Friday, January 29, 2016

Poe's The Raven

Published today in 1845, The Raven is an immortal classic so beautifully lyric, full of darkness and mystery, profound loneliness, sadness, grief, longing and color. The effect of the poem on the reader depends on the reader's state of mind at the time of the reading, life experiences and what you happen to be paying attention to at the time. If you're enjoying each word, letting each word roll around in your brain before going on to the next, the enjoyment lasts that much longer. 

Sometimes certain words or images seem to attract your attention more than others. A few years later when you read the poem again, your mind in a different state, as your life has moved along to a different place than the place you were at the time of the previous reading, you might get something more or different out of it. Perhaps the words that affected you so keenly during the previous reading don't have any affect at all, but others become more relevant to your present state.

As I read the poem today on its anniversary of publication, I found myself noting the colors. Purple curtains, raven ebony, velvet-violet. The colors combined with the darkness outside the chamber door, the darkness of the night, the shadow of the raven on the floor, the burning of the soul, the burning of the lamp, seem like a luxurious contrast of Victorian opulence with darkness and heat, yet the speaker's state of mind is that of fear, grief, loneliness and sadness. 

Did you have to read this as a kid in school? I remember it being assigned somewhere around seventh grade. What is a seventh grader going to have in common with this poem? I'm sure the school was trying to acquaint the students with classic literature. All I remember is how weird it was that a bird flew in the guy's window and perched in his room and only said one word!

No comments:

Post a Comment