I recently was lent a copy of The Diamond Age, a novel by Neal Stephenson which explores a fantasy-like future in which nanotechnology and cultural constructs reign supreme. It was in this unlikely (and thoroughly enjoyable) bundle of pages that I found an intriguing poem – “The Raven” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whom I had studied in my grade twelve Literature class.
As you can likely tell by the title of this post, the poem struck a chord with me. The following composition is based on Coleridge’s “The Raven”, with my own ideas thrown in for good measure.
Underneath a stout walnut tree
There was of swine a great company.
They grunted as they crunched the wood,
Which, not long after, no longer stood.
Then they ran away, their reasons unknown:
One nut they left, in the dust all alone.
Along came a Crow, who liked not such folly:
He belonged, they did say, to the witch, Melancholy!
Darker was he than darkest night,
Flew low in the rain, untouched by its might.
He picked up the walnut and buried it where
A river met earth and fire and air.
Where did the Crow go?
He went far and wide.
From the east to the west did the black Crow glide.
Many seasons, many days
Travelled he over wandering ways
Many burdens, many quails –
I can’t tell half his wondrous tales.
At length he returned, and with him a she,
and the walnut was grown to a tall walnut tree.
They built a nest on the highest branch,
Had young ones hatch like a black avalanche.
But soon came a craftsman with a face soft and kind,
A false duty to life entrenched in his mind.
He’d a saw in his hand and was tough as can be,
His words came in grunts and his saw went scree-scree.
At length he brought down the poor walnut tree.
The crow’s young were killed; for they could not depart,
And their mother fell dead of a broken heart.
The craftsman stripped the wood from the tree,
And floated it down to a mill by the sea.
Without a stray thought for the Crow and his spouse,
He built the wood into a grand bird-house.
The bird-house was hung from an oak that nearby stood.
Small birds did there flock and find shelter and food,
But the Crow flew to see the craftsman’s creation
The irony apparent in the Crow’s devastation:
He cawed to the sky, giving voice to his woes
Til they came to assist him – a murder of crows!
The crows stormed the bird-house, dispensing their fury
And death came to claim many birds from that flurry.
The Crow cawed at death, recognizing no defeat:
For he’d taken what he’d lost, and Irony it was sweet!
Image: Photo showing part of “Conspiracy of Ravens”, a sculpture by John McKinnon located in the Haliburton Sculpture Forest. Info about the sculpture can he found here.