Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Raven and Mrs. Poe: A Book Reflection Part 1

I sat on my big meadow-patterned chair in the sun room and opened up my latest borrowed library book, Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen, a novel recommended to me by my pen pal, Katrina. The cover sparked my interest, the ornate, golden arch and partial image of this elegant-looking woman (which is "Woman's Face" by Chris Tobin according to the book jacket credits). Rather than describing it in any more words, I'll post a picture.

The novel opens with "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe. Although I've read this poem before in my school days, I hoped I was wrong about my memory of it, that I would get something more out of it today, that it would end on a happier note. 

I read it aloud to myself while grackles cackled on the rain-drenched lawn, and I felt the piercing sadness and hopelessness of its final lines. Even poems that don't have much deep wisdom or truth to them can still startle, terrify, or fascinate us. From what I've read about Poe, he didn't intend to write the poem to teach a great truth about the world through allegory. Instead, he wanted to strike us with a strange, gothic image, such as a talking raven. 

The narrative poem brings to mind the desolate feeling of hopelessness and loneliness, a mood that can seem endless to the person who is stuck inside it. And yet, the beauty of well-chosen words (for the writer and reader alike) is a balm for the suffering. Reading this poem renewed my interest in traditional form poetry, even if I found it to be a downer.

Oh, and a grackle (not a raven) came to visit after I finished it. It landed on the bulkhead roof, looked in through the kitchen window with a dark, gleaming eye, and flew off all flustered. If it wasn't for the comfort of Jesus, a positive mind, and a giving up on creating meaning through unconnected events, I might still be scared. Isn't it funny how certain creatures scare us, while others bring delight, mainly by their appearance and sound? Anyway, I really like seeing fluffy little bunnies hopping around my yard.

Mrs. Poe begins with strong lyrical prose, and whether or not it's historically accurate, it is entertaining and absorbing thus far. I will most likely post a reflective review of it, a type of post I'd like to do more of in the future, when I am finished.

Post thoughts on "The Raven," Poe, or whatever else below. :)

10 comments:

  1. Oh the grackles. They are a thorn in my side, stealing food, nesting where they shouldn't and most annoying--the noisiness. But they are God's creatures and have their place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The grackles are everywhere! But you are right, they're God's creatures, even if they can be big bullies. I think this is their breeding season.

      Delete
  2. I have a tendency towards very dark writing, but try to balance it out with a little comedy. How do you think a proper Christian fellow, trying to be a light unto the world should handle this?

    I don't know. I'm kind of lost as a writer at the moment. Trying to remember how I resolved my "identity crisis" as a teen to see if there's a formula applicable to this situation. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jack, you're not alone in the identity crisis thing! I think I have a different one every day. That is a very good question you've raised. I think it's okay to read some slightly darker things, but know the truth of Christ and that His saving grace has the final say. Pain and sadness are real in this world, but they will be overcome by God in His future kingdom. Best wishes.

      Delete
  3. I am glad to read your posts again. :)

    This seems like a great reading selection and I like your reflections on Poe's well-known poem. I always hear Marissa Nadler's music when I think of his writing. Maybe it is because she wrote a song from Annabel Lee and I listened to that a lot. They both are haunting artists. :)
    I would enjoy reading your review posts in the future. You seem to have a way of capturing the essence of literature and placing it into words that others can relate to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Erika! I'll have to check out that Marissa Nadler song you mentioned. I really like her album, songs iii: bird on water.

      Delete
  4. I love how "The Raven" is rhythmic, almost melodic, from beginning to end. There is a magnificent recording by Basil Rathbone, on YouTube. Overall, I appreciate Poe's writings more for the tradition than their substance. Like you mention, Poe doesn't leave the reader with any reassurance, not even a sense of individuality, which is particularly tragic.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have not read The Raven, or any other works by Poe. He's one of those writers who I always intended to read, but never got around to. I'm not even sure if I will ever read him. The gothic used to appeal to me greatly, but then I was in a darker place myself, and now I have moved far beyond that, and actively seek light.

    Hope you are well, Jade. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi B!

      I know just what you mean. I never really got into gothic writing in the past, though some 'cute' and interesting ghost stories are kind of fun. Now that I am reading more, sometimes I land upon a darker subject.

      Thanks for your comment; I'm very happy to hear from you! I see you've posted, so I am off to your blog.

      Delete