Saturday, September 24, 2016

Quoth the Parrot “Nevermore”

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.”

We learned probably as children that there was a raven tapping at Edgar Allan Poe's chamber door. Only this and nothing more. But it might have been a parrot.

Poe originally considered featuring a parrot in his classic poem, because of course, parrots can talk. The parrots that Poe would have known and admired in the early 19th century would have been exotic and colorful macaws brought back by mariners from South America or bright white cockatoos from Australia and the South Pacific. Neither would have been appropriate for the dark and mournful mood Poe wanted to set for the poem.

Our Blue and Gold macaw parrot Aboo, too loud, colorful and boisterous for a dark poem

Goffin's Cockatoo Kid Kadra, too loud, boisterous, and bright; and an outright juvenile delinquent

Not black. Not dark. Not mournful. So Poe decided to feature a raven instead. Black. Mournful. And best of all for Poe, ravens also can talk. As Charles Dickens demonstrated in Barnaby Rudge, a book Poe read and admired. Thus the raven quoth "nevermore".

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