When is a raven like a birthday cake?

On Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday, of course! Poe was born 203 years ago today in Boston, Massachusetts. Not only is he one of my favorite writers and someone I consider an inspiration for my own writing, but he also has a hometown connection. While visiting Nancy Heywood Richmond (“Annie” of the poem “For Annie”) in Lowell, MA, Poe also spent some time in nearby Westford, MA. When I was in seventh grade (many years ago, let’s say sometime in the 80’s and leave it at that), a marker was placed by the house where Poe stayed. There was a small ceremony to dedicate the marker, along with a writing contest for stories and poems written in the style of Edgar Allan Poe. We were required to write a piece for the contest as part of an English class assignment, and, already a budding writer, I was determined to win. I actually turned in my story assignment late because I needed just a little more time to perfect it. It was a great little story with a woman and a cliff by the sea and a shipwreck and lost love, plus a stormy night and dark birds screeching overhead. And I won first place for my age group. It was my first writing award. I remember the prize was a small book about Poe, focusing on his relationship with Annie, a mystery-themed datebook, and maybe some money ($10? I can’t remember now). I’ve tinkered with the story a bit over the years. It has a unique style that’s hard to recapture unless I’m in the right frame of mind.

I have to credit that Edgar Allan Poe contest with providing my first validation as a young writer, even though publication was still a long time coming. His use of language and themes that delve into the darker side of human nature have helped shape me as a writer.

On that note, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite of Poe’s poems, Annabel Lee. Lyrical and haunting.

Annabel Lee, by Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea:
But we loved with a love that was more than love –
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her high-born kinsmen came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me –
Yes! that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud one night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we –
Of many far wiser than we –
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling -my darling -my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea –
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

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About Cindy Young-Turner

Hippie chick who is still hoping to change the world someday. Author of the fantasy novel, Thief of Hope.
This entry was posted in Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to When is a raven like a birthday cake?

  1. Tara Fuller says:

    Annabel Lee is my favorite poem of Poe’s too! Great post. 🙂

  2. Daryla says:

    It was $10.00. I remember that day!

  3. I knew you’d remember!

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