Quaint and Curious - Parodies and Pastiches of Poe's The Raven

The Ager

The Big Blue Union (Marysville, Kansas) Dec 2 1865 • The Clarksville Weekly Chronicle Jan 5, 1866 (as by “A. Poet”) • The Evansville Journal (Vanderburgh County) May 31 1867 • The Morning Union Oct 24 1871 • ...

Once upon an evening bleary,
While I sat me dreamy, dreary,
In the sunshine, thinking over
Things that passed in days of yore;
While I nodded, nearly sleeping,
Gently came a something creeping
Up my back, like water seeping—
Seeping upward from the floor.
“’Tis a cooling breeze,” I muttered,
From the regions ’neath the floor—
Only this, and nothing more.”
Ah! distinctly I remember
It was in that wet September,
When the earth and every member
Of creation that it bore
Had for days and weeks been soaking
In the meanest, most provoking
Foggy rains that, without joking,
We had ever seen before;
So I knew it must be very
Cold and damp beneath the floor—
Very cold beneath the floor.
So I sat me nearly napping,
In the sunshine, stretching, gaping,
Craving water, but delighted
With the breeze from ’neath the floor,
Till I found me waxing colder,
And the stretching growing bolder,
And myself a feeling older—
Older than I’d felt before;
Feeling that my joints were stiffer
Than they were in days of yore—
Stiffer than they’d been before.
All along my back the creeping
Soon gave place to rushing, leaping,
As if countless frozen demons
Had concluded to explore
All the cavities — the “varmints”—
’Twixt me and my nether garments,
Up into my hair and downward
Through my boots into the floor:
Then I found myself a shaking,
Gently first, but more and more—
Every moment more and more.
’Twas the “ager,” and it shook me
Into many clothes, and took me
Shaking to the kitchen — every
Place where there was warmth in store;
Shaking till the dishes clattered,
Shaking till the tea was spattered,
Shaking, and with all my warming
Feeling colder than before;
Shaking till it had exhausted
All its powers to shake me more—
Till it could not shake me more.
Then it rested till the morrow,
Then resumed with all the horror
That it had the face to borrow,
Shaking, shaking as before;
And from that day in September—
Day that I shall long remember—
It has made diurnal visits,
Shaking, shaking, oh so sore!
Shaking off my boots, and shaking
Me to bed, if nothing more—
Fully this, if nothing more.
And to-day the swallows flitting
Round my cottage see me sitting
Moodily within the sunshine
Just inside my silent door,
Waiting for the ages, seeming
Like a man forever dreaming,
And the sunlight on me streaming
Throws no shadows on the floor;
For I am too thin and sallow
To make shadows on the floor;
’Nary shadow — any more!

J Parish Stelle was editor of The Progressive Farmer, and of the agricultural department of The Mobile Register. He was also the author of The American Watchmaker and Jeweller: A Full and Comprehensive Exposition of All The Latest and Most Approved Secrets of the Trade (1873), and The Gunsmith’s Manual (1883).

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