Thursday, January 29, 2009

For my dark and stormy friends

It was on this day in 1845 that Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" was first published in the New York Evening Mirror. It begins:

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."

Poe became famous almost immediately. Within a few years, "The Raven" had been reprinted in newspapers and magazines across the country, and included in poetry anthologies. Poe became a popular lecturer and dinner party performer, where his recitations of the poem were legendary.

"The Raven" became the target of many parodies. Abraham Lincoln, a country lawyer at the time, read a parody before he read the real thing. Lincoln eventually committed all of "The Raven" to memory.

Lifted from The Writer's Almanac

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