Friday, March 6, 2009

That Raven

Here is a satire my great-grandfather, Joseph Bert Smiley, wrote upon Edgar Allen Poe's poem, The Raven. It's a little something my family has always enjoyed. I suppose it's our other favorite of his, along with St. Peter at the Gate.

Joseph Bert Smiley

(Click here if you need to refresh your memory of the original poem, because otherwise you won't be able to appreciate this spoof of it.)

Poe's Raven

How distinctly I remember, late one evening
last November,
I was sitting on a barrel that the moonlight gloated o’er –
‘Twas an empty cider barrel and was useful
now no more –
Worthless, now, forevermore.

As a few lone stars were blinking, I betook myself to thinking,
And I thought of that old raven Edgar Poe has told about –
That was quite a high old raven Mr. Poe has told about.
I kept thinking, thinking, thinking, as those
stars kept blinking, blinking,
And the more I thought about it, I was more
and more in doubt;
Edgar’s logic knocked me out.

And I found no explanation to that curious situation –
Here’s the lamp upon the table, and the raven
on the door,
And the lamplight o’er him streaming threw
his shadow on the floor.
Think of where the lamp was sitting and
you cannot help admitting
‘Twas an awful crooked shadow to have ever reached the floor.
‘Twas a hump-backed, cross-eyed shadow if it
ever saw the floor.

So I sought a clear solution to that shadow’s
dire confusion,
And my only strong conclusion was that Edgar
had the snakes.
I am sure he had been drinking
and must have had the snakes.
So perhaps the raven, sitting on the cornice,
never flitting,
With its fiery eyes a-burning into Edgar’s
bosom core
Was the whiskey he’d been drinking just before
he fell to thinking
Of his lovely lost Lenore.
It was bug-juice, evermore.

Or perhaps the maiden, deeming such a fellow
too demeaning,
Had preferred to share the fortunes of the
friends who’d gone before,
And had perished, broken-hearted, as fair
maids have done before.
Maybe he disgraced and slighted till she felt
her life was blighted
And her lonely soul, benighted, wandered to
a fairer shore.
Maybe Edgar’s drinking killed her, as it has
killed girls before.
It was benzene, evermore.

Get most anybody frisky on a quart or two
of whiskey,
And he’d think he saw some shadows, or some
ravens, or some floors,
And the lamps would get befuddled, and the
shadows awful muddled,
And he’d see one crazy raven perched on
forty-‘leven doors;
And he wouldn’t know a shutter from a dozen
lost Lenores.

It is my profound opinion that if Poe had
kept dominion
O’er his brains and o’er his reason, as they
used to be of yore, –
That if he had been less frisky and had guzzled
down less whiskey
He’d have never seen that raven on the bust
above his door.
Very likely that same evening he’d been
on a bust before
And got sober – nevermore.

Edgar Allen Poe


Monica said...

Lovely parody says the English teacher.

Catrin said...

Wonderful! Thanks for posting it - and Poe's poem was a favorite of mine in those days of adolescence... lost forever more

Beth said...

I love this - what a great-grandfather you must have had!