Angst on a Shoestring

Monday, May 08, 2006


The Real Raven

"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 someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
" 'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door;
Only this, and nothing more."

For those of you who paid attention in Lit class, you'll remember the above piece from Poe's The Raven, first published in 1845.
Little bit of trivia for you. Did you know The Raven was based on a pet raven, named Grip, that Charles Dickens owned? The bird came into his possession when he was researching the black bird, as a character in his new story, Barnaby Rudge. Poe, who at the time, was also a reviewer for the Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post. He felt Dickens did not use the bird to it's fullest potential, as a prophetic omen so he was compelled to write The Raven.
The real Grip,who was a beloved pet of the Dickens children, could talk.
His favorite sayings were:
"Never Say Die"
"Keep up your Spirit"
"Polly put the kettle on, we'll all have tea!"
Grip slept in the stables, usually on horseback.The stables were being repainted and white lead was used back then.
The painters were careful, but Grip being curious in his nature, burned to possess the pound of white lead.When the workmen went to dinner, he ate it all and died. He was stuffed and mounted. Dickens himself made the glass and wood case that he is displayed in. He was part of a large Poe collection given to The Rare Book collection of The Free Library of Philadelphia.

Raven and Poe Links:
EA Poe Society of Baltimore
The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, with information about Poe, his life and works, and the Poe Society.

Edgar Allan Poe Museum
The Poe Museum provides a retreat into early 19th century Richmond where Edgar Allan Poe lived and worked. The museum features Poe's life and career by documenting his accomplishments with pictures, relics, and verse, and focusing on his many years in Richmond.

Edgar Allan Poe Collection at Bartleby

Grip in all his taxidermied glory. He's a very large bird. I can't imagine having a bird that big flapping around my house!


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