. Copyright Office records.

The author died in 1936, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 75 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.


Works published in 1926 would have had to renew their copyright in either 1953 or 1954, i.e. at least 27 years after it was first published / registered but not later than 31 December(31 December) in the 28th year. As it was not renewed, it entered the public domain on 1 January 1955(1 January 1955).