REH Word of the Week: rath Essay


1. a kind of ancient fortification found in Ireland; a circular fort protected by earthworks, used by the ancient Irish in the pre-Christian era as a retreat in time of danger. Some of the larger raths such as that at Tara were important in early Irish history and were used by chieftains or kings. Many raths still exist throughout Ireland.

[Origin: Irish gaelic]

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Up over the cromlech and down the rath,
Treading a dim forgotten path,
Past the ancient, vague monolith,
Out of the past of tale and myth,
Where the bat wheels silent ’round walls of might,
The phantoms gather from out the night.

[from “The Phantoms Gather”; this is the complete poem as it appears in The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 199; Selected Poems of Robert E. Howard, p. 316; and A Rhyme of Salem Town, p. 124]