Saturday, June 8, 2013

Rosy's scrawled poem recommendation: The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

The Raven
Edgar Allan Poe

First published in January 1845, The Raven has a rare combination of musicality, stylised language and supernatural atmosphere. It describes a talking raven's mysterious visit to a man lamenting the loss of his love, Lenore  and traces the man's subsequent fall into madness.

New York Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845

Rosy's scrawlings on The Raven
The Raven holds a special place in many people's hearts for the same reason it does mine. Not only is it a Poe piece it is often one of the first encounters anyone has with dark, supernatural or morbid poetry. Poe is the one most likely encountered and eagerly read by emo kids through to those honestly and morbidly fascinated with vampires and serial killers and the mysterious depths of human depravity.
For me, this poem came late in my Poe reading, which started with The Screaming Skull at a pre-high school age. It was only until I entered an art class, of course, with a fellow morbidly fascinated that I read even the first stanza. Hooked, I was. Of course. Poe has a way with words that will snatch at the imagination and have you scampering to catch up with his tales. I'm not entirely sure what was special about the moment, whether it was Poe, a sense of identification with another morbidly fascinated or the fact that it was art class and one of the few places where I could just relax (the smell of paint being as oddly homey to me as turps, wood shavings, burnt toast and hospital antiseptic). Whatever it was though, The Raven was and is a favourite.
The thing about The Raven is that it has been so incredibly popular and well known since its first printing that many nowadays have either forgotten to read it or consider themselves familiar enough with the poem what with having seen The Simpsons version. It can also be waved away as only for emos due to it being morbid or too standard considering it is Poe and popular. All of the above can lead someone into believing the poem isn't worth the bother of reading and you'd be wrong. The Raven is one of those pieces of writing that changed the way we, as a collective, considered poetry, writing, horror and the supernatural. And any game changer is worth spending time on, even if everyone else is too.
The Raven is beautifully written, with a flow and fall to the lines that is easy to read. There's something almost fluid about the poem that draws you on at a steady pace, right into the heart of the man's madness. There's no disguising the topic, of writing erotic scenes through the eyes of a flea or any such thing, no need for heavy thinking of interpretation. There's just the tumble of thoughts and emotions the man goes through that are all too easy to feel as your own. In fact, you almost end up singing it in your mind as the rhythm takes over. The Raven is a must read poem for so many reasons but above all I have to say it is so for the quick music of uncertainty and insanity.

I'd recommend this poem to: everyone old enough to read it and understand.

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