AVIAN INSPIRATION

“The Raven” was first published in the New York Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845, and would come to define the morbid brilliance of its author Edgar Allan Poe. You can read a bit about his inspiration for this work in ‘The Philosophy of Composition’, published in an 1846 edition of Graham’s Magazine. There Poe divulged some interesting information about his inspiration for The Raven and I was thoroughly bemused to see it was indeed – a PARROT! In regards to the pretext required for the continuous use of the one word “nevermore.” Poe wrote: 

“In observing the difficulty which I at once found in inventing a sufficiently plausible reason for its continuous repetition, I did not fail to perceive that this difficulty arose solely from the pre-assumption that the word was to be so continuously or monotonously spoken by a human being — I did not fail to perceive, in short, that the difficulty lay in the reconciliation of this monotony with the exercise of reason on the part of the creature repeating the word. Here, then, immediately arose the idea of a non -reasoning creature capable of speech; and, very naturally, a parrot, in the first instance, suggested itself, but was superseded forthwith by a Raven, as equally capable of speech, and infinitely more in keeping with the intended tone.”

I think many Poe fans who share our lives with these intelligent feathered creatures have had the notion that a parrot could have inspired Poe to write the poem. Living with these glorious creatures one certainly knows avian inspiration exists. To this, I can attest. That being said, behold my beloved “raven” who is coming up on his 24th year, all of them spent rapping at my chamber door.

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