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The Kitten (The Raven)
03-31-2017, 10:20 AM (This post was last modified: 04-01-2017 12:44 PM by Maxwell Grantly.)
Post: #1
Photo The Kitten (The Raven)
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The night-time gales howled outside the cabin and ripped loose branches from the grasp of the winter trees. The trees creaked and groaned under the strain of the wind’s icy grip and stretched their bare branches towards the stars, as in a resolute act of submission to the harshness of the elements.

Inside their cabin, Maxwell and Skippy huddled by the reassuring safety of a roaring open fire, as the gale vented its fury outside their home. Reluctantly, Maxwell pointed up to the hands of the clock upon the chimney breast and then he turned downwards towards his younger brother.

“Just one short story before bedtime,” pleaded Skippy, looking upwards towards his older brother and smiling sweetly, “Just one short story before it’s time for bed, please.”

Maxwell smiled and reached towards a book resting upon the arm of the couch. He picked it up carefully, pretending to blow clouds of make-believe dust of its ancient leather cover.

“This is a perfect story for a night such tonight,” he smiled at his younger brother, “It will make your blood chill in terrifying fear and absolute misery.”

Maxwell held one hand under the book to steady its pages and then raised his free hand upwards, trembling his outstretched fingers in a dance of teasing anxiety, as he muttered his voice in a low tantalising horrified mummer. The light from the flickering fire caught the silhouette of the claw-like fingers and a set of extended shadows danced and flickered across the far wall of the room, as in some gruesome dance of fear.

Skippy looked upwards to his elder brother with loving admiration and tiny goose bumps of anticipated fear rose across the back of his neck. He trembled slightly and let out a hushed squeal of feigned horror.

“Oh lovely!” he giggled, “Please do continue.”

With that, he rested gently beside his bigger brother upon the couch in front of the fire and then watched as Maxwell lowered his hand, extended his forefinger gently and placed it upon the top of the opened page, to trace the words one-by-one. (For, although being a hundred and five years old, Maxwell still hadn’t quite mastered the skill of fluently reading aloud.)

Slowly and deliberately Maxwell began to read ...

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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 cat gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some kitten," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more."

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Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
"'Tis some kitten entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late kitty entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
This it is and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Cat," said I, "or Kitten, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"—here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there and nothing more.

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Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"—
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
'Tis the wind and nothing more!"

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Kitten of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

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Then this ebony cat beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Kitten wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Kitten "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly cat to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing cat above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the Kitten, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered—not a kitty then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered "Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before."
Then the cat said "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never—nevermore'."

But the Kitten still beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of cat, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous cat of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous cat of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the cat whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Kitten "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!—prophet still, if cat or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Kitten "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!—prophet still, if cat or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Kitten "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign of parting, cat or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting—
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy paw from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the Kitten "Nevermore."

And the Kitten, 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's 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!


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Credit: The above poem was adapted from The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe (1845)


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