the raven…

ummm....nevermore?

This would be my Halloween post. There’s a scene in a Terry Pratchett book with a raven sitting on a skull – because that’s so appropriate… as I remember it, the raven was terribly bored. I think this one is practising saying “nevermore” to while away the idle hours of skull-sitting… but he’s very atmospheric!

This week everyone should check out  Machine of Death and buy the book!… A number of my favourite webcomic writers and artists participated in this project/anthology but my most favourite is of course Tom Radcliffe, friend, writer, poet, physicist and frequent contributor to this blog. As well, we have done a silly illustrated story/graphic novel together – well, graphic epic poetry thing called Cindy Loo You (don’t forget to read it!) and have another more webcomic-like project in the works.

UPDATE: From Tom in the comments a very atmospheric poem to go with the image! Enjoy!!

This midnight bird is deeply boring into questions, quandaries soaring
high above his cranial perch where he studies arcane lore:
to catch a poet lightly sleeping, tossing in his dreams and weeping,
where on wings of darkness sweeping comes a raven with a roar
of his mantra, “Nevermore.”

Through the passages of sleep runs the poet far and deep
where Alph the sacred river ran to reach some subterranean shore
whose beaches host the scattered bones of long extinct and ancient poems,
souls of songs whose words have flown, music lost without a score;
quoth the poet, “Nevermore.”

There beside the death of dreams he wades into Alph’s sacred stream
and drinks the waters of forgetting while above the raven soars:
dark on blackness always calling; turning, rising, ever falling,
as the poet’s mind is mauling memories that form his core,
soft repeating, “Nevermore.”

Then a tapping rap erupts to break the dream and interrupt
the poet’s loss of all he is to find a raven at his door
who hops upon his desktop skull where a bird might sit and mull
the human mind’s hard bony hull, hiding brain both hind and fore.
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore!”

Copyright (C) 2010 Tom Radcliffe

image (cc) 2010 Hilary Farmer

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3 Responses to “the raven…”

  1. This midnight bird is deeply boring into questions, quandaries soaring
    high above his cranial perch where he studies arcane lore:
    to catch a poet lightly sleeping, tossing in his dreams and weeping,
    where on wings of darkness sweeping comes a raven with a roar
    of his mantra, “Nevermore.”

    Through the passages of sleep runs the poet far and deep
    where Alph the sacred river ran to reach some subterranean shore
    whose beaches host the scattered bones of long extinct and ancient poems,
    souls of songs whose words have flown, music lost without a score;
    quoth the poet, “Nevermore.”

    There beside the death of dreams he wades into Alph’s sacred stream
    and drinks the waters of forgetting while above the raven soars:
    dark on blackness always calling; turning, rising, ever falling,
    as the poet’s mind is mauling memories that form his core,
    soft repeating, “Nevermore.”

    Then a tapping rap erupts to break the dream and interrupt
    the poet’s loss of all he is to find a raven at his door
    who hops upon his desktop skull where a bird might sit and mull
    the human mind’s hard bony hull, hiding brain both hind and fore.
    Quoth the raven, “Nevermore!”

    🙂

    Copyright (C) 2010 Tom Radcliffe

    Love the image, and thanks for the plug! It goes without saying you’re my favourite artist! (But I’ll say it anyway).

    I’ve done kind of a Poe/Coleridge mashup here, and simplified Poe’s rhyme scheme (which he lifted from Elizabeth Barrett Browning) a bit: the original has a more-or-less repeat of the penultimate line, which sounds a bit stilted and awkward to modern ears.

    I may revisit and expand this poem in my blog at some point–the trochic octameter is kinda fun, and I’d like to think this little pastiche has caught a bit of the ambiguity of Poe’s original, in which the scholar wants to forget his lost love but at the same time hangs on to the painful memories of her as the only tangible reminder of her presence.

    The raven in Poe’s poem actually sits on a bust of Pallas Athena, the Greco-Roman goddess of wisdom, warfare and owls. The bust in the poem was placed above the scholar’s door, a peculiar situation whose purpose seems to have been to provide a word ending in “-or”.

    But the raven-on-skull motif is so much more compelling it rapidly took over, and rightly so!

  2. […] did a beautiful raven image for her blog, and I wrote a version of this poem in response. This one is a bit improved over that, […]

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