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

The Gazelle

The Evening Mirror (New York) Apr 29 1845

Far from friends and kindred wandering, in my sick and sad soul pondering,
Of the changing chimes that float, from Old Time’s ever-swinging bell,
While I lingered on the mountain, while I knelt me by the fountain,
By the clear and crystal fountain, trickling through the quiet dell;
Suddenly I heard a whisper, but from whence I could not tell,
Merely whispering, “Fare thee well.”
From my grassy seat uprising, dimly in my soul surmising,
Whence that voice so gently murmuring, like a faintly sounded knell,
Nought I saw while gazing round me, while that voice so spell-like bound me,
While that voice so spell-like bound me— searching in that tranquil dell,
Like hushed hymn of holy hermit, heard from his dimly-lighted cell,
Merely whispering, “Fare thee well!”
Then I stooped once more, and drinking, heard once more the silvery tinkling,
Of that dim mysterious utterance, like some fairy harp of shell—
Struck by hand of woodland fairy, from her shadowy home and airy,
In the purple clouds and airy, floating o’er that mystic dell,
And from my sick soul its music seemed all evil to expel,
Merely whispering, “Fare thee well!”
Then my book at once down flinging, from my reverie up springing,
Searched I through the forest, striving my vain terror to dispel,
All things to my search subjecting, not a bush or tree neglecting,
When behind a rock projecting, saw I there a white gazelle,
And that soft and silvery murmur, in my ear so slowly fell,
Merely whispering, “Fare thee well!”
From its eye so mildly beaming, down its cheek a tear was streaming,
As though in its gentle bosom dwelt some grief it could not quell,
Still those words articulating, still that sentence ever prating,
And my bosom agitating as upon my ear it fell,
That most strange, unearthly murmur, acting as a potent spell,
Merely uttering, “Fare thee well!”
Then I turned, about departing, when she from her covert starting,
Stood before me while her bosom seemed with agony to swell,
And her eye so mildly beaming, to my aching spirit seeming,
To my wildered spirit seeming, like the eye of Isabel.
But, oh! that which followed after — listen while the tale I tell—
Of that snow-white, sweet gazelle.
With her dark eye backward turning, as if some mysterious yearning
In her soul to me was moving, which she could not thence expel,
Through the tangled thicket flying, while I followed panting, sighing,
All my soul within me dying, faintly on my hearing fell,
Echoing mid the rocks and mountains rising round that fairy dell,
Fare thee, fare thee, fare thee well!
Now at length she paused and laid her, underneath an ancient cedar,
When the shadowy shades of silence, from the day departing fell,
And I saw that she was lying, trembling, fainting, weeping, dying,
And I could not keep from sighing, nor from my sick soul expel
The memory that those dark eyes raised — of my long lost Isabel.
Why, I could not, could not tell.
Then I heard that silvery singing, still upon my ear ’tis ringing,
And where once beneath that cedar, knelt my soft-eyed sweet gazelle,
Saw I there a seraph glowing, with her golden tresses flowing,
On the perfumed zephyrs blowing, from Eolus’ mystic cell
Saw I in that seraph’s beauty, semblance of my Isabel,
Gently whispering, “Fare thee well!”
“Glorious one,” I cried, upspringing, “art thou joyful tidings bringing,
From the land of shadowy visions, spirit of my Isabel?
Shall thy coming leave no token? Shall there no sweet word be spoken?
Shall thy silence be unbroken, in this ever blessed dell?
Whilst thou nothing, nothing utter, but that fatal, ‘Fare thee well!’”
Still it answered, “Fare thee well!”
“Speak! oh, speak to me bright being! I am blest thy form in seeing,
But shall no sweet whisper tell me, — tell me that thou lovest still?
Shall I pass from earth to heaven, without sign or token given,
With no whispered token given— that thou still dost love me well?
Give it, give it now, I pray thee — here within this blessed dell.”
Still that hated “Fare thee well.”
Not another word expressing, but her lip in silence pressing,
With the vermeil-tinted finger seeming silence to compel,
And while yet in anguish gazing, and my weeping eyes upraising,
To the shadowy, silent seraph, semblance of my Isabel,
Slow she faded, till there stood there, once again the white gazelle,
Faintly whispering, “Fare thee well!”

C C Cooke was a young Virginian poet, who died at a very early age. Poe himself read the poem, commenting (in The Broadway Journal, May 10 1845): “It is the composition of a mere boy of fifteen, C C Cooke, and, although professedly an imitation of ‘The Raven,’ has a very great deal of original power.”

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