The Lumber Room

"Consign them to dust and damp by way of preserving them"

The Raven

with 2 comments

Because I have been obsessed with Poe’s The Raven in general, and especially over the last couple of days:

  1. The original poem, and as it appeared in the American Review
  2. Poe, E.: Near a Raven, a π (pi) mnemonic by Mike Keith. Constrained writing is impressive!
  3. Raven Two, another poem by Mike Keith that is an anagram of the original poem.
  4. An incredibly impressive achievement in constrained writing: Georges Perec wrote a 300-page novel in French (La Disparition) that did not use the letter ‘e’, and Gilbert Adair actually translated it into English (as “A Void”) while still satisfying the constraint! From the book, the poem Black Bird, by Arthur Gordon Pym.

    ‘Twas upon a midnight tristful I sat poring, wan and wistful

    It is unbelievable how much of the original meter this one preserves.

  5. The End of Raven, by Poe’s cat.
  6. Poe on its composition. Spoils it, so I stopped reading.
  7. Wikipedia articles on The Raven and on The Raven in popular culture. One of the many things that Wikipedia is very good at…
  8. The “Abort, Retry, Ignore” poem. There seem to be multiple versions of this with slight variations, but it’s here, here, here.
  9. Quoth the server: 404. Also on
  10. Similar one here.
  11. On xkcd.
  12. On The Simpsons. From the very first Treehouse of Horror episode (in the second season), with a guest voice by James Earl Jones as narrator. He also has a reading.
  13. Amazon review by “Edgar”, a heroic addition to the Tuscan milk phenomenon. The most apt adaptation of the poem I’ve seen yet.


  1. James Earl Jones. Ah, Darth Vader! He nearly ignores the meaning and sticks to a recitation, which is good — and his unsurpassed voice brings out the assonance and alliteration wonderfully.
  2. Christopher Walken (with “video” being Poe or poem or illustrations): a great reading, with eerie sound effects and an annoying guitar occasionally
  3. Vincent Prince doing his thing, with enactment(!)
  4. Christopher Lee — starts slow, almost like simply telling a story, and builds up in intensity. Some music in the background, unfortunately.
  5. Basil Rathbone — even more narration/naturalness and variation in pace, interesting. In places almost like prose. Some commentators call it the best version, and I can see why: if you aren’t familiar with the poem already, and want to know what is going on, this is clearly the most evocative.

Edit [2016-02-20]: My list above is nothing. I am humbled. Behold:


Written by S

Mon, 2007-04-09 at 18:06:49

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. The Raven made for a tremendous read! I loved the references, and thought the trait of _asking_ to be hurt, so characteristic of heartbreak, was very nicely done. The metre is also lovely.

    Verily, Mike Keith is gyad! The anagram poem is astounding! I trust you’ve read his Cadaeic Cadenza?

    Re. Messrs Poe and his cat, ‘To His Coy Mistress’ by Andrew Marvell, and ‘His Coy Mistress to Mr. Marvell’ by A.D.Hope form the most amazing parody pair I’ve read!

    [ and ]


    Sat, 2008-07-12 at 10:58:57

  2. Yes, I usually don’t get English metre quite as easily, but the rhythm in this poem is unmissable.

    That “His Coy Mistress to Mr. Marvell” is a superb reply :)
    I love parodies and scathing reviews, and when something is both, like this one (or, not as good, “Trees”) it’s even better :)

    I haven’t read Cadaiec Cadenza fully, just read the first few bits and noticed how, for example, he draws attention to the 999999 that occurs in the digits (“Feynman Point”, Wikipedia calls it) :)


    Sat, 2008-07-12 at 18:09:28

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