November 29, 2007


Caption: From a 1513 woodcut by Albrecht Duerer. Ride, boldly ride, if you seek El Dorado.

Welcome to Edgar Allan Poe Week at Goat Rope. In addition to comments and links about current events, it's all Poe all the time this week. If this is your first visit, please click on earlier posts.

As mentioned yesterday, Ralph Waldo Emerson once referred to Poe as "the jingle-man." He had a point. Poe's poems were kind of obsessed with meter and can have an effect somewhere between hypnotic and irritating.

While some, like say The Conqueror Worm, are just kind of weird and gross, others hold up pretty well.

Here's El Cabrero's selection of Poe's Greatest Poetic Hits:

*The Raven. A perennial favorite. Here's the first stanza for old time's sake:

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 someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
" 'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door;
Only this, and nothing more."

Once, when I was bored at a meeting, I wrote a parody of it with a little help from a friend (you know who you are, E.D.) as it might have been performed by Snoop Dogg. Alas, the manuscript has been lost. As a consolation prize, here's a cool interactive Raven website.

*Eldorado. This poem about a knight so bold was published in 1849 and was probably inspired by the California gold rush. I still like these lines:

"Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,"
The shade replied-
"If you seek for Eldorado!"

*Annabel Lee. Poe had a major thing for beautiful dead women. This one goes out to anyone who has ever loved with a love that was more than love.

*The Bells. This is the jingle man at his most jingly. The late folk singer Phil Ochs did a really good musical version of this if you can find it.

And here's a bonus feature. In 1846, Poe wrote an essay titled "The Philosophy of Composition," which was really about how he wrote The Raven. It's unintentionally funny since he attempts to present the poem as the work of simple deductive reasoning. As he explained it, melancholy and death are the ideal subjects for poetic beauty and nothing could be more melancholy than the death of a beautiful and beloved woman. QED.

Everybody got that?

THE RACE IS ON between wages and inflation, but it looks like inflation is coming out ahead, according to the latest Economic Policy Institute snapshot.


THAT'S A RELIEF...Rush Limbaugh, international science expert, says there's nothing to climate change.

NEW NOTES. Here's the latest edition of Jim Lewis' Notes from Under the Fig Tree.

PERSONALS. SS, thanks for the Poe action figure! RC from Milton, thanks for the raven--Poe forever!--and watch out for Mean the Shark!


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