after Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”

__Once upon an evening dreary, I searched for news, at least in theory,
Over many a dubious and mendacious channel that I abhor—
__While I surfed, nearly barfing, suddenly there came a harping,
__There was someone roughly berating, berating everything I stand for.
“‘Tis some moron,” I muttered, “blabbing on this channel poor-
____Only this and nothing more.”

__Ah, distinctly I remember, it was such-and-so “News Center”;
And each separate vying member wrought opinion upon the floor.
__Eagerly I wished for pausing;— a painful headache it was causing
__From incessant babbling — babbling for the lost tenor—
For the rare and radiant moment which the ratings most adore—
____Stop them falling through the floor.

__And the speakers – strangely certain, rushing to get a bit of dirt in
Chilled me—filled me with revulsions never felt before;
__So that now, to still the pounding in my head, I sat entreating
__“No more pundits spewing senseless manure!
Another useless pundit spewing senseless manure!—
____I can’t take this anymore.”

__Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” tweet I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
__But the fact is I was watching, and so rashly you kept talking,
__And so loudly you kept talking, talking about ideas I deplore,
I checked for sure I heard you right — is this what you stand for?”
____Bias there and nothing more.

__Deep into that bias sinking, long their logic twisting, resisting,
Any reasoned idea a mortal ever dared to have before;
__But with platitudes unbroken, not a reasoned word was spoken,
__And requests for balance, at least token, was retorted with “What for?”
I asked for fairness, and an echo murmured back to me, “What for?”—
____Merely this and nothing more.

__Back into the channels tuning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard gums flapping even louder than before.
__“Surely,” said I, “surely this is something worth watching;
__Let me see, then, if not CNN, this other station to explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this station to explore;—
____’Tis MSNBC and nothing more!”

__Over there I flung the remote, my annoyance thus to denote,
I was now a captive watcher, on that station evermore;
__Not a single dial on the TV, no button from which this channel to flee,
__But, with mien of lord or lady, perched at a desk without a drawer—
Perched at a desk, but we can’t see the floor—
____Sat the anchor, and nothing more.

__Then this anchor, never smiling, always papers shuffling and piling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
__“With thy head so shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no maven,
__Ghastly grim, as though the whole world was at war—
Tell me when some positive news you will finally explore!”
____Quoth the anchor “Nevermore.”

__Much I marveled this ungainly crier to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
__For I cannot help agreeing that we should all be fleeing
__This anchor I was seeing, welcome as a cold sore—
Opinions as deep and thoughtful as a college sophomore,
____I wish to see it nevermore.

__But the anchor, sitting lonely at the placid desk, spoke only
But one word, as if its soul in that one word it did outpour.
__We would all be ushered, to the truth in one word: “Russia”—
__As if holding fast the key that could feed and clothe all the world’s poor—
When oh when will you stop speaking, when oh when say it no more?
____Quoth the anchor: “Nevermore.”

__But the anchor still jolting all my brain cells to revolting,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat to block the eyesore;
__Then, with continued hearing, my ears were nearly bleeding,
__Repeating “Russia Russia Russia,” I wondered what for—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt Babylonian whore
____Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

__And the anchor, still chattering, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid Farnsworth tube, set on a stand from the store;
__And its eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
__And the LED o’er it streaming throws its shadow on the floor;
In some other soul’s TV room, not mine anymore,
____I shall be watching—nevermore!

 

Steven Shaffer’s other art form is computer code, which supports his poetry habit. He lives in a suburb of the middle of nowhere in central Pennsylvania with his wife and two dogs. His blog is My So-Called Civilization 

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10 Responses

  1. Steven C Shaffer

    It occurred to me during a recent trip to Baltimore that the poem The Raven had a lot to say about my feelings about recent events. So, here is a modified version, with many many apologies to the author. As you can see, I was unable to quite keep up the pace throughout (which is why Poe is a master and I am not); I think there are some good parts in here, I think it would be fun if people suggested some stanzas and/or suggest changes to others.

    Reply
  2. Amy Foreman

    Hi, Steven. I really liked the idea behind this poem, and since you opened it up for feedback, I got two of my sons to brainstorm with me on some of the meters and rhymes. Here’s what we came up with. Hope it holds true to the point you were making and rolls along smoothly: 🙂

    Once upon an evening dreary, while I searched, at least in theory
    Over many a dubious and mendacious channel I abhor—
    While I listened, nearly barfing, suddenly there came a harping,
    As of someone loudly carping, carping I could not ignore.
    “‘Tis some imbecile,” I muttered, “babbling on this channel poor-
    Only this and nothing more.”

    Ah, distinctly I remember, it was on the fake “News Center;”
    And each separate, vying member wrought opinion on the floor.
    Eagerly I wished for pausing;— painful headache it was causing
    From their vain, incessant babbling — babbling, yapping more and more—
    Hoping each for radiant moments which the ratings most adore—
    So their viewership would soar.

    And the speakers – strangely certain, rushed to get their bit of dirt in,
    Chilled me—filled me with revulsion I have never felt before;
    So that now, to still the pounding in my head, I sat entreating,
    “No more pundits (please!) excreting senseless garbage on my floor,
    Senseless garbage spewed by pundits so successful heretofore.
    I can’t take this anymore.”

    Presently, my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
    “Sir,” I tweeted, “Sir or Madam, your forgiveness I implore,
    But the fact is, I was watching, and so rashly you kept talking,
    And so loudly you kept talking of ideas I deplore,
    That I wanted to be certain what your agency stands for.”
    Bias here and nothing more.

    Deep into that bias sinking, not a one of them was thinking
    Any reasoned thought a mortal ever dared to think before;
    And with platitudes unbroken, no coherent word was spoken,
    Calls for balance, even token, were replied to with “What for?”
    No more fairness, just their echo hissing back to me, “What for?”—
    Merely this and nothing more.

    Back into the channels turning, all my soul within me burning,
    Soon again, I heard gums flapping even louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely something must be worth my time this evening;
    Let me forego CNN, another station to explore—
    Let my heart be still a moment: here’s a station to explore;—
    “NBC and nothing more!”

    Now enraged, I flung the clicker, my annoyance growing thicker,
    I was now a captive watcher on that station evermore;
    Not a single channel changer, or a network rearranger,
    Just, with mien of lord or lady, perched upon that shiny floor—
    Evermore pontificating, perched at desk without a drawer—
    Sat the anchor, nothing more.

    And the anchor, never smiling, with her papers shuffling, piling,
    Marked by grave and stern demeanor on the countenance she wore,
    “With thy head so shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no maven,
    Ghastly grimly reading news, as though the whole world were at war—
    Tell me when some cheerful story you will finally explore!”
    Quoth the anchor “Nevermore.”

    Much I marveled this ungainly pundit to discourse so plainly,
    Though the answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
    For I could not help agreeing that, indeed, I should be fleeing
    From this anchor I was seeing, whose opinions made me snore—
    Rhetoric as deep and thoughtful as an average sophomore,
    Could I listen? Nevermore.

    But the anchor, sitting lonely at the placid desk, spoke only
    But one word, as if her soul in that one word, it did outpour.
    We would all be quickly ushered, to the truth in one word: “Russia”—
    As if Russia held the key to feed and clothe the poorest poor—
    When, oh when, will you stop speaking, when, oh when, say it no more?
    Quoth the anchor: “Nevermore.”

    Now the anchor still kept jolting all my brain cells to revolting,
    Straight, I wheeled a cushioned seat to shield my mind from the eyesore;
    But with never-ending hearing, my poor ears were nearly bleeding,
    “Russia” still she kept repeating, while I wondered just what for—
    What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, ghoulish Babylonian whore
    Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

    And that anchor, never quitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
    On the pallid Farnsworth tube I purchased at the discount store;
    And her eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
    And the brightness o’er her streaming throws her shadow on the floor
    In some other soul’s TV room, and not mine, not anymore,
    For I’ll watch her, nevermore!

    Reply
  3. Steve Shaffer

    Hi Amy- You’ve woven things together so well, I’ll have to go line by line to see what’s yours vs. mine!

    What I think would be fun is to get others to chime in, and then I’ll put out an edited version with everyone credited. Sort of an experiment in crowd sourced classic poetry. 🙂

    Reply
  4. David Watt

    Very funny, and so true that the same old tired themes keep playing on the T.V. news. Keep up the great work.

    Reply

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