This Week in Poetic History

Just for fun: we’re celebrating the lives of three poets that were changed this week in history, many years ago, and examining the curious ways one turn of events can change a legacy. Here are three world-altering events from three years in poetic history…

“The Raven” Is Born

Tenniel-TheRavenOn this day in 1845, Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” one of the best-known poems in the English language, was first published. But it was no easy feat getting it into print. Poe first submitted the poem his friend and owner of Graham’s Magazine George Rex Graham, who declined. He did, however, give Poe $15 out of what could best be described as pity. The poem was eventually bought by The American Review, for $9. Still, Poe was not yet to become the household name he would shortly be; the magazine printed it under the pseudonym “Quarles.”

It was in the Evening Mirror that the poem first appeared with Poe’s name beneath it. Thanks to this publication, Edgar Allen Poe and his “Raven” achieved Read the rest of this entry »


Quoth “The Raven”: It’s My Birthday! Poe’s Poem turns 168

raven

Yesterday marked the anniversary of  the publication Edgar Allan Poe‘s classic, creepy poem “The Raven.” Although there is some dispute, the first publication of the work is generally attributed to The New York Mirror.  The poem made Poe a star, but sadly, not a fortune.

In the poem, a raven continuously visits a man who has been unlucky in love. The object of his affections, a woman named “Lenore” has been lost to him evermore. The poem’s internal rhymes and alliteration, along with its spooky, supernatural content made its lines easy to remember and it soon became incredibly popular.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore —
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door —
Only this and nothing more.”

 to render it manifest that no one point in its composition is referrible [sic] either to accident or intuition — that the work proceeded, step by step, to its completion with the precision and rigid consequence of a mathematical problem.

Let us dismiss, as irrelevant to the poem per se, the circumstance — or say the necessity — which, in the first place, gave rise to the intention of composing a poem that should suit at once the popular and the critical taste.

Poe’s formula obviously worked, as it is still popular with both critics and the public alike to this day.

Feeling like you want a little fright? Take a listen to the perennially creepy Christopher Walken read the poem in its entirety:

walken_raven


“The Tell-Tale Heart” Animated, But Not for Children

The film that you are about to see is based on a story told a hundred years ago by America’s greatest writer of drama and suspense…

So begins the 1953 animated adaptation of Poe’s sinister masterpiece, “The Tell-Tale Heart.” In case its medium suggested at all that this might be one for the kiddies, the British Board of Film Censors was quick to brand this short film as the first X-rated cartoon in Britain’s cinematic history. Watch it in all its antiquated eeriness above. Just try not to hear your heart thump when you hear James Mason read the line

“But why will you say that I am mad?”


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