The Writer

November 1, 2013

Once upon a midnight dreary
While I was flying tired and bleary
Over some houses south of Baltimore,
Suddenly I saw a window glowing,
The only light the night was showing,
So I banked and headed to the house’s door.
Perching on that lighted pane,
Only partly shielded from the rain,
I looked with longing at the fire.
Though it seemed on the verge of dying
It was so long that I’d been flying
That its embers filled me with desire.
Against the window I started tapping,
Trying to wake a guy who was napping,
Hunched over in an elegant chair.
Then with a jump he opened his eyes,
Put out his hands and started to rise,
Scanning the room with a panicked stare.
He rose and passed a lady’s portrait on the wall
And went and opened a door into the hall.
"Idiot!" I croaked. "That didn’t come from the door!"
The guy was clearly freaking,
Possibly he was even tweaking,
Seeing darkness there and nothing more.
Then he turned and saw me quivering,
On his window ledge, cold and quivering,
Beaten by the rain and soaked to the skin.
The memory of it makes me sober,
How cold and damp it was that late October.
I was so grateful when he let me in
And closed the latch against the storm.
We considered each other, eye to eye,
Then I studied the room, should I decide to fly.
But he gave me some brandy, and I grew warm.
The air in the room was so dense and still
That when he spoke I was shocked and crapped on the sill.
Pleading, then angry, his manner filled me with dread.
Though there was nothing I understood of his speech
Still I was frightened and flew out of his reach
And perched upon a marble statue’s head.
He regarded me then with a strange sort of smile,
And sat back in his chair. Quieter now he spoke a little more.
Feeling we had established a strange rapport
I flitted and was happy to keep him company for a while.

(Translated from the original Corvus by Rufus Griswold)

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