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“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven,
thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven
wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
~ The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe, 1845
Published this day in 1845, Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven" brought this bird even further forward into the gothic consciousness with its pitiless and ominous message. Incorporated into the myths and folklore of many cultures for their cunning and intelligence, ravens have been both revered and feared as harbingers of ill fortune or as symbols of prophecy or insight. A number of Scottish place names contain the words ‘an Fhithich or ‘nam Fitheach’, meaning ‘of the ravens’. In Celtic Mythology, ravens figure prominently. Both Irish and Scots Bean Sidhes (Banshees) were said to take the form of ravens. Their calls from over the roof of a dwelling was considered to be an omen of death for the occupants! The Viking god, Odin, in contrast, had two less sinister ravens, Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory), which flew around the world every day and reported back to Odin every night. European cultures, in many instances saw ravens as a personification of evil spirits or the devil. As a result perhaps, a group of ravens is unkindly called an "unkindness." For all of their dark associations, ravens are one of the most intelligent animals, and have been observed playing by sliding down roofs, playing "keep away" with other animals, and making toys out of sticks, pinecones, and rocks! They also can imitate human speech, use a variety of "hand" signals with their beak, and roam around in teenage gangs! ✍️
"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 visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door —
Only this, and nothing more."
~ Edgar Allan Poe (The Raven)
This special tartan by Carol A.L. Martin, is designed for the raven, one of the designer's favourite birds who notes "Ravens are big, intelligent blue-black birds which often sit on top of a pole or high up in a tree and make particularly strange noises."
Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem was published on this day, 1845, in the New York Evening Mirror.
Poe’s dark and macabre work reflected his own tumultuous and difficult life, a life with a Scottish connection.
Born Edgar Poe in Boston in 1809, Poe was orphaned at age three and went to live with the family of a successful Scottish merchant (John Allan), residing in Richmond, Virginia.
The Allan family became his foster family and gave him the name Edgar Allan Poe, although he was never formally adopted.
His macabre works, often portraying motiveless crimes and intolerable guilt that induces growing mania in his characters, was a significant influence on such European writers as Charles Baudelaire, Stephane Mallarme, and even Dostoyevsky.
For more on Edgar Allan Poe's tragic story, click the raven. And for an animated version of Poe reading his famous poem, click here.