Quoth the Raven “Never More” March 7, 2007Posted by jak in Creative Writing, Life, Poem, Poetry, Writing.
165 years ago two fateful literary giants casually explored literary theory in letters to one another.
These two men were Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Dickens. In one letter, dated March 6, 1842, Dickens influenced Poe by informing him of the interesting practice of writing a poem backwards, or writing the last stanza first.
Apropos of the “construction” of “Caleb Williams,” do you know that Godwin wrote it backwards, — the last volume first, — and that when he had produced the hunting down of Caleb, and the catastrophe, he waited for months, casting about for a means of accounting for what he had done? [Source]
Poe can easily be described as a deep, dark, depressing writer, but many are unaware of his genius. He had emphatic believes about literature and how it should be composed. He felt poetry should be for poetry sake and never for moral lessons. And he adopted the practice of writing poems backwards. Many of his most famous poems had their last stanza composed first. Poe also composed brilliant detective stories and was the inspiration of modern newspapers provided ciphered messages today. He began the practice in reverse, inviting anyone to provide him with an encoded message for him to decipher. A plublicity stunt that went a long way to win him prestige in his day.
I share all this info, because Poe has always been a hero to me. His work struck a cord with me from an early age and in high school I was lucky enough to rescue an old volume of his life’s work from a local library before it was thrown out. It is still one of my most treasured books. The intelligence that shines through the darkness of his writing is truly is truly inspirational to me as a writer. I aspire to attain a small percentage of his ability to hook the reader into a story.
And on an entertaining note I leave you with the Raven, as recited by Christopher Walken, a strange and yet appropriate pair.
And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted — nevermore!
Not complete, but nice. You can find other full versions of this audio on youtube or buy the album from amazon.