Raven

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"The Raven", Edgar Allen Poe (1845), revisited by Lou Reed (2003)


Gustav Doré, 1884.

Once upon a midnight dreary / as 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 someone gently rapping / rapping at my chamber door / "'Tis some visitor", I muttered. / "tapping at my chamber door / only this and nothing more".


Muttering I got up weakly / always have had trouble sleeping / stumbling upright my mind racing / furtive thoughts flowing once more / I there, hoping for some sunrise. / "Happiness would be a surprise; / loneliness no longer a prize. / Rapping at my chamber door, / seeking out the clever bore / lost in dreams forever more / only this and nothing more".


Hovering my pulse was racing / stale tobacco my lips tasting / Scotch sitting upon my basin / remnants of the night before. / Came again / infernal tapping on the door / in my mind jabbing, / "Is it in or outside rapping, / calling out to me once more / the fit and the fury of Lenore, / nameless here forever more?


And the silken sad uncertain / rustling of the purple curtain / thrilled me, filled me / with fantastic terrors never felt before / so that now, O Wind!, stop breathing / hoping yet to calm my breathing / "Tis some visitor entreating / entrance at my chamber door, / some lost visitor entreating / entrance at my chamber door. / This is it, and nothing more."


Deep into the darkness peering, / long I stood there / wondering, fearing, / doubting, dreaming fantasies / no mortal dared to dream before. / But the silence was unbroken, / and the stillness gave no token / and the only word there spoken / was the whispered name, "Lenore?". / This I thought / and out loud whispered from my lips. / The foul name festered, / echoing itself, / merely this, and nothing more.


Back into my chamber turning, / every nerve within me burning / when once again I heard a tapping / somewhat louder than before / "Surely", said I / "surely that is something at my iron staircase." / "Open the door to see what (the) threat is / Open the window, free the shutters. / Let us this mystery explore. / Oh bursting heart be still this once. / Let's this mystery explore. / It's the wind, it's the wind / and nothing more."

Super Bowl XXXV ring (Baltimore Ravens)


Just one epithet I muttered, as inside / I gagged and shuddered, / when with manly flirt and flutter / in there flew a stately raven, / sleek and ravenous as any foe, / not the least obeisance made he / not a minutes gesture towards me / of recognition or politeness, / but perched above my chamber door / this foul and salivating visage, / insinuating with its knowledge, / perched above my chamber door, / silent sat and staring: / nothing more.


Askance, askew, / the self-said fancy smiles at you. I swear / at this savage vicious countenance it wears. / "Though you show here shorn and shaven, / I admit myself forlorn and craven, / Ghastly grim and ancient Raven / wandering from the opiate shores / tell me what thy lordly name is, / that you are not nightmare sewage, / some dire powder drink or inhalation / framed from flames of downtown lore."

Quoth the raven, "Nevermore!"


And the raven, sitting lonely, / staring sickly at my male sex only. / That one word as if his soul / and in that one word / he did outpour, "pathetic." / "Nothing fa(r)ther" then he uttered / Not a feather then he fluttered / till finally 'twas I that muttered / as I stared dully at the floor. / "Other friends have flown and left me, / Flown as each and every hope has flown before / and as you no doubt will, 'fore the 'morrow."

But the bird said, "Nevermore!"


Where's the tempest?

But then I felt the air grow denser / perfumed from some unseen incense / as though accepting angelic intrusion / when in fact I felt collusion / before the guise of false memories. / Respite! Respite! / Through the haze of cocaine's glory / I smoke and smoke the blue vial's glory / to forget at once the base Lenore.

Quoth the raven, "Nevermore".


"Prophet", said I, "thing of evil, / Prophet still, if a bird or devil / by that heaven that bends above us / by that God we both ignore / tell this soul with sorrow laden / willful and destructive intent / how had lapsed a pure / heart lady to the greediest of needs? / Sweaty, arrogant, dickless liar / who has ascribed to nothing higher / than a jab from a prick to a needle / straight to betrayal and disgrace / the conscience showing not a trace?"

Quoth the raven, "Nevermore!"


"Be that word our sign of parting / bird or fiend," I yelled upstarting. / "Get thee back into the tempest / into the smoke-filled bottle's shore. / Leave no black plume as a token / of the slime thy soul has spoken. / Leave my loneliness unbroken. / Quit as those have quit before. / Take the talon from my heart / and see that I can care no more. / Whatever mattered came before / I vanish with the dead Lenore."

Quoth the raven, "Nevermore!"


But the raven, never flitting / still is sitting silent sitting / above a painting silent painting / of a forever silenced whore / and his eyes have all the seeming / of a demon that is dreaming / and the lamplight over him streaming / throws his shadow to the floor.

I love she who hates me more. / I love she who hates me more / and my soul shall not be lifted from that shadow. / Nevermore.


Poe's original (1845).