The Wordsmith and The Raven

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171 years ago today, The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe was first published. The perceptive among you have most likely already come to the conclusion that the name of this blog is in tribute to that poem; quoth the raven, quoth the wordsmith.

This has always been one of my favorite pieces from Poe. The rhythm is pure perfection with the words fitting snugly together without any jagged edges or awkward pauses. Even if you aren’t a fan of the meaning, you can appreciate the pure artistry that went into crafting this masterpiece.

The first line, “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,” is the writing equivalent of a master-crafted sword. The rhyme and rhythm lend themselves to an effortless pace, letting the reader recite the prose the way it should be without having to try. It makes even the most stilted and awkward reader sound like a bard of old.

And it’s all because Poe pieced the words together in such a way that they read beautifully no matter how you say them. I can’t even imagine how long it took to write the entire poem, since there are so many lines like it within the full work. The vocabulary it would take to write something like this is baffling alone, especially seeing as it was made during a time when you couldn’t just Google “what rhymes with Lenore”.

As a writing exercise, as well as a small tribute to the man who sparked my penchant for prose, I decided to challenge myself to rewrite a small part of the poem:

Once upon an “edits day” dreary, while I right-clicked, weak and weary,
Over many a dull and lifeless lines of Calibri; page 90 of 324—
   While I backspaced, nearly crying, suddenly there came a sighing,
As of a laptop gently dying, dying without a save, I’m sure.
“It will recover,” I muttered, “feeling anxious to the core—
          I think I remember it has before.”

   Then this soft and distant voice reminded me I’ll have no choice,
But to edit it all again if it doesn’t back-up or restore,
   “Quiet, self!” I did decree, “Surely it’s just a myth,
you’re computer skills certainly aren’t that poor!
Tell me I’ll learn this time for sure?!”
         Quoth the Wordsmith, “It’s your not ‘you’re’.”

I thought this would take a few minutes, but it took me nearly an hour. If you’re a fan of Poe, I encourage you to join me in celebrating The Raven‘s publishing anniversary by leaving a few lines of your own.

Here’s to Poe, and all those who inspire us. May your words live forever!

I’ll be on Facebook until next time.

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3 thoughts on “The Wordsmith and The Raven

  1. Not the best effort you’ll see, but here it is
    Once upon a morning early
    While I snoozed the alarm, surly
    Over and over back to that dream curious
    That i was forgetting fast
    And then I dozed till suddenly awake
    To find it hours after daybreak
    And my phone is now ringing
    But my sleepiness still clinging
    I’ll get to work soon I muttered
    Soon I’ll awake, just a bit longer-
    Five minutes and nothing more”

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