“The Raving” (by Edgar Allan Poet)

Poe’s “Raven” has been the subject of many parodies. Henry Beard in his book Poetry for Cats has one titled “The End of the Raven.” In high school I wrote a much less accomplished version with a gym-teacher antagonist badgering a sleepyhead teenager to “Go to school.” Here’s a more recent take-off from my collection of metapoems. It could use some polishing, but I post it nonetheless, since it may be a long while before the revision muse comes knocking. Peace to your ♥ !

 The Raving (by Edgar Allan Poet)

Once upon a midnight silent, while I slept, there came a violent
Summons, as though a muse stood by my bedside.
While I wondered, somewhat shaken, if I had been mistaken,
The summons came once more, intensified.

As far as I can remember, it was the second of December,
And I felt a draft of chilly air brush past my hand.
Disturbed, I groped for pad and pen, only to find I had
Forgotten to put them on the nightstand.

The thought of leaving bed filled me with the deepest dread
So that instead I thought to memorize each verse,
But though I kept repeating and repeating and repeating,
It was more than I could easily rehearse.

Presently the room grew colder; becoming then a trifle bolder,
“Muse,” I said, “It pains me to ignore you.
Since I was already snoozing when you came to do your musing,
Could you return when it is morning? I implore you.”

A quarter-hour I waited, stalling; a quarter-hour the muse kept calling,
Till I feared I would go mad if it persisted.
“Muse,” I cried, “Unwelcome guest! Disturber of much-needed rest!
Scat! Vamoose! Begone!” Still the muse insisted.

At last I could no longer bear it; despite the freezing air it
Must be done. Grudgingly I set foot upon the floor,
Grumbling all the while at this queer nocturnal trial,
And with pad and pen returned, colder than before.

Not a minute did I waste but, shivering, wrote with haste,
Distressed to see how soon it would be light.
At last, the muse’s summons lifted, into a fitful sleep I drifted
And woke oppressed by ghastly memories of the night.

Feeling exhausted and ill-used, yet appreciating still
The fact I had some poetry to show for it,
With a trembling hand, each page of verse I scanned
And found I could not read a single bit.

Now my wrath was piqued—“Unfair! Unfair!” I shrieked.
With all my strength I threw the tablet at the door.
Though a muse might come moonlighting, I would do no midnight writing
In the cold and bleak December—NEVERMORE!


Sometimes I know what book I’m looking for at the library, and sometimes I scan the shelves hoping to find something good, with varying results. Poetry for Cats: The Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse, which I stumbled across at my local library, proved so enjoyable, I bought myself a used copy, given to Meg with love from Joanne and Bob (“May you spend many happy hours curled up in front of the fire reading this”). Thank you, Meg. Your trash is my treasure.

In this anthology, Henry Beard parodies well-known poems, each one “written” by the poet’s cat from a cat’s point of view. John Donne’s cat gives us “Vet, Be Not Proud” while William Carlos Williams’s cat offers up “The Yellow Goldfish.” How Beard managed to successfully parody 39 poems, I’ll never know. I do know that I crack up whenever I read the line “Short-haired Hrodent-slayer” (“Grendel’s Dog,” from Beocat, by the Old English Epic’s Unknown Author’s Cat, Modern English verse translation by the Editor’s Cat). I suspect that majoring in English in college has something to do with it.

It appeared at one time that our cat Buddy had poetic aspirations, but nothing has come of it, for him at least. For me the occasion inspired the following poem. Peace to your ♥ !


Over the keyboard Buddy goes.
Composing what? Cat only knows.
He typed a string of p’s and o’s
That I would label pawful prose.

But what if he meant p-o-e?
Or even (yes!) p-o-e-t?
If paws were hands, this cat could be
The feline Poe of poetry.

© Stephanie Malley