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Ambrose C Madden

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Raven Hair
by Ambrose C Madden

Thursday, December 27, 2007
Rated "PG" by the Author.
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Recent poems by Ambrose C Madden
•  Elegy on the Edge
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           >> View all 13

I started writing this as an exercise in rhyme and meter and finally finished it. There are a number of technical problems with it, inasmuch as it does not fully follow Poe's structure in every stanza. After it settles for six months or a year, I'll revisit it and look at revising it. I have always loved "The Raven" for it's meter, rhythm, rhyme, and imagery. I am unaware of any other poems written in this form, but I wanted to give it a try.

Raven Hair

A Poem In Honor of Edgar Allen Poe


Friday workday now has ended, and the 'lift' has just descended,
Taking me into the lobby, where I walk through open doors;
On the street I feel the humming of the resonance and thrumming,
As the 'hammers, that are drumming, rip the streets where traffic roars;
Working quickly for the weekend, in the streets where traffic roars;
High above a pigeon soars.

Cross the street, I set a brisk pace, heading for the park where my place
On the benches, metal mesh, is waiting as on days before.
Sitting down I take my notebook, prop it on my arm and then look
For the pen I have that I took, when I visited the shore;
Just a memory from the days, when once I visited the shore.
There I saw a seagull soar.

Now my mind is quickly draining, for the skies have started raining
And the letters from my pen have started running on the page.
So I quickly try to scribble more that isn't trite and dribble,
Words upon which I won't quibble, like an actor on the stage,
Whose soliloquy is perfect as he struts upon the stage,
Sounding like some ancient sage.

More there was to write, but I found, staying there would find me half drowned
In the falling droplets coming quickly then from gray-black skies;
Packing up my books and briefcase, glancing 'round I sought a dry place,
Seeing one within a small space, there I went for drier skies;
Lowered ceiling made of stone provided me with drier skies,
Where never hawk nor eagle flies.

In that shelter thus provided, with some others who decided
Standing there with perfect strangers made more sense than getting wet;
Dry we stood and quickly glancing, saw a pair, who there romancing
In embrace too tight for dancing, had not looked our way as yet
Each one, focused on the other, had not looked our way as yet,
As we fled from getting wet.

Looking down, avoiding staring, though the couple, long past caring,
In the fervor of their kissing never seemed to be aware
Of the crowd that stood around them, close as flower to its long stem,
Giving not the slightest ‘ahem’, that could make them know or care
That we stood beside them wishing we could make them know or care,
Still they kissed on, unaware.

Thunder roared as we politely looked away from that unsightly
Private moment seen by many who were trying to ignore
Passion that between two lovers, should have played between the covers
Of a book that one discovers, in that section of the store
Where the ‘romance novels’ sign implores, within that section of the store,
Shoppers to buy books and more.

As I looked around I saw her, staring, in the place where we were,
Staring boldly at me, who then stood a mere two feet away.
In her eyes it seemed there could be, fire that might in moments burn me,
If my eyes should fail to break free, from the eyes that burned that day,
Wise I would have been to turn my eyes from those that burned that day,
But on hers my eyes did stay.

From that couple now distracted, from my mind they were redacted
By the eyes of her who looked directly at me standing there;
With her gaze it seemed she plotted, in the spell of time allotted,
To bewitch her target spotted, past a wisp of raven hair.
Black and shining on her forehead fell that wisp of raven hair,
Something in me said, “Beware.”

Then she smiled, she seemed at ease, a smile that drove me to my knees,
And breathless held me by the throat until my mind screamed out for air;
I could see some evil scheming and I knew I was not dreaming,
Wise men would have started screaming, that the struggle was unfair,
How could I have stood the onslaught when the struggle was unfair?
Louder now I heard “Beware!”

At the first word to me spoken, from the spell I was awoken;
She declared that she had known me from a distant love affair.
Standing there I was unable, like some hero in a fable,
Standing on the tallest gable of a house on village square,
To proclaim I did not know her, from that roof on village square.
Shuddering I thought, “Beware!”

Frozen there, my mouth not speaking, through my mind the thoughts were streaking;
I stood spellbound by her gaze half hidden by her raven hair.
Once again her voice addressed me, and its tone again oppressed me,
As her raven hair obsessed me, she spoke of some past affair,
Which I still could not remember. She spoke of some past affair.
Once we’d loved, this, she did swear.

“Now,” she said, ”I’ll state it plainly, though you think my thoughts insanely
Spew from one whose mind was broken by the troubles all must share;
In a time you can’t remember, in the fall one past September,
Brutally you did dismember, what was love, both true and rare.
Cruelly you threw away that which was love, both true and rare,
Then walked away without a care.”

So I stood, my mind was reeling, bouncing from the ground to ceiling,
Trying to recall some one with whom I had a love to share;
Fixed before her gaze, my mind blank, in my chest it seemed my heart sank,
Till at last my nostrils there drank of the fragrance of despair;
Recognizing all at once she wore the fragrance of despair,
Inner voice screamed out ‘Beware!’

At last, released, my voice was freed, and I began to speak with speed,
About the mem’ries wakened in me by her fragrance of despair.
“You,” I said, “I can’t remember, from some fall or lost September;
Nor did I our love dismember, spurning locks of raven hair.
Had I known you then, I’d know you with your locks of raven hair,
Wafting scents of deep despair.”

More I spoke, once I had started, stating that we never parted,
Though familiar was her fragrance, smelling of a dark despair.
“Deep within you, I see traces, of the many distant faces
I have loved in other places, loves for whom I had great care.
There are many I remember, loves for whom I had great care,
But not you, with raven hair.”

“True,” she said, “That it is so, you’ve never seen this face I show,
Nor have your fingers, slightly parted, combed my locks of raven hair.
Never once did your lips kiss me, never once did your heart miss me,
Never once did your eyes bliss see, where they now behold despair.
In my eyes you see the pain, ensconced where they now hold despair
Black, as is my raven hair.”

When she paused, I sought to find, a memory, within my mind,
That could begin identifying her, who stood with raven hair.
In her eyes I finally saw, what filled my heart with wond’rous awe,
A soul whose light contained no flaw, yet terrified me standing there.
Perfect soul and raven hair, she terrified me standing there.
Again the voice screamed out ‘Beware!’

“Now I know you, though you’re Legion, and you come from distant region,
Where the loves of all my life, once gone, departed unaware;
In your eyes I see the traces, of the myriad of faces,
I had loved in many places, ere my love became despair;
Those I’d loved so long ago, before my love became despair,
As dark as is your raven hair.”

“True it is, that I am many, and you cannot point to any
Single one of all your loves that you have left in black despair.”
Now no longer was she smiling, and her gaze that was beguiling,
Seemed to start intently styling, hate beneath her raven hair.
Medusa would have feared the face, now forming ‘neath her raven hair,
Had she, not I, been standing there.

Fixed, my gaze, upon her now, and seeing hatred on her brow,
I froze in place and could not move, fixed fast before her deadly stare.
While I stood, she took her leave, and left me there beneath the eave,
Without a hope for some reprieve, reprieve from guilt that I must bear;
Her torturous face and raven hair, illumine guilt that I must bear.
Too late to act, I heard ‘Beware!’

In the room where I was taken, they say, “Never will he waken
From the spell in which he breathes and mumbles ‘black and raven hair’.”
Those who visit all leave crying, as they soon grow weak from trying,
To awaken one who’s lying, lying with a vacant stare.
Never will I rise again, but lay with ever vacant stare,
Unable to cry out ‘Beware!”


Copyright © 2007 Ambrose C. Madden

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