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By Edgar Allan 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 someone 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
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!
Once upon a lunchtime happy,
As I dined on toast with Pappy--
Not to mention olives, ravioli, frequent bourbon shots and more--
As we slurped our hot shrimp soup,
A thundering reached us from the stoop
Like a throng of headstrong giants stomping, stomping on the floor.
"'Tis but the cat," said Pappy. "Neener-Neener's at the door."
His mental gears had problems--they were slipping ever more.
I remember 'twas in late July,
With funny clouds in the northern sky,
And every one looked like a guy with whom I hoped to score.
Longingly I yearned for night
With burning thoughts and fervent might,
That such a fellow I might sight upon the dance hall floor,
Who'd lavish me with love galore--
Some winning, grinning, spinning nitwit whore.
Again we heard the thrilling crashing,
Banging, slamming, booming, bashing
Like the flashing sledge of Thor.
But Pappy kept on eating
(Hard to interrupt his feeding--
Pappy never saw a platter he'd ignore);
"It's the cat," the old man mumbled. "It's our little cat, Lenore.
Methinks our Neener-Neener wants to enter and explore."
In a blink I lammed my seat,
Traversed the room on hurried feet,
With fingers crossed that I might meet my soulmate at the door.
"Who's that? Who's there?" called brightly I,
"--A winking knight? A hot young guy?
Come in, my friend--do not be shy! Let's view your face, senor!"
But when I peered around the door,
My hungry eyes met hayfields--nothing more.
Thence into the front yard staring,
Hoping that the clothes I'm wearing
Aren't too overblown or daring, but what a guy'd adore--
The velvet blouse of shimmering green,
The cummerbund of tangerine,
The frilled brassiere of aubergine with printed hearts galore;
The vest of crepe, the stylish cape,
The emerald glasses fixed with tape, the rhinestone rings--all four--
And pebbled leather heels, stiletto,
Colored tempting amaretto--
My friend Miranda shrieked falsetto when I got them from the online store--
And, best of all--resplendent thrill--
The needle to my outfit's kill--
The stitches stitched with greatest skill--my natty flannel drawers.
But all I see are shrubs, a bore,
And romping lambs, which I abhor.
My eyes got hot, my vision blurred;
I flipped the rotten yard the bird;
I yearned to have my prayers be heard, not seemingly ignored.
Then fretting, moaning, frowning, bitchin',
I stumbled back to the sunny kitchen,
Longing for to scratch my itchin'--bitterly I swore:
"It was that one-eyed Brett, I'll bet,
Who claimed to have a channelled 'Vette,
But all he had was mounds of debt and eyeballs in a drawer.
Or maybe it was Silent Sam,
Who often called me miss or ma'am,
Until I mocked his mom's roast Spam, and then he spoke no more.
Or possibly 'twas Finn DeVille,
Who had a lot of hunting skill,
Which he unfortunately employed in a misguided attempt to kill former vice-president,
one-time presidential frontrunner, self-styled inventor of the Internet, and
tall, brainy, benevolent, perfervid, very squirrelly environmental demonstrator Albert Arnold Gore.
But Finn's still serving nineteen years--
That's one year each for every spear
He hurled at Al and the French premiere at a meet-and-greet in Baltimore.
My memory stars these fools of yore
Yet they're returning nevermore."
Pappy, meantime, at his dinner,
Wasn't getting any thinner.
He nabbed a bivalve--"Found a winner!"--and ate it, shouting, "Score!"
Then he snatched a trembling squid
And grinned, "I'd love to help you, kid,"
And roared as down his throat it slid, as he'd roared so oft before.
Then on to nibbling gourmet roe,
Down the hatch with some tart merlot,
And then a deep-fried smelt in dough, and buttered squab, and more.
Nine onion melts had gone before,
But the batty codger wanted nine more.
I muttered, "Is this but a vivid dream,
A rotten evil REM-sleep scheme,
A loony mental movie meme, not thought of heretofore?
The truth is that I need a hunk
To squire me and share my bunk,
Not some crummy common punk who tromps upon the floor,
Then vanishes from sight before --"
And then a crash rang out once more.
My heart in mouth, I torqued the knob
And thrust it straight into the slob,
Praying 'twas the suntanned Bob, who hung out at the shore.
But then I saw a horse instead,
With rolling eyes and gallant head,
A prancing, snorting horse, well-bred, and noble to the core.
My pulse ran fast with rush and roar,
Strong tide upon my heart's far shore.
The creature's hide, as smooth and svelte
As the antelope's on the sunny veldt,
Compelled my tender heart to melt (not literally--no gore);
The velvet nose, the leather halter,
The way he rocked me like Gibraltar...
I was the offering, he the altar--not a notion I'd ignore.
I yearned to be more trim, vivacious,
Stunning, tough, yet dainty, gracious.
I yearned for lips more full, salacious. I'd yearned for them before.
Oh, the dollars I'd have given
To hear his tale, his way of livin',
To what great lengths his life was driven, the vistas he'd explored.
Was this the mount of a lean vaquero,
Lost in a game of tavern faro?
Was he friends with Clarence Darrow? I pondered this, and more.
Or was he chummy with the devil,
Hellish spawn of ghastly revel,
Thrown by Lucifer up a level to visit my front door?
"In what fine things," I bravely babbled,
"Have you set your hooves to dabble?
Do you play word games--Boggle? Scrabble? I don't, any more--
The vowels tend to hurt my score,
And consonants? That V's a chore."
Pappy, in his aqua shorts,
Sang, "Come into my home, old sport!"
And gulped a half-gnawn saffron torte from Anton's Tart and Waffle Store.
With a haughty look of pride,
The horse clip-clopped and stepped inside,
And I felt like I nearly died, I felt such strong rapport.
The vibrant stallion struck a pose,
With upraised hoof and quivering nose,
As if he smelled a fragrant rose, rather than oven-grilled fillet of albacore.
He seemed all but immovable,
A statue unimprovable,
So unutterably Louvre-able, my inner birdies soared.
He shook his mane and hemmed a bit,
As solemn as a pig in shit,
Then lay his lovely bit upon the floor.
Hot tremors through my bloodstream tore
As he spoke these words--just these, no more:
"Neener-Neener wants his cream,"
He shrilly screamed,
"And I've been sent to see the cream is poured.
His lordship's nine lives give me ten times the chores--
Now go and pour some cream for him, Lenore!"