I sat on my big meadow-patterned chair in the sun room and opened up my latest borrowed library book, Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen, a novel recommended to me by my pen pal, Katrina. The cover sparked my interest, the ornate, golden arch and partial image of this elegant-looking woman (which is “Woman’s Face” by Chris Tobin according to the book jacket credits). Rather than describing it in any more words, I’ll post a picture.
The novel opens with “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe. Although I’ve read this poem before in my school days, I hoped I was wrong about my memory of it, that I would get something more out of it today, that it would end on a happier note.
I read it aloud to myself while grackles cackled on the rain-drenched lawn, and I felt the piercing sadness and hopelessness of its final lines. Even poems that don’t have much deep wisdom or truth to them can still startle, terrify, or fascinate us. From what I’ve read about Poe, he didn’t intend to write the poem to teach a great truth about the world through allegory. Instead, he wanted to strike us with a strange, gothic image, such as a talking raven.
The narrative poem brings to mind the desolate feeling of hopelessness and loneliness, a mood that can seem endless to the person who is stuck inside it. And yet, the beauty of well-chosen words (for the writer and reader alike) is a balm for the suffering. Reading this poem renewed my interest in traditional form poetry, even if I found it to be a downer.
Oh, and a grackle (not a raven) came to visit after I finished it. It landed on the bulkhead roof, looked in through the kitchen window with a dark, gleaming eye, and flew off all flustered. If it wasn’t for the comfort of Jesus, a positive mind, and a giving up on creating meaning through unconnected events, I might still be scared. Isn’t it funny how certain creatures scare us, while others bring delight, mainly by their appearance and sound? Anyway, I really like seeing fluffy little bunnies hopping around my yard.
Mrs. Poe begins with strong lyrical prose, and whether or not it’s historically accurate, it is entertaining and absorbing thus far. I will most likely post a reflective review of it, a type of post I’d like to do more of in the future, when I am finished.
Post thoughts on “The Raven,” Poe, or whatever else below. 🙂