Edgar Allan Poe--The Bells and The Bird

So, whaddaya think of this Poe guy? Kinda a gloomy gus, huh?:wink:

Some of Poe’s scary stories still provide the sound effects and props for certain of my nightmares (i.e., the beating ofthe Tell-Tale Heart and the bricks of The Cask of Amontillado).

We used to play a drinking game at parties of seeing how far we could get through a group recitation of The Raven. (Shouldn’t it be a Rule that if your poem becomes a drinking game you get to be an immortal poetry god?)

And I seem to recall some controversy over whether The Bells is a great rhythmic thriller or a mess of rhymes that don’t.

My judgment: the stories are horror archetypes and will likely be remembered for a very long time (they haunt me), while the poetry is no great shakes, with the exception of The Raven and the Bells–I’ve remembered these since the first time I’ve read them. They’ve got that elemental something that, well, makes them parodiable. (Bonus question: what is your favorite Raven parody? Know any parodies of the Bells?)

Once upon a midnight dreary…

I once wrote a parody of Bells in high school about one chum of ours. It wasn’t very flattering.

Otherwise I don’t really know of much use of Poe in anything besides the Simpsons. Oh, and that lousy football team in Baltimore.


No poem that uses a word like “tintinnabulation” can possibly be good. :smiley:

My favorite parodies? I prefer resettings of the original text, like the ancient Mad Magazine (Will Elder, IIRC) or Simpsons tellings of The Raven. Especially the oral “wink” (lost from the syndicated version) that Homer gives at the end of, “Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,” his salute to Eddie “Anything for a Rhyme” Poe.

When reading Poe one should always bear in mind that he was often his own editor and publisher and, therefore, his work was not always viewed with an independent eye before it was published.

I do recall a Mad Magazine parody of the Bells, entiled “Buttered Peas”. I can’t remember much of it, but it had some thing to do with “some heathen demon starts in screaming, and you’d sell your blooming soul for buttered peas. For it’s peas, peas, peas, peas, peas…”

Perhaps someone out there has the complete text…

It’s always been my opinion that Poe should have stuck to prose. His stories always creeped me out as a young feller.

The poetry … well, The Raven is okay as a mood piece. It even has one enduring line: “And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.” It also has what might be most memorably supremely awful stanza ever written:

The Bells: I prefer the shorter version for very simple reasons. It is shorter. And because it’s shorter,

It’s much less annoying!
Less extravagantly cloying!
Less a messy toying
With awful rhymes! Less an all-out deploying
By a very foolish doyen
Of sounds so annoying!
O annoying!

Good old Edgar Allen. Get yourself a copy of The Annotated Edgar Allen Poe, or the Penguin editions, especially his underappreciated Science Fiction of Edgar Allen Poe. His stuff is grear and moody. I’m not so big a fan of his poems as of his wruitings. EAP was a major influence on Jules Verne (who wrote a sequel to The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, and who stole the “twist” in “Around the World in 80 Days” from one of EAP’s short stories) ), H.P. Lovecraft (who wrote a sequel to Verne’s sequel), Arthur Conan Doyle ( who acknowledged his debt to Poe’s “Dupin” stories by having Sherlock Holmes diasmiss them), and Stephen King.

If you haven’t done so, read “THe Gold Bug” and “the Murders in the Rue Morgue” fort mystery, “Some words with a Mummy” and “The Thousand-and-Second Night” for off-the-wall science, and “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” for shudders. (It helps to have the annotated editions above for the weird science ones)

I’ve got recordings of Basil Rathbone, Vincent Price, and Paul Scofield reading these stories on audiotape, which I listen to in my car. There’s also an excellent one by Christopher Lee, with stories the others don’t do.

I confess, I have yet to see a poet write a greater stanza than this from Poe’s The Conquerer Worm:

But see, amid the mimic rout,
 A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out
 The scenic solitude!
It writhes! --it writhes! --with mortal pangs
 The mimes become its food,
And the seraphs sob at vermin fangs
 In human gore imbued.

Mimes! It’s eating mimes! This is literary gold!

Further proof I’m more a history geek than a literature geek:

I can’t read The Annotated Anything because I get caught up in the annotations.

Hee hee–you guys are killing me here. EAP is a famous poet. You have to read him in school. What about:

? Is no one able to stand up against the easy tide of derision in this thread? Do you think any of you sniping critics could ever hope to write anything quite so memorable?

I for one am not a sheeple. I will defend EAP!

Now, if you don’t take into account the fact that the lining is inside a cushion, and if you forgive the rhyme of “o’er” with “o’er,” “she shall press, ah, nevermore!” is pretty good. Press meaning embrace, as well as lean on, as well as implying physical existence, an iron and also if I am not mistaken a way of describing a style of basketball play.

Friends, dopers, Humble Servant, lend me your ears; I come to praise Poe, not to bury him. The good that he wrote lives after him; the doggerel is oft interrèd with his bones; so let it be with …

Mimes! For the sake of the sweet baby Jesus crying above us all, he wrote of a huge worm devouring mimes with vermin fangs in human gore imbued!

You can’t improve on perfection. This was, is, and always will be the quintessential literary passage. And there are so many ways to interpret it! My preferred analysis of it posits that the mimes are Irish Catholic children, you see, and … well, it just writes itself, really.

Wait, wait. Worms are vermin?

MAD Magazine used to run an occasional feature called “The MAD Poetry Round Robin.” In a mind-boggling feat of literary parody, writer Frank Jacobs would rewrite Famous Poem A in the style of Famous Poem B, followed by Famous Poem B in the style of Famous Poem C, and so on until he reached Famous Poem X in the style of Famous Poem A. One of these Round Robins included “Casey at the Bat as Written by Edgar Allen Poe”. . . enjoy!

I’ve always liked:

The City in the Sea
Annabel Lee

“The Eight Chained Orang-Utangs” or “Hop-Frog”, and “The Premature Burial” are NOT good things to read when you’re 11. Trust me.

Poe’s poems are rap lyrics.

Tsk! Doesn’t the Latin vermis come up in legal disputes?

From m-w:
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French vermin, vermine, from Old French, from vern worm, from Latin vermis

And from Perseus:
vermĭna , um, n. [vermis, gripings of the belly caused by worms; hence, in gen.]

[sub]I didn’t know it either, until I thought “Wait- crap- are worms vermin?” and rushed to look it up. But ssh, don’t tell. AND IT WAS EATING MIMES![/sub]

So are John Skelton’s, apparently. :wink:

And CalMeacham said:

Heh. I first encountered “M. Valdemar” in an undergrad course on SF. I shall never forget the prof explaining the…erm, well, it’s not really fair to call it Freudian since it predates Freud, but, well, that ending has all sorts of weird undertones. Goofy story, but neat. :wink:

(Oh, and I remember your Valdemar sig a from a few sigs back, and never did get around to complimenting it, but it amused me greatly. :D)

Katisha wrote:

As I’ve been saying for years. In my class, when I discuss poetics, I do my impression of The Beastie Boys doing Miss Mary Margaret.

The late, great sixties folksinger Phil Ochs did a musical version of “The Bells.” Ochs pared it down quite a bit, leaving out many of the lines in the longer work by Poe. I like what Ochs did with it.

Not only does this poem (and the song by Phil Ochs) have “tintinnabulation” in it, but also “alarum” which is an archaic (maybe it was not archaic in Poe’s time) variant of “alarm.” Certainly neither word was all that common by 1960-something, when Ochs set some of Poe’s words to music.

**I’m one of those kinder gentler corporate lawyers, not a litigator.

BUT, we SHOULD have known this vermin stuff anyway! We make jokes about it when we eat vermicelli!:smack:

OTOH, what about the worm fangs? Do we even want to go there?

Katisha–yer link rawks, per usual.

ddgryphon–I kinda agree that the City in the Sea is cool–but I can’t resist poking it with a stick anyway.

Lo!–it doesn’t scan–8, 9, 7, 12, 8.

The stories are great, though. Which one should I choose to read to my 10 year old for Halloween?