The Brooklyn Eagle Jan 11 1874
Once upon a storm-night dreary, sat I pond’ring, restless, weary,
Over many a text of Scripture, helped by ancient-sages’ lore,
Anxious, nervous, far from napping; suddenly there came a tapping!
As of some one gently rapping — rapping at my chamber-door.
Night like this ’tis scarce a visitor, tapping at my chamber-door?
This, I thought, and nothing more.
Ah! distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember, glimmer’d ghostly on the floor:
Earnestly I wished the morrow; vainly had I sought to borrow
From my Bible ease of sorrow — sorrow for the lost Annore—
For a saintly, radiant matron, whom the angels name Annore
Lately wife, now wife no more.
She had passed the gloomy portals, which forever hide from mortals
Spirit myst’ries, which the living are most eager to explore.
Poring o’er the sacred pages, guides to all the good for ages,
Sat I, helped by lore of sages, when the rapping at my door,
Startled me as if a spirit had come to my chamber-door,
Tapping thus, and meaning more.
And the plaintive, low, uncertain rustling of each window-curtain
Thrill’d me— filled my quaking heart with terrors never felt before.
Is there, then, a life of glory, as we’re taught in sacred story?
Can this be some prophet hoary, standing at my chamber-door—
Prophet from the dead arisen, standing at my chamber-door—
Rapping thus, and meaning more?
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Truly, friend, I treat you badly, your forgiveness I implore;
Surely I have not been napping, but so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping — tapping at my chamber-door,
That I scarce knew what the sound meant” — here I opened wide the door:
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing,
Awe-struck, thinking thoughts few mortals ever happ’d to think before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken, was the whisper’d word, “Annore!”
This I whisper’d, and an echo murmur’d back the word “Annore!”
Merely this, and nothing more.
Back into my chamber hasting, anguish deeper still now tasting,
Soon again I heard a rapping — something louder than before.
Surely, thought I, that is something at my window-lattice;
Let me see, then, what there at is, and this mystery explore;—
Oh! my heart, be still a moment, till this mystery I explore;—
Is’t the wind, and nothing more?
Open here I flung the shutter, when with gentle nod and flutter,
In there came a gracious white dove of the saintly days of yore.
Then, as if obeisance made he, and no longer stopp’d or stay’d he,
But in innocence array’d, he perch’d above my chamber-door,—
Perch’d upon a bust of Paulus, just above my chamber-door—
Perch’d and sat, and nothing more.
Then this snowy bird surprising my sad heart into surmising,
Whether this was done at random, or some mystic meaning bore, —
“Surely,” said I, “thou art fairer than of ill to be the bearer,
Of such saintly guise the wearer, thou art from some heav’nly shore;
Wilt thou help me on my journey toward that bright celestial shore?”
Quoth the white dove, “Evermore!”
Startled now as one from dreaming, suddenly awak’d and seeming
To have heard a voice mysterious thrilling to his heart’s deep core,—
Ev’ry thought and feeling reaching after light and further teaching.
In attitude of one beseeching, gazed I at my chamber-door,—
At the bird, which had so aptly — perch’d upon my chamber-door—
Spoken out that ‘“Evermore!”
But the white dove’s aspect childly, and his soft eyes beaming mildly,
Loving looks, as if a full heart speedily he would outpour,
Led me to expect revealing, unto which my soul appealing,—
With a strange hope o’er me stealing, such as never came before,—
“May I look for peace and comfort such as I’ve ne’er felt before?”
And the bird said, “Evermore!”
So the bright bird thus beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheel’d a cushion’d chair in front of bird and bust and door;
Then upon the soft seat sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this holy bird of yore—
What this lovely, sweet, angelic, quaint, prophetic bird of yore—
Meant by saying, “Evermore?”
Thus I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing,
Till the calm light from those mild eyes seem’d to illume my bosom’s core;
Banishing all fear and sadness, bringing thither peace and gladness,
Driving out surmise of madness — lately coming o’er and o’er—
Madness casting dreadful shadow, — lately coming o’er and o’er—
Shadow deep’ning evermore!
Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer,
Swung by seraphim, whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Oh, my soul, thy God hath heard thee, by these angels and this bird He
Hath to sweetest hopes now stirr’d thee — hopes of finding thy Annore
In the far-off land of spirits — of reunion with Annore!”
Quoth the dove, “For evermore!”
“Prophet,” said I, “thing of glory! prophet, as in ancient story,
Whether sent from heaven directly, or by chance cast here ashore,
Blessings many on thee rest now! yea, thou surely shalt be blest now!
Come into my open’d breast now — tell me truly, I implore,
Is there a heaven of rest and rapture? tell me, tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the white bird, “Evermore!”
“Prophet,” said I, “thing of glory! prophet, as in ancient story,
By that Heav’n which bends above us — by the God the good adore,
Tell this soul with hope upspringing — faith undying to it bringing —
If that radiant matron singing midst the angels, named Annore,
Shall be mine again to love — the sainted matron, named Annore?”
And the dove said, “Evermore!”
“Be that word thy sign of dwelling in my heart, of to it telling
Messages of love and mercy from the far-off shining shore;
Let thy white plumes be a token of the truth thy soul hath spoken;
Keep my faith and hope unbroken; always perch above my door;
Keep thy eyes’ light in my heart; and keep thy form above my door;”
Quoth the sweet bird, “Evermore!”
And the white dove, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the polish’d bust of Paulus, just above my chamber-door;
And his eyes with kindness beaming, — holy spirit’s kindness seeming,—
And a soft light from him streaming, sheds its radiance on the floor;
And my glad soul in that radiance, that lies floating on the floor,
Shall be basking — Evermore!
The Reverend John W Scott, D.D., was a professor in the West Virginia University. “The Dove”, subtitled “A Sentimental Parody”, was written on the death of his wife, and appeared in The Brooklyn Eagle with a note from Walt Whitman, who praised its “its graceful spirit of Christianity”.
Return to the Quaint and Curious index for more pastiches and parodies of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”.