Category Archives: Poetry

Text of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven

Happy Halloween Season, 3.5 readers.

Enjoy this literary classic. Discuss your thoughts in the comments.

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The Raven

By: Edgar Allen 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 stillness 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 upon 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 farther 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 fancy 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 hath 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!

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Happy World Poetry Day

Who is your favorite poet, 3.5 readers?

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Happy World Poetry Day!

Tales of ogres, dragons, and elves,

You’ll never know what you’ll find

On my bookshelves.

Something something something schmattle…

Welcome to the Bookshelf Battle.

My feelings of anger

Are not petty.

Let me tell you

How I Despise the Yeti

Hey 3.5.  Happy World Poetry Day!

Here’s three of my poetry discussions:

Invictus

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

The Road Not Taken

Have a favorite poem you’d like me (or the Stupid Yeti) to discuss on bookshelfbattle.com? Drop it in the comments.

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Walt Whitman’s O Captain! My Captain!

Written to honor President Abe Lincoln after his assassination, Walt Whitman’s  O Captain!  My Captain! compares the end of the Civil War to the end of a long ship voyage, and Lincoln to a journey weary Captain. Makes sense, as Lincoln did guide the nation through some very choppy seas.

O Captain!  My Captain!

By: Walt Whitman

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

The poem is often used as a tribute to leaders in general, and was prominently featured in Dead Poets Society, starring Robin Williams.

Fun fact – a Walt Whitman poetry book carelessly left on a toilet tank would go on to play an important part in AMC’s Breaking Bad.

So, good for you, WW, you honored a great president, and you were featured on a cable drama.

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Romantic Quotes – Les Miserables

Valentine’s Day may be over, but let’s extend it a few more days and talk about romantic literary quotes.  Here’s one:

“To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.”

– Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Here, Hugo is basically saying that finding love is the best experience of life, and if you’ve ever loved someone, then stop worrying about all of the other things you want to accomplish, because you’ve already achieved the best thing that life has to offer.

Is love the best thing life has to offer?

Personally, I’ve found and lost love, and I argue that fro yo with gummy bears is a more enjoyable life experience.

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Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 – “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Behold!  I will now present what I argue is the greatest love poem ever written:

Sonnet 130: My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun

BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Was Shakespeare being serious here?  Was he being satiric?  Both?

I think we have an early example of parody here.

Every love poem compares a woman’s eyes to the sun, her breath to perfume, her cheeks to roses, etc.  Here, Shakespeare is saying, “You know what?  I have a regular, normal, average woman.  She’s nothing special.  But I love her anyway.”

And that’s a great thing!  Most people are normal, average, and ordinary.  You don’t need to over hype people to love them.  Just love your special someone for who they are.

Now then – and listen carefully, dudes.  Keep in mind I am not recommending that you take your ladies out tonight and tell them, “Baby, your breathe reeks, your breasts are grey (dun being an old word for grey), you’re no goddess, and music sounds better than you do!”

And in fact, as a disclaimer to all the crooked lawyers out there reading this – the Bookshelf Battler takes no responsibility for anything that happens to a man who recites Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 to his lady love.

Because while most people won’t get it, it really is a sweet poem.  Why?

Because anyone can love a person with breathe like perfume and whose voice is like music, but true love comes in loving the normal, the average, the ordinary, and even the below average.  And as hot as your woman may be, no one really has breathe like perfume, walks like a goddess, etc.

You may think there are a handful of women like that in the world, but I’d imagine even Brad Pitt is like, at least once in awhile, “Damn Angelina’s breath stanks!!!”

So this Valentine’s Day, grab hold of your very average and ordinary loved ones, knowing that to you they are above average and extraordinary, and make them feel that way.

But seriously.  Don’t tell her that her eyes are nothing like the sun.

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The Greatest Love Poem Ever Written

Tomorrow, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I will share with you the greatest love poem ever written.

Before then, does anyone want to venture a guess as to what it is?

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A Haiku

Books on my book shelf

Which one shall I read to me?

Is that bad grammar?

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Fire and Ice – Robert Frost

No witty commentary today, other than to say I like this poem:

FIRE AND ICE

BY:  Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

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Favorite Poem?

Discuss

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