Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday Poem: Edgar Allan Poe: The Raven

The Raven by 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.
`'Tis 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.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

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.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
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.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

One of the most famous poems of all time, and the subject in most part for Edgar Allan Poe's, "The Philosophy of Composition." For all it demonstrates the man was not without an ego, it's an interesting piece, and not least of all for his use of one of my favourite prose writing devices, the em dash.  http://www.bartleby.com/109/11.html (I had believed it rather a modern device, and one that I probably like too much. But now, heck if it's good enough for Edgar...)
Loved his insistance that "Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all the poetical tones." And going on to say, " Now, never losing sight of the object supremeness, or perfection, at all points, I asked myself—'Of all melancholy topics, what, according to the universal understanding of mankind, is the most melancholy?' Death—was the obvious reply. 'And when,' I said, 'is this most melancholy of topics most poetical?' From what I have already explained at some length, the answer, here also, is obvious—'When it most closely allies itself to Beauty: the death, then, of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world—equally is beyond doubt that the lips best suited for such topic are those of a bereaved lover.'

Needless to say there is plenty of great advice, like beginning at the end and thinking about how sound influences tone.

Yes, wonderful stuff, and yet I find this discourse on the writer probably sums him up quite well.  The "Great Bad Writer" at https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/the-great-bad-writer-edgar-allan-poe-raven-cusack/#.UudQlLSKzIU  I particularly like the way it trashes Poe to some extent, while grudgingly admitting brilliance.

And I hope you enjoyed this post,

A.J. Ponder.

Next week, a poem by Eileen Mueller and myself and a link to the award winning piece it is part of.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tuesday Poem: Tomorrow is another day

That's the thing
Today is totally hectic
Yesterday is long gone
and tomorrow is...


Yup, I'm late again, but maybe not for my American audience, and so here we go, enjoy your Tuesday, mine slipped through my fingers, but then again some really cool projects are on the boil, including two anthologies, and I moved house.  Yes, I'm in beautiful Brooklyn with a gorgeous walk into town. 

And soon I'll be myself, and the cats will be allowed outside and all will be well with the world. 

So it's a final goodbye to the old cherry tree, getting rid of a few last boxes, planning some renovations, and writing.  So much writing.  

what could be more fun, except sitting out on a deck and watching the trees grow.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year

Just a quick post to wish you all the best in the New Year.  Here's to 2014. May it bring you health and happiness.

A quick recap of my highlights of 2013
Gino's make up demonstration at Rona Gallery.  (Particularly important because I got paid for all the hard work inolved in the White Cloud Worlds Exhibition with Gino's amazing original digital print of "The Angelic Reaper")

What else?
First equal with Eileen Mueller in the Northwrite Collaboration competition with our short story and poem Ahi .  That was pretty exciting.

And of course the nominations for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards for Wizard's Guide to Wellington and Dying for the Record.  

So professionally it's been a great year, personally though it's been rather horrible, so all I can say is roll on 2014.  With a new house (very soon), a new book (hopefully by the end of the year) and new energy, what can I say but hope to see you again on the 21st of Jan after the big move, and a special thanks to all my readers and everyone who has been so supportive, including Helen MCKinlay of gurglewords, Mary McCallum of O Audacious Book, Michelle Elvy of Glow Worm, and really, all the poets of the Tuesday Poetry Blog.
cheers :)