Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quoth the Raven

I'm not very inspired today. All my creative energies went into a piece I wrote for the writer's group at the library last night.

I tend to write best on a deadline, but I really cut this one close. I wrote the whole thing Monday afternoon - half of it while my children were asking, "What's for dinner Mom?" "When are we going to eat Mom?" "Are we going to be late for AWANA tonight Mom?" "We need to eat NOW!"

They got fed, they were on time, I e-mailed off my article. Whew.

Lucky for me (and hopefully for you), I have created a file on my computer of poems I like but haven't yet shared. Today's poem came from that file.

I read quite a bit of Edgar Allan Poe in junior high. Doesn't that seem the perfect age for his short stories and poems? A bit creepy, a bit scary, a bit thrilling. Just like junior high. Although I think they call it "middle school" now.

In eighth grade, I was in the advanced English class. The librarian taught the class - my sister could tell you her name. (I could too, if I took the time to dig out my junior high year book. Not gonna do it though.)

I remember stop-motion animation projects (pre-computer days), IQ tests, vocabulary words like harbinger (The robin is a harbinger of spring.), Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, and Edgar Allan Poe. Particularly this poem. I love the repetition of the line "Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore.'"

I suppose I should understand it at a deeper level now that I'm ahem years older. But I've not really thought about it. I enjoy the rhyming, wording & cadence of it. I hope you do too.

By the way, it's a really, really long poem, so I've just included my favorite stanzas here. (I think that's what you call them. We'll pretend I'm right. And after you enjoy this poem, you can read more poetry here.)

The Raven
Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore -
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
‘ ‘T is some visitor,’ I muttered, ‘tapping at my chamber door -
Only this and nothing more.’

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
‘Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou’ I said, ‘art sure no craven,
Gastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore -
Tell me what they lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!’
Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore.’
‘Prophet!’ said I, ‘thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.’
Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore.’

‘Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!’ I shrieked, upstarting -
‘Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!’
Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore.’

That totally awesome, amazing photo came from kevindooley on flickr

1 comment:

Molly Sabourin said...


I've loved that poem ever since my junior year in highschool when we studied it in English class! I, too, loved the repetition and the way it rolled off my tongue when I read it out loud. Great choice!

That's so neat you are part of a writing group at the library! Good for you! I hope you've been enjoying this weekend with just your boys. Troy said the girls are having a great time and that Lydia and Anna have been so sweet and welcoming to Jane and Isabelle! : )