The Raven; with literary and historical commentary/Parodies

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ANOTHER peculiar sign of the wide influence exercised by The Raven is the number of parodies and imitations it has given rise to: whilst many of these are beneath contempt some of them, for various reasons, are worthy of notice and even of preservation. The first of these, probably, in point of time if not of merit, is The Gazelle, by Philip P. Cooke, a young Virginian poet, who died just as he was giving promise of future fame. His beautiful lyric of Florence Vane had attracted the notice of Poe, who cited it and praised it highly, in his lectures on "The Poets and Poetry of America." The Gazelle might almost be regarded as a response to the elder poet's generous notice. Poe himself observes, that this parody "although professedly an imitation, has a very great deal of original power," and he published it in the New York Evening Mirror (April 29th, 1845), with the remark that "the following, from our new-found boy poet of fifteen years of age, shows a most happy faculty of imitation"—


Far from friends and kindred wandering, in my sick and sad soul pondering,
Of the changing chimes that float, from Old Time's ever swinging bell,
While I lingered on the mountain, while I knelt me by the fountain,
By the clear and crystal fountain, trickling through the quiet dell ;
Suddenly I heard a whisper, but from whence I could not tell
Merely whispering, "Fare thee well."

From my grassy seat uprising, dimly in my soul surmising,
Whence that voice so gently murmuring, like a faintly sounded knell.
Nought I saw while gazing round me, while that voice so spell-like bound me,
While that voice so spell-like bound me—searching in that tranquil dell,
Like hushed hymn of holy hermit, heard from his dimly-lighted cell,
Merely whispering, "Fare thee well !"

Then I stooped once more, and drinking, heard once more the silvery tinkling,
Of that dim mysterious utterance, like some fairy, harp of shell—
Struck by hand of woodland fairy, from her shadowy home and airy,
In the purple clouds and airy, floating o'er that mystic dell,
And from my sick soul its music seemed all evil to expel,
Merely whispering, "Fare thee well!"

Then my book at once down flinging, from my reverie up springing,
Searched I through the forest, striving my vain terror to dispel,
All things to my search subjecting, not a bush or tree neglecting,
When behind a rock projecting, saw I there a white gazelle,
And that soft and silvery murmur, in my ear so slowly fell,
Merely whispering, "Fare thee well!"

From its eye so mildly beaming, down its cheek a tear was streaming,
As though in its gentle bosom dwelt some grief it could not quell,
Still these words articulating, still that sentence ever prating,
And my bosom agitating as upon my ear it fell,
That most strange, unearthly murmur, acting as a potent spell,
Merely uttering, "Fare thee well!"

Then I turned, about departing, when she from her covert starting,
Stood before me while her bosom seemed with agony to swell,
And her eye so mildly beaming, to my aching spirit seeming,
To my wildered spirit seeming, like the eye of Isabel.
But, oh! that which followed after—listen while the tale I tell—
Of that snow-white sweet gazelle.

With her dark eye backward turning, as if some mysterious yearning
In her soul to me was moving, which she could not thence expel,
Through the tangled thicket flying, while I followed panting, sighing,
All my soul within me dying, faintly on my hearing fell,
Echoing mid the rocks and mountains rising round that fairy dell,
Fare thee, fare thee, fare thee well!

Now at length she paused and laid her, underneath an ancient cedar,
When the shadowy shades of silence, from the day departing fell,
And I saw that she was lying, trembling, fainting, weeping, dying,
And I could not keep from sighing, nor from my sick soul expel
The memory that those dark eyes—raised of my long lost Isabel.
Why, I could not, could not tell.

Then I heard that silvery singing, still upon my ear 'tis ringing,
And where once beneath that cedar, knelt my soft-eyed sweet gazelle,
Saw I there a seraph glowing, with her golden tresses flowing,
On the perfumed zephyrs blowing, from Eolus' mystic cell
Saw I in that seraph's beauty, semblance of my Isabel,
Gently whispering, 'Fare thee well!'"

"Glorious one," I cried, upspringing, "art thou joyful tidings bringing,
From the land of shadowy visions, spirit of my Isabel?
Shall thy coming leave no token? Shall there no sweet word be spoken?
Shall thy silence be unbroken, in this ever blessed dell?
Whilst thou nothing, nothing utter, but that fatal, 'Fare thee well!'"
Still it answered, 'Fare thee well!'"

"Speak! oh, speak to me bright being! I am blest thy form in seeing,
But shall no sweet whisper tell me,—tell me that thou lovest still?
Shall I pass from earth to heaven, without sign or token given,
With no whispered token given—that thou still dost love me well?
Give it, give it now, I pray thee—here within his blessed dell,
Still that hated 'Fare thee well.'"

Not another word expressing, but her lip in silence pressing,
With the vermeil-tinted finger seeming silence to compel,
And while yet in anguish gazing, and my weeping eyes upraising,
To the shadowy, silent seraph, semblance of my Isabel,
Slow she faded, till there stood there, once again the white gazelle,
Faintly whispering, "Fare thee well!"

Another of the earliest parodies on The Raven deserves allusion as having, like the preceding, received recognition at the hands of Poe himself. In the number of the Broadway Journal (then partly edited by Poe) of the 26th of April, 1845, the following editorial note appeared, above the stanzas hereafter cited:—


"If we copied into our Journal all the complimentary notices that are bestowed upon us, it would contain hardly anything besides; the following done into poetry is probably the only one of the kind that we shall receive, and we extract it from our neighbour, the New World, for the sake of its uniqueness."

Then with step sedate and stately, as if thrones had borne him lately,
Came a bold and daring warrior up the distant echoing floor;
As he passed the Courier's Colonel, then I saw The Broadway Journal,
In a character supernal, on his gallant front he bore,
And with stately step and solemn marched he proudly through the door,
As if he pondered, evermore.

With his keen sardonic smiling, every other care beguiling,
Right and left he bravely wielded a double-edged and broad claymore,
And with gallant presence dashing, 'mid his confrères stoutly clashing,
He unpityingly went slashing, as he keenly scanned them o'er,
And with eye and mien undaunted, such a gallant presence bore,
As might awe them, evermore.

Neither rank nor station heeding, with his foes around him bleeding,
Sternly, singly and alone, his course he kept upon that floor;
While the countless foes attacking, neither strength nor valor lacking,
On his goodly armour hacking, wrought no change his visage o'er,
As with high and honest aim, he still his falchion proudly bore,
Resisting error, evermore.

This opinion of a contemporary journalist on Poe's non-respect, in his critical capacity, of persons, was speedily followed by several other parodies of more or less interest. The Evening Mirror for May 30th, 1845, contained one entitled The Whippoorwill, the citation of one stanza of which will, doubtless, suffice for "most readers:

"In the wilderness benighted, lo! at last my guide alighted
On a lowly little cedar that overspread a running rill;
Still his cry of grief he uttered, and around me wildly fluttered,
Whilst unconsciously I muttered, filled with boundless wonder still;
Wherefore dost thou so implore me, piteously implore me still?
Tell me, tell me, Whippoorwill!

These lines on an American bird, like those cited from the Broadway, must have passed under Poe's own eyes, even if he did not give them publication, as at the time they appeared he was assistant-editor to the Evening Mirror.

There is yet another parody on The Raven which Poe is known to have spoken of, and to have most truthfully described, in a letter of 16th June, 1849, as "miserably stupid." The lines, only deserving mention from the fact that they invoked Poe's notice, appeared in an American brochure, now of the utmost rarity, styled The Moral of Authors: a New Satire, by J. E. Tuel, and were dated from the—

"Plutonian Shore,

Raven Creek, In the Year of Poetry

Before the Dismal Ages, A.D. 18—"

A quotation from the lines themselves is needless.

It has been seen how rapidly The Raven winged its way across the Atlantic. The ominous bird had not long settled on the English shores ere its wonderful music had penetrated into every literary home. As a natural consequence of its weird power and artificial composition it was speedily imitated: one of the first English parodies was contributed by Robert Brough, to Cruikshank's Comic Almanack for 1853, and was republished in the Piccadilly Annual in 1870. The Vulture, as it is styled, is scarcely worthy of its parentage, but the two first stanzas may be cited as typical of the whole piece, which is descriptive of the depredations committed by a certain class of "sponges" on those people who are willing to put up with their ways:—

Once upon a midnight chilling, as I held my feet unwilling
O'er a tub of scalding water, at a heat of ninety-four;
Nervously a toe in dipping, dripping, slipping, then out-skipping,
Suddenly there came a ripping, whipping, at my chambers door.
"Tis the second floor," I mutter'd, "flipping at my chambers door—
Wants a light—and nothing more!"

Ah! distinctly I remember, it was in the chill November,
And each cuticle and member was with influenza sore;
Falt'ringly I stirr'd the gruel, steaming, creaming o'er the fuel,
And anon removed the jewel that each frosted nostril bore,
Wiped away the trembling jewel that each redden'd nostril bore—
Nameless here for evermore!

A much better parody on The Raven was contributed by Mr. Edmund Yates to Mirth and Metre, a brochure which appeared in 1855. From The Tankard the following stanzas may be given:—

Sitting in my lonely chamber, in this dreary, dark December,
Gazing on the whitening ashes of my fastly-fading fire,
Pond'ring o'er my misspent chances with that grief which times enhances—
Misdirected application, wanting aims and objects higher,—
Aims to which I should aspire.

As I sat thus wond'ring, thinking, fancy unto fancy linking,
In the half-expiring embers many a scene and form I traced—
Many a by-gone scene of gladness, yielding now but care and sadness,—
Many a form once fondly cherished, now by misery's hand effaced,—
Forms which Venus' self had graced.

Suddenly, my system shocking, at my door there came a knocking,
Loud and furious,—such a rat-tat never had I heard before;
Through the keyhole I stood peeping, heart into my mouth upleaping,
Till at length, my teeth unclenching, faintly said I "What a bore!"
Gently, calmly, teeth unclenching, faintly said I, "What a bore!"
Said the echo, "Pay your score!"

* * * * *

Grasping then the light, upstanding, looked I round the dreary landing,
Looked at every wall, the ceiling, looked upon the very floor;
Nought I saw there but a Tankard, from the which that night I'd drank hard,—
Drank as drank our good forefathers in the merry days of yore.
In the corner stood the Tankard, where it oft had stood before,
Stood and muttered, "Pay your score!"

Much I marvelled at this pewter, surely ne'er in past or future
Has been, will be, such a wonder, such a Tankard learned in lore!
Gazing at it more intensely, stared I more and more immensely
When it added, "Come old boy, you've many a promise made before,
False they were as John O'Connell's who would 'die upon the floor.'
Now for once—come, pay your score!"

From my placid temper starting, and upon the Tankard darting
With one furious hurl I flung it down before the porter's door;
But as I my oak was locking, heard I then the self-same knocking,
And on looking out I saw the Tankard sitting as before,—
Sitting, squatting in the self-same corner as it sat before,—
Sitting, crying, "Pay your score!"

* * * * *

Our Miscellany, another brochure, published in 1856, contained The Parrot, apparently by the same hand and of about the same calibre. The opening stanzas read thus:—

"Once, as through the streets I wandered, and o'er many a fancy pondered,
Many a fancy quaint and curious, which had filled my mind of yore,—
Suddenly my footsteps stumbled, and against a man I tumbled,
Who, beneath a sailor's jacket, something large and heavy bore.
"Beg your pardon, sir!" I muttered, as I rose up, hurt and sore;
But the sailor only swore.

Vexed at this, my soul grew stronger: hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "now really, truly, your forgiveness I implore!
But, in fact, my sense was napping—" then the sailor answered, rapping
Out his dreadful oaths and awful imprecations by the score,—
Answered he, "Come, hold your jaw!"

"May my timbers now be shivered—" oh, at this my poor heart quivered,—
"If you don't beat any parson that I ever met before!
You've not hurt me; stow your prosing"—then his huge peacoat unclosing,
Straight he showed the heavy parcel, which beneath his arm he bore,—
Showed a cage which held a parrot, such as Crusoe had of yore,
Which at once drew corks and swore.

Much I marvelled at this parrot, green as grass and red as carrot,
Which, with. fluency and ease, was uttering sentences a score,
And it pleased me so immensely, and I liked it so intensely,
That I bid for it at once; and when I showed of gold my store,
Instantly the sailor sold it; mine it was, and his no more;
Mine it was for evermore.

Prouder was I of this bargain, e'en than patriotic Dargan,
When his Sovereign, Queen Victoria, crossed the threshold of his door;—
Surely I had gone demented—surely I had sore repented,
Had I known the dreadful misery which for me Fate had in store,
Known the fearful, awful misery which for me Fate had in store,
Then, and now, and evermore!

Scarcely to my friends I'd shown it, when (my mother's dreadful groan!—it
Haunts me even now!) the parrot from his perch began to pour
Forth the most tremendous speeches, such as Mr. Ainsworth teaches—
Us were uttered by highway men and rapparees of yore!—
By the wicked, furious, tearing, riding rapparees of yore;
But which now are heard no more.

And my father, straight uprising, spake his mind—It was surprising,
That this favourite son, who'd never, never so transgressed before,
Should have brought a horrid, screaming—nay, e'en worse than that—blaspheming
Bird within that pure home circle—bird well learned in wicked lore!
While he spake, the parrot, doubtless thinking it a horrid bore,
Cried out "Cuckoo!" barked, and swore.

And since then what it has cost me,—all the wealth and friends it's lost me,
All the trouble, care, and sorrow, cankering my bosom's core,
Can't be mentioned in these verses; till, at length, my heartfelt curses
Gave I to this cruel parrot, who quite coolly scanned me o'er,
Wicked, wretched, cruel parrot, quite coolly scanned me o'er,
Laughed, drew several corks, and swore.

"Parrot!" said I, "bird of evil! parrot still, or bird or devil!
By the piper who the Israelitish leader played before,
I will stand this chaff no longer! We will see now which is stronger.
Come, now, off!—Thy cage is open—free thou art, and there's the door!
Off at once, and I'll forgive thee;—take the hint, and leave my door."
But the parrot only swore.

* * * *

The last stanza reads,—

Aud the parrot never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the very self-same perch where first he sat in days of yore;
And his only occupations seem acquiring imprecations
Of the last and freshest fashion, which he picks up by the score;
Picks them up, and, with the greatest gusto, bawls them by the score,
And will swear for evermore.

A parody of no little force, styled The Craven, was published in The Tomahawk, a satirical periodical, on the 19th of June, 1867. From The Craven, who, need it be pointed out, was Napoleon the Third, these stanzas are extracted.


Once upon a midnight lately, might be seen a figure stately,
In the Tuileries sedately poring over Roman lore;
Annotating, scheming, mapping, Cæsar's old positions sapping,
When there came a something rapping, spirit-rapping at the door.
"'Tis some minister," he muttered, "come, as usual, me to bore."
So to Cæsar turned once more.

Back to Cæsar's life returning, with a soul for ever yearning,
Towards the steps his promise-spurning prototype had trod before.
But the silence was soon broken; through the stillness came a token
Life had moved again, or spoken on the other side the door.
"Surely I've no trusty servant," said he, "to deny my door
Now De Morny is no more."

Rising, of some trespass certain, slow he draws the purple curtain,
On whose folds the bees uncertain look like wasps, and nothing more:
Open flings the chamber portal, with a chill which stamps him mortal.
Can his senses be the sport all of his eyes! For there before
He sees an eagle perching on a bust of Janus at the door:
A bleeding bird, and nothing more.

Deep into the darkness peering, not in fear, but only fearing
Adrien's vulgar indiscretions, Marx[1] of eaves-dropping in store:
"Though thy wings are torn and bleeding," said he, with a voice of pleading:
"Thou'rt a bird of royal breeding: thou hast flown from foreign shore."
Quoth the Eagle, "Matamore."

Started with the stillness broken, by reply so aptly spoken,
"Silence," said he, "never utter memories of that field of gore,
Where your poor Imperial master, whom imperious disaster
Followed fast, was tortured faster, till his heart one burden bore:
Till the dirges of his hope, this melancholy burden bore—
Never see Carlotta more."

Then upon the velvet sinking, he betook himself to thinking
How he'd forced the murdered Prince to leave his quiet home of yore;
How he'd made him wield a sceptre, which no erudite preceptor
Might have told would soon be wept or lost on that forbidding shore,
Where earth cries for retribution, where for justice stones implore.
Quoth the Eagle, "Matamore."

"Wretch!" he cried, "some fiend hath sent thee, by that mocking voice he lent thee
Conscience-driven accusations rising up at every pore—
Must my master-mind so vaunted, ever hence be spectre haunted—
Must I see that form undaunted, dying still at Matamore?"
Quoth the Eagle, "Evermore."

"Prophet!" shrieked he, "thing of evil! Here we fear nor God nor Devil!
Wing thee to the House of Hapsburg! Up to Austria's heaven soar,
Leave no bloody plume as token, of the lies my soul has spoken,
Leave my iron will unbroken! Wipe the blood before my door!
Dost thou think to gnaw my entrails with thy beak for evermore? "
Quoth the Eagle, "Jusqu'á Mort."

In the Carols of Cockayne, a volume of elegant verse by the late Henry S. Leigh, published in 1872, was a parody on The Raven, styled Chateaux d'Espagne, "A Reminiscence of David Garrick and The Castle of Andalusia" The following stanzas show the spirit of the piece:—

Once upon an evening weary, shortly after Lord Dundreary
With his quaint and curious humour set the town in such a roar,
With my shilling I stood rapping—only very gently tapping—
For the man in charge was napping—at the money-taker's door.
It was Mr. Buckstone's playhouse, where I linger'd at the door ;
Paid half-price and nothing more.

I was doubtful and uncertain, at the rising of the curtain,
If the piece would prove a novelty, or one I'd seen before ;
For a band of robbers drinking in a gloomy cave and clinking
With their glasses on the table, I had witnessed o'er and o'er ;
Since the half-forgotten period of my innocence was o'er;
Twenty years ago or more.

Presently my doubt grew stronger. I could stand the thing no longer,
"Miss," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore.
Pardon my apparent rudeness. Would you kindly have the goodness
To inform me if this drama is from Gaul's enlighten'd shore ?
For I know that plays are often brought us from the Gallic shore :
Adaptations—nothing more !

So I put the question lowly: and my neighbour answer'd slowly.
"It's a British drama, wholly, written quite in days of yore.
'Tis an Andalusian story of a castle old and hoary,
And the music is delicious, though the dialogue be poor!"
(And I could not help agreeing that the dialogue was poor;
Very flat and nothing more.)

But at last a lady entered, and my interest grew center'd
In her figure and her features, and the costume that she wore.
And the slightest sound she utter'd was like music; so I mutter'd
To my neighbour, "Glance a minute at your play-bill I implore.
Who's that rare and radiant maiden? Tell, oh, tell me! I implore.
Quoth my neighbour, "Nelly Moore!"

Then I asked in quite a tremble—it was useless to dissemble—
"Miss, or Madam, do not trifle with my feelings any more;
Tell me who, then, was the maiden, that appear'd so sorrow laden
In the room of David Garrick, with a bust above the door?"
(With a bust of Julius Csesar up above the study door.)
Quoth my neighbour, "Nelly Moore."

* * * * *

The Dove has had a considerable circulation in the United States. It is by the Rev. J. W. Scott, D.D., and is stated to have been written upon his wife's death. It appeared first in 1874, and is in many lines, more a repetition than a parody of The Raven: the first three, the fourteenth and the last stanzas will suffice to show the style of the piece:—

Once upon a storm-night dreary, sat I pond'ring, restless, weary,
Over many a text of Scripture, helped by ancient sages' lore,
Anxious, nervous, far from napping; suddenly there came a tapping!
As of some one gently rapping—rapping at my chamber-door.
Night like this 'tis scarce a visitor, tapping at my chamber-door?
This, I thought, and nothing more.

Ah! distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember, glimmer'd ghostly on the floor:
Earnestly I wished the morrow; vainly had I sought to borrow
From my Bible ease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Annore—
For a saintly, radiant matron, whom the angels name Annore
Lately wife, now wife no more.

She had passed the gloomy portals, which forever hide from mortals
Spirit myst'ries, which the living are most eager to explore.
Poring o'er the sacred pages, guides to all the good for ages,
Sat I, helped by lore of sages, when the rapping at my door,
Startled me as if a spirit had come to my chamber-door,
Tapping thus, and meaning more.

* * * * *

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer,
Swung by seraphim, whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Oh, my soul, thy God hath heard thee, by these angels and this bird He
Hath to sweetest hopes now stirr'd thee—hopes of finding thy Annore
In the far-off land of—spirits of reunion with Annore!"
Quoth the dove, "For evermore!"

* * * * *

And the white dove, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the polish'd bust of Paulus, just above my chamber-door;
And his eyes with kindness beaming—holy spirit's kindness seeming,—
And a soft light from him streaming, sheds its radiance on the floor;
And my glad soul in that radiance, that lies floating on the floor,
Shall be basking—Evermore!

Some lines on "The Death of Edgar Poe," written by Sarah J. Bolton for the Poe Memorial Committee, are composed in imitation of The Raven, and are as follows:

They have laid thee down to slumber where the sorrows that encumber
Such a wild and wayward heart as thine can never reach thee more;
For the radiant light of gladness never alternates with sadness,
Stinging gifted souls to madness, on that bright and blessed shore;
Safely moored from sorrow's tempest, on that distant Aidenn shore,
Rest thee, lost one, evermore.

Thou were like a meteor glancing through a starry sky, entrancing,
Thrilling, awing, wrapt beholders with the wondrous light it wore;
But the meteor has descended, and the "nightly shadows blended,"
For the fever-dream is ended, and the fearful crisis o'er—
Yes, the wild unresting fever-dream of human life is o'er—
Thou art sleeping evermore.

Ocean, earth, and air could utter words that made thy spirit flutter—
Words that stirred the hidden fountain swelling in the bosom's core ;
Stirred it till its wavelets, sighing, wakened to a wild replying,
And in numbers never dying sung the heart's unwritten lore—
Sung in wild, bewitching numbers, thy sad heart's unwritten lore,
Now unwritten nevermore.

* * * * *

Thou did'st see the sunlight quiver over many a fabled river,
Thou did'st wander with the shadows of the mighty dead of yore,
And thy songs to us came ringing, like the wild, unearthly singing
Of the viewless spirits winging over the night's Plutonian shore—
Of the weary spirits wandering by the gloomy Stygian shore—
Sighing dirges evermore.

Thou did'st seem like one benighted—one whose hopes were crushed and blighted—
Mourning for the lost and lovely that the world could not restore ;
But an endless rest is given to thy heart, so wrecked and riven—
Thou hast met again in heaven with the lost and loved Lenore—
With the "rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore ;"
She will leave thee nevermore.

From the earth a star has faded, and the shrine of song has shaded,
And the Muses veil their faces, weeping sorrowful and sore;
But the harp, all rent and broken, left us many a thrilling token,
We shall hear its numbers spoken, and repeated o'er and o'er,
Till our hearts shall cease to tremble—we shall hear them sounding o'er,
Sounding ever, evermore.

We shall hear them, like a fountain tinkling down a rugged mountain ;
Like the wailing of the tempest mingling 'mid the ocean's roar ;
Like the winds of autumn sighing when the summer flowers are dying ;
Like a spirit-voice replying from a dim and distant shore ;
Like a wild, mysterious echo from a distant, shadowy shore,
We shall hear them evermore.

Nevermore wilt thou, undaunted, wander through the palace haunted.
Or the cypress vales Titanic, which thy spirit did explore ;
Never hear the ghoul king, dwelling in the ancient steeple tolling,
With a slow and solemn knelling, losses human hearts deplore ;
Telling in a sort of Runic rhyme the losses we deplore ;
Tolling, tolling, evermore.

If a living human being ever had the gift of seeing
The grim and ghastly countenance its evil genius wore,
It was thou, unhappy master, whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till thy song one burden bore—
Till the dirges of thy hope the melancholy burden bore—
Of never, nevermore.

Numberless other parodies, more or less smart or inane, as the case may be, have appeared, and continue to appear, in American, British, and Colonial publications. Many of the best of these imitations have appeared in the London Punch, but others of scarcely less vigour have been published in the minor comic papers. Those of our readers who feel interested in this branch of our theme will find a large and varied collection of these imitations, they might fitly be termed desecrations of The Raven, in Mr. Walter Hamilton's collection of Parodies, now publishing[2] monthly: from it some of our specimens have been drawn. This section of our book may properly conclude with the following quotation from Funny Folks Annual for 1884, entitled The End of the Raven:—

You'll remember that a Raven in my study found a haven
On a plaster bust of Pallas, just above my chamber-door ;
And that with no sign of flitting, he persisted there in sitting
Till, I'm not above admitting, that I found that bird a bore.
Found him, as he sat and watched me, an indubitable bore,
With his dreary "Nevermore."

But it was, in fact, my liver caused me so to shake and shiver,
And to think a common Raven supernatural influence bore;
I in truth had, after dining, been engaged some hours in "wining"—
To a grand old port inclining—which its date was '44!
And it was this crusted vintage, of the season '44,
Which had muddled me so sore.

But next morn my "Eno" taking, for my head was sadly aching,
I descended to my study, and a wicker cage I bore.
There the Raven sat undaunted, but I now was disenchanted,
And the sable fowl I taunted as I "H-s-s-h-d !" him from my door,
As I took up books and shied them till he flew from off my door,
Hoarsely croaking, "Nevermore !"
"Now, you stupid bird!" I muttered, as about the floor it fluttered.
"Now you're sorry p'raps you came here from where'er you lived before?"
Scarcely had I time to ask it, when, upsetting first a casket,
My large-size waste-paper basket he attempted to explore,
Tore the papers with his beak, and tried its mysteries to explore,
Whilst I ope'd the cage's door.

Ever in my actions quicker, I brought up the cage of wicker,
Placed it on the paper basket, and gave one loud "H-s-s-h!" once more.
When, with quite a storm of croaking, as though Dis himself invoking,
And apparently half choking, in it rushed old "Nevermore!"—
Right into the cage of wicker quickly popped old "Nevermore!"
And I smartly shut the door.

Then without the least compunction, booking to St. John's Wood Junction,
To the "Zoo" my cage of wicker and its sable bird I bore.
Saw the excellent Curator, showed him the persistent prater—
Now in manner much sedater—and said, "Take him, I implore!
He's a nuisance in my study, take him, Bartlett, I implore!"
And he answered, "Hand him o'er."

"Be those words our sign of parting!" cried I, suddenly upstarting,
"Get you in amongst your kindred, where you doubtless were before.
You last night, I own, alarmed me (perhaps the cucumber had harmed me!),
And you for the moment charmed me with your ceaseless, 'Nevermore!'
Gave me quite a turn by croaking out your hollow 'Nevermore!'
But 'Good-bye!' all that is o'er!"

* * * * *

Last Bank Holiday, whilst walking at the Zoo, and idly talking,
Suddenly I heard low accents that recalled the days of yore;
And up to the cages nearing, and upon the perches peering—
There, with steak his beak besmearing, draggle-tailed, sat "Nevermore!"
Mutual was our recognition, and, in his debased condition, he too thought of heretofore;
For anon he hoarsely muttered, shook his draggled tail and fluttered, drew a cork at me and swore—
Yes, distinctly drew three corks, and most indubitably swore!
Only that, and nothing more!

  1. Adrian Marx, purveyor of Court news to The Figaro.
  2. Reeves & Turner, 196, Strand, W.C.