THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO
16 December 2013
Things That Make You Go
On January 29, 1845, the
New York Evening Mirror
published a poem that would go on to be one of the most celebrated narrative poems ever penned.It depicted a tragic romantic's desperate descent into madness over the loss of his love; and it made its author, Edgar Allan Poe, one of the most feted poets of his time.The poem was entitled "The Raven," and its star was an ominous black bird that visits an unnamed narrator who is lamenting the loss of his true love, Lenore. (We'll get back to Bart Simpson dressed as the Raven later on.)Today, the sad tale would be splashed on the cover of a million tabloid magazines with a title such as
"Lenore Dumps Narrator," "I'll Never Find True Love Again — Narrator Spills on Tragic Split With Lenore," or even "Kanye & Lenore — It's Love! But Don't Tell The Narrator."
But 1845 was the very epitome of "old school," and so the poor, bereft narrator's tale was shared with the world through a complex rhyme and metering scheme that was popularized by Elizabeth Barrett Browning in her poem "Lady Geraldine's Courtship."
Quiet at the back or I'll have you removed.Now, as the narrator slips slowly, desperately into the pit of insanity, he discovers that the
raven, with the license aorded the poet, can
talk; and so he sets about asking the mysterious bird for guidance in navigating his torment:
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling, By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore, "Though thy head 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."
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