Sequel to “The Raven”
The Spiritual Herald Jul 1856 • longer version in Human Nature Oct 1870
Fires within my brain were burning;
Scorning life, despairing, yearning;
Hopeless, blinded in my anguish, through my body’s open door,
Came a Raven, foul and sable,
Like those evil birds of fable,
Downward swooping where the drooping spectres haunt the Stygian’s shore.
— Not a bird, but something more.
Ghosts of agonies departed,
Festering wounds that long had smarted,
Broken vows, returnless mornings, griefs and miseries of yore,
By some art revived. — Undaunted,
I gazed steadfast. — The enchanted,
Black, infernal Raven uttered a wild dirge-note evermore.—
Not a bird, but something more.
Gazing steady, gazing madly
On the bird, I spoke, and sadly
Broken down, too deep for scorning, sought for mercy to implore.
Turning to the bird, I blessed it;
In my bosom I caressed it;
Still it pierced my heart, and revelled in the palpitating gore;—
’Twas a bird, and something more.
I grew mad; the crowning fancies—
Black weeds they, not blooming pansies—
Made me think the bird a Spirit. — “Bird,” I cried, “be bird no more;
Take a shape; be man; be devil;
Be a snake; — rise from thy revel!
From thy banquet rise; — be human;
I have seen thee oft before;
Thou art bird and something more.
“Tapping, tapping, striking deeper,
Rousing Pain, my body’s keeper,
Thou hast oft ere while sought entrance at the heart’s great palace door;
Take they shape, O gloom demon,
Fiend or spirit, most inhuman;
Strike me through, but first unveiling, let me scan thee o’er and o’er—
Thou art bird, but something more.”
Still, with sable pinions flapping,
The great Raven, tapping, tapping,
Struck into my breast his talons; vast his wings outspread, and o’er
All my nature cast a pallor;
But I strove with dying valor,
With the poniard of repulsion striking through the form it wore;
Not a bird, and something more.
“Oh! thou huge, infernal Raven,
Image that Hell’s King hath graven,
Image growing more gigantic, nursed beyond the Stygian shore,
Leave me, leave me, I beseech thee,
I would not of wrong, impeach thee;”
I cried madly. — Then earth opened with a brazen earthquake roar—
’Twas a bird,—a Demon more.
Downward, downward, circling, speeding,
Cries of anguish still unheeding,
Striking through me with his talons, — still the Raven shape he bore,—
Unto Erebus we drifted;
His huge wings by thunder lifted,
Beat ’gainst drifts of white-flamed lightning, sprinkled red with human gore—
’Twas a bird, a Demon more.
“I’m no bird — an Angel, Brother,
A Bright Spirit and none other;
I have waited, blissful tended thee for thirty years and o’er;
In thy wild, illusive madness,
In thy blight, disease and sadness,
I have sounded, tapping, tapping, at thy Spirit’s Eden door:—
Not a bird, an Angel more!—
“Shining down with light Elysian
Through the pearly gate of vision,
On thy tranced soul-lighted fancy, when, across thy chamber-floor
Fell the Spirit-moonlight laden
With soft dews from trees in Aidenn,
Shaken downward — still nepenthe, drunk by dreaming bards of yore;—
Not a bird, an Angel more.
“In my Palmyrenian splendor,
In Zenobian regnance tender,
More than Roman, though Aurelian were the kingly name I bore;
I have left my angel-palace,
Dropping in thy sorrow’s chalice
Consolation. Oh! ’twas blessed, sweet, thy pillow to bend o’er;—
Not a bird, an Angel more.
“Ended is life’s mocking fever,
Where through citron groves for ever
Blow the spice-wind and the love-birds tell their raptures o’er and o’er,
From earth’s hell by afrits haunted,
From its evil, disenchanted,
I have borne thee; gaze upon me; didst thou see me ne’er before?
Not a fiend, an Angel more.”
And I wakened — if to waken
Be to dwell by grief, forsaken—
With the God who dwelt with angels in the shining age of yore.
And I stood sublime — victorious—
While below lay Earth, with glorious
Realms of Angels shining, crown-like — on her temples evermore—
Not a corpse — a Woman more.
“Earth,” I cried, “thy clouds are shadows
From the Asphodelian meadows
Of the sky-world floating downward — pearly rains that from them pour—
Love’s own Heaven — thy mother — bore thee;
And the Father — God bends o’er thee,
’Tis His hand that crowns thy forehead; thou shalt live for evermore—
Not on Earth — an Eden more.”
As a gem has many gleamings,
And a day hath many beamings,
And a garden many roses, filled with sweetness to the core;
So the soul hath many ages,
And the Life-Book many pages,
But the Heart’s great Gospel opens where the Seraphim adore:
Not a Heart — Love’s Angel more.
I will write a book hereafter,
Cheerful as a baby’s laughter
When its mother’s breast o’erleans it, on the sainted spirit-shore;
Like Apollo, the far darter,
I, the Poet and the martyr,
Will chant paeans of soul-music that shall live for evermore,
Not a fiend — a Brother more!
R Allston Lavender, Jr. believed he was, at times, possessed by the spirit of Poe, who would dictate poems to him. On its appearance in The Spiritual Herald, the poem was accompanied by a letter from “Poe”:
My design, in this production, has been to embody, in Poetic drapery, the secret of my life. Being from my cradle a haunted man, conscious of more than human presence, and unable, from physiological and mental perversions, to analyze its essence, I grew morbid and melancholy.
This influence was that of my good guardian. Supernal visions, elevating and inspiring, descended from him to me. These visions became distorted in their descent. I wrote under Spiritual inspiration. My mediatorial condition was imperfect. I misapprehended and misinterpreted the Spiritual truth; hence the gloomy, misanthropic character of my productions.
I left the body to recover sanity; and then, in that mysterious, etherial, ideal world, discovered the pain-producing, vision-creating influence, operative in me in my earth-life, to have been, not demoniacal, but celestial.
Pity the man of genius. Madness itself, when accompanied with any degree of physical comfort, is Eden in comparison to the growth-pains of a mind, living in the unconscious violation of the Spirit's Law; forced to the rack of mental exertion to purchase bread; unable to compete with men of the world; crushed by unfeeling avarice; inly, vainly striving through all despair to give birth to deathless inspirations. — I have but partially expressed myself.
R Allston Lavender, Jr. was held, for a time, at the lunatic asylum in Raleigh, N.C.
Return to the Quaint and Curious index for more pastiches and parodies of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”.