Which “land of Darkness and deep Night”?

(As the serious summertime sickness known as “teh lazy” has struck me, here’s a worked-over repost from 2007.)

Here’s a quiz, too. Which land is this?

Vista on vista marching, hills on hills,
Slope beyond slope, each dark with sullen trees,
Our gaunt land lay. So when a man climbed up
A rugged peak and gazed, his shaded eye
Saw but the endless vista — hill on hill
Slope beyond slope, each hooded like its brothers.

It was gloomy land that seemed to hold
All winds and clouds and dreams that shun the sun,
With bare boughs rattling in the lonesome winds,
And the dark woodlands brooding over all,
Nor even lightened by the rare dim sun
Which made squat shadows out of men; they called it
__________, land of Darkness and deep Night.

Is it Finland? Finland is a land with forests left and forests right; the only free spots are full of mosquitoes in the summer, snow in the winter. Finland is a gloomy land, a brooding land with either too little or too much sun. Also a land despite and because of all this dear to me. Finland, surely, in the words of some great-sounding poet?

Well, no.

This land of Darkness and deep Night is Cimmeria, the homeland of Robert E. Howard’s Conan, the sullen-eyed barbarian of gigantic melancholy, come to tread the jewelled kingdoms under his sandalled feet. Still, it sounds so damnably close to Finland to me.

Maybe this explains why Finns, once they venture forth from their gloomy land, seem to engage mostly in drinking, whoring and beating up the locals.

(The quote is from Howard’s poem “Cimmeria”, which you can find in this fine book.)

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