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

A Tory’s Dream

The Bedfordshire Mercury, Saturday Nov. 28, 1868, p. 5

Edgar Allan Poe’s Poem, Adapted

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a bill of lawyer agents, o’er which I’d often cursed and swore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some agent, curst,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this, and nothing more.”
Ah, distinctly I remember, it was a night in bleak November;
And I who’d hoped to be a Member,[1] had been kicked out the day before.
Listlessly I’d sought to borrow from my pipe surcease of sorrow;
From my pipe surcease of sorrow, as I lay upon the floor,—
When there came th’infernal rapping at my private chamber door,—
I puffed my pipe and swore.
“But,” said I, “I must be civil; offended agents are the devil.”
“Sir,” said I, “or dear Sir, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you!” Here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Back into the chamber turning—puffing my pipe which still was burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping—somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let me heart be still a moment and the mystery explore;—
’Tis the wind and nothing more.”
Open here I flung the shutter,—when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord of lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Dizzy[2] just above my chamber door—
Perched, and blinked, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
Soon it came into my fancy—the Bird may be a seer who can see
All that lies done in past ages, and all that’s still before.
“Tell me, O Raven,” then I murmured, “what thy name is on the dark Plutonian shore.”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon a sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such a name as “Nevermore.”
But the Raven sitting lonely on that placid bust spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered; not a feather then he fluttered;
I smoked my pipe and scarcely muttered—puffing, puffing more and more.
“I suppose he soon will leave me,—as other bores have fled before.”
Then the Bird said, “Nevermore.”
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Curse you,” said I, “Is that you utter all your verbal stock and store?”
“Tell me,” I cried, “thou Bird ungainly. If thou’rt a prophet, speak out plainly.
Tell me, thou ebony Bird, of omen, is there no brighter future coming
When the Tories shall again rule in the nation as they ruled of yore?”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
Then, methought, the air grew denser—darkened from an unseen censer
Swung by demons whose foot-falls pattered on the polished floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these demons he hath sent thee;
Thy work is done, and now relent thee; hie thee swiftly back to night’s Plutonian shore.
Prophet of lies, thou may’st content thee—Gladstone[3] shall fall and Dizzy rule as heretofore.”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
“Liar!” shrieked I, “thing of evil,—hear me, whether bird or devil!
Whether Tempter sent thee, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this cursed land enchanted,
On this land by d—d Rads[4] haunted—we will fight and win once more.
Tax, and rack, and screw the vermin, as we did in days of yore.”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
“Yes,” I added, “thing of evil—prophet false, if bird or devil!
By that heaven which bends above us—by the Being I adore—
Though my soul’s with sorrow loaded—though my mind with rage is goaded—
Though my hopes seem all exploded—my name shall top the poll once more!
Avaunt! curst Bird—that name shall ring through Bedford streets once more.”
Quoth the Raven, “Never more.”
“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend,” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! quit the bust above my door!
Take they beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting,
On the pallid bust of Dizzy, just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!

In 1868, the seats for Bedford were won by James Howard and Samuel Whitbread, both of the Liberal Party. Howard was already a Member of Parliament, whereas Whitbread was a gain for the party. Against them were the Conservatives Edward Loughlin O’Malley (1842–1932, knighted in 1891) and Frederick Charles Polhill-Turner (1826–1881). O’Malley, a lawyer and judge, (who rose to become Chief Justice of the British Supreme consular court in the Ottoman Empire before his retirement), made only this one attempt to become an MP. Polhill-Turner, the son of a former Bedford MP, had already failed to become MP for Bedford in April and June 1859, but eventually succeeded in 1874 (being ousted in 1880). In 1855, he became High Sheriff of Bedfordshire. The reference to “lawyer agents” in the first verse makes it seem O’Malley is the more likely narrator of this poem.


  1. Member — i.e., a Member of Parliament. (back to text)
  2. DizzyBenjamin Disraeli (1804–1881), Tory politician who became British Prime Minister upon the retirement of Lord Derby in 1868, then lost the position in that year’s general election. He became Prime Minister again in 1874. (back to text)
  3. GladstoneWilliam Ewart Gladstone (1809–1898), of the Liberal party, was voted in as Prime Minister on 3rd December 1868. (back to text)
  4. Rads — Radicals. (back to text)

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