“The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe

One of the most influential poems of all time is called “The Raven” and was written by none other than Edgar Allen Poe. While the poem can be read through as no more than a simple story of a man’s love for the mysterior “Lenore,” it can obviously take on a more universal appeal.

Who among us hasn’t felt that kind of longing for another person at one time or another? Those feelings of love — unrequited or not — drive us in much that we do. We love, we lose, and we mourn. Those are the universal truths by which we are all bound.

Here’s an excerpt from the famous poem:


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 one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—

            Only this and nothing more.”

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 visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—

Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—

            This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, 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.

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!”

Hart Crane’s Best Work Of 1869

How many of us don’t listen to our urges? Perhaps most intrinsic of all human dispositions is that base desire to explore — a thirst for adventure. That’s what Brooklyn Bridge represents in a fan-favorite Hart Crane poem, To Brooklyn Bridge. Here it is in its entirety:

Proem: To Brooklyn Bridge

by Hart Crane

How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest

The seagull’s wings shall dip and pivot him,

Shedding white rings of tumult, building high

Over the chained bay waters Liberty—

Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes

As apparitional as sails that cross

Some page of figures to be filed away;

—Till elevators drop us from our day …

I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights

With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene

Never disclosed, but hastened to again,

Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;

And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced

As though the sun took step of thee, yet left

Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,—

Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!

Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft

A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,

Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,

A jest falls from the speechless caravan.

Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,

A rip-tooth of the sky’s acetylene;

All afternoon the cloud-flown derricks turn …

Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.

And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,

Thy guerdon … Accolade thou dost bestow

Of anonymity time cannot raise:

Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.

O harp and altar, of the fury fused,

(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)

Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,

Prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry,—

Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift

Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,

Beading thy path—condense eternity:

And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.

Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;

Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.

The City’s fiery parcels all undone,

Already snow submerges an iron year …

O Sleepless as the river under thee,

Vaulting the sea, the prairies’ dreaming sod,

Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend

And of the curveship lend a myth to God.

The bridge represents the potential inherent in an epic adventure that we all must embark upon at some point in our lives, whether personal or actual. In this poem we get to congregate with all those explorers who came before us. Perhaps most of all, To Brooklyn Bridge is a metaphor for the American resolve to make things bigger and better — to constantly strive to achieve the very best we can achieve. And perhaps that is what makes the poet timeless.

Still Relevant Today: “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”

Dylan Thomas probably didn’t realize the poem he’d written would have such universal and long-lasting appeal — but here we are in 2019, and the lines are as relevant as they’ve ever been. Then again, whereas it might always be interpreted to mean those who are at death’s door should always fight the urge to give in and go to their graves quietly, it can also be taken another way.

No matter the obstacle in front of you; no matter how bleak; no matter how unbreakable, unstoppable, or insurmountable it seems: do not remain complacent. Fight the good fight no matter what.

Here is the poem in its entirety:


Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Today, there’s an irony to those verses when you take them at face value. The “wise people” aren’t necessarily our elders. These days the wise people are the youth — the ones truly fighting for our future based on facts and empirical knowledge rather than the fruitless struggle of keeping the status quo the same. Then again, depending on your view of society, there are many who see the current president as the wisest leader of all (but we won’t comment on that).

Of course the artists among us will always continue toward the path of knowledge and reality over falseness and darkness. Words will continue to create powerful changes in our world even though, sooner or later, more might be required. What does the world hold in store for us? It’s anyone’s guess!

Metaphors In Song Lyrics: Katy Perry’s Firework

As soon as you read the headline of this article, you probably already started singing the phrase in your head. One of Katy Perry’s most popular songs from her Teenage Dream album is a great example of a metaphor in song lyrics.

Last I checked, I didn’t know anyone who was physically or literally a firework. So what does Katy Perry mean when she says the following lyrics:

Cause baby you’re a firework
Come on show them what you’re worth
Make them go oh, oh, oh
As you shoot across the sky

A firework is a big burst of colored flames that as Perry so eloquently put it, burst across the sky. They are loud, dynamic, full of energy, colorful, etc. In this metaphor, Perry encourages her listeners to be all of these things.

Music Video for Katy Perry’s Fireworks

A copy of her lyrics also show that the entire song is riddled with metaphors. What other metaphors can you pick out and what do they mean to you?

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting thought the wind
Wanting to start again
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards
One blow from caving in
Do you ever feel already buried deep
Six feet under scream
But no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there’s still a chance for you
‘Cause there’s a spark in you
You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July
‘Cause baby you’re a firework
Come on show ’em what your worth
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh!”
As you shoot across the sky-y-y
Baby you’re a firework
Come on let your colors burst
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh!”
You’re gonna leave ’em fallin’ down down down
You don’t have to feel like a waste of space
You’re original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow
Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed
So you can open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will glow
And when it’s time, you’ll know
You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July
‘Cause baby you’re a firework
Come on show ’em what your worth
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh!”
As you shoot across the sky-y-y
Baby you’re a firework
Come on let your colors burst
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh!”
You’re gonna leave ’em fallin’ down down down
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It’s always been inside of you, you, you
And now it’s time to let it through
‘Cause baby you’re a firework
Come on show ’em what your worth
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh!”
As you shoot across the sky-y-y
Baby you’re a firework
Come on let your colors burst
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh!”
You’re gonna leave ’em fallin’ down down down
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

Exploring the Poetry Resurgence Under The Trump Administration

Probably no one will find this surprising, but the number of new poems seems to have skyrocketed under the Trump Administration, which seems hell-bent on destroying everything it touches — especially if it was penned by the Obama Administration. If you’re as disgusted as we are, here’s a good poem to explore those feelings. It’s called Revenge by Elisa Chavez.

“Since you mention it, I think I will start that race war.

I could’ve swung either way? But now I’m definitely spending

the next 4 years converting your daughters to lesbianism;

I’m gonna eat all your guns. Swallow them lock stock and barrel

and spit bullet casings onto the dinner table;

I’ll give birth to an army of mixed-race babies.

With fathers from every continent and genders to outnumber the stars,

my legion of multiracial babies will be intersectional as fuck

and your swastikas will not be enough to save you,

because real talk, you didn’t stop the future from coming.

You just delayed our coronation.

We have the same deviant haircuts we had yesterday;

we are still getting gay-married like nobody’s business

because it’s still nobody’s business;

there’s a Muslim kid in Kansas who has already written the schematic

for the robot that will steal your job in manufacturing,

and that robot? Will also be gay, so get used to it:

we didn’t manifest the mountain by speaking its name,

the buildings here are not on your side just because

you make them spray-painted accomplices.

These walls do not have genders and they all think you suck.

Even the earth found common cause with us

the way you trample us both,

oh yeah: there will be signs, and rainbow-colored drum circles,

and folks arguing ideology until even I want to punch them 

but I won’t, because they’re my family,

in that blood-of-the-covenant sense.

If you’ve never loved someone like that

you cannot outwaltz us, we have all the good dancers anyway.

I’ll confess I don’t know if I’m alive right now;

I haven’t heard my heart beat in days,

I keep holding my breath for the moment the plane goes down

and I have to save enough oxygen to get my friends through.

But I finally found the argument against suicide and it’s us.

We’re the effigies that haunt America’s nights harder

the longer they spend burning us,

we are scaring the shit out of people by spreading, 

by refusing to die: what are we but a fire?

We know everything we do is so the kids after us

will be able to follow something towards safety;

what can I call us but lighthouse,

of course I’m terrified. Of course I’m a shroud.

And of course it’s not fair but rest assured,

anxious America, you brought your fists to a glitter fight.

This is a taco truck rally and all you have is cole slaw.

You cannot deport our minds; we won’t

hold funerals for our potential. We have always been

what makes America great.”

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3 Reasons To Teach Poetry In The Classroom

Poetry is either hit or miss when it comes to children and adults. Some people love it, some people hate it and most people don’t really have an opinion. Despite whether or not you love or hate poetry, teaching poetry to children is very important and can provide a variety of benefits for children in elementary school during their formative years.

Builds Reading, Speaking and Listening Skills 

Poetry is different than other types of writing because poetry has rhythm and rhyme. Having children listen to the poem and then having them repeat the poem out loud helps them connect the dots between what they hear, what they see and what they say.

Expands Language and Vocabulary 

Teaching phonics goes hand in hand with poetry due to their rhymes. Children can listen for and locate rhyming words. The way poems are structured can also be taught to help teach other basic grammar skills such as subject, predicate, and parts of speech. Also, many poems contain words that the children might not have heard before but they might be able to understand what they mean based on the context of the poem.

Inspires Writing 

There are several different types of poems from acrostic to sonnets. Different types of poems can inspire kids to participate in writing while also showing them how to form sentences and put words in a coherent order. But it also allows them to participate in creative writing while providing a structure.

There are several famous children’s poets that have written poetry that is appropriate for children; Shel Silverstein, A.A. Milne, Robert Louis Stevenson and Dr. Seuss just to name a few. The more exposure children have at an early age to poetry the more likely they are to enjoy it in the future. They will also have better grammar and literacy skills.

The Most Erotic Poems Ever Written

Poetry has long been a medium for which to direct our innermost thoughts to others who might be feeling something similar–or something different. Pen to paper is one of the greatest ways of exploring the taboo, the unthinkable, or the things we most want to have but can’t. Some of these poems are violent, some are sensual, some are erotic or sexual, tantalizing, dirty or timid. Here are a few of the most erotic poems ever written!

  1. Anne Carson told The Autobiography of Red, an unusual love story based on mythology. The story follows the “monster” Geryon who was sexually abused by an older brother. Geryon finally finds release through Herakles, although the love affair is not without its ups and downs. Who doesn’t love a good homoerotic romance with ambiguous literal or figurative monsters thrown in for good measure?
  2. Pablo Neruda was a Chilean poet known for his love poems, including “Every Day You Play.” This poem is savage and sensual, and blatantly erotic. It’s also one of the most beautiful and well-written poems you’ll ever read. “The rain takes off her clothes. / The birds go by, fleeing. / The wind. The wind.” This one is well worth the adventure.
  3. Anne Reeve Aldrich was a talented American poet, who wrote “Servitude.” It’s worth a read, as are her other works in The Rose of Flame. Like many popular poets, she found greater prominence after an early death at the age of 26.
  4. To a Dark Moses” was written by African American Lucille Clifton, a poet and writer. She gained much renown during her 73 year life, and almost won two Pulitzer Prizes in poetry. Her publication of “homage to my hips” was a rare work of art that helped women–and African American women in particular–find freedom in sexual expression through power and understanding.
  5. Audre Lorde was known as a source of pride for lesbian feminism as an activist and writer. She gave us “Recreation,” sensual and sexual as it is. She’s also well known for her common expression of outrage at the state of civil rights during her life. She grew up in the 30s and 40s and passed away in 1992. She identified as a poet, mother, feminist, African American, and lesbian, although she was careful not to allow any one identity overtake another. She wanted to use those parts of herself to bring others together in celebration of differences.

The Risk Of Suicide In Poets And Their Works

Poetry has always been a medium for the subjects we least like to discuss. It’s a way to describe our innermost thoughts without saying exactly what we mean, and that’s why it’s so special. A poem is always open to interpretation, and that means that many readers will never truly understand the mind of the poet. But that’s okay. This style of writing is meant to be fluid.

Many readers believe that a number of writers who have committed suicide left clues in their poems–Sylvia Plath chief among them. According to research on the subject, writers who have committed suicide veer toward subjects of social detachment and narcissism, in stark contrast with writers who lived to a ripe old age or died naturally.

Writers are known to commit suicide at a greater rate than average, poets in particular, so it might not come as too much of a surprise that depressed writers tend to choose darker words and explore darker subjects than happy writers. According to the same research, struggling writers often stick to the first-person point of view, using the word “I” at higher rates.

Today, poetry is used as a medium in order to prevent suicide. It is used to explore our feelings of grief after a loss or teach others about options to cope with depression.

There are those who believe it’s the nature of poetry that causes depression among poets. When you write, you most often do it alone. As a species, we most often focus on the negative over the positive. Poetry is a means of personal expression, and therefore it focuses on the bad over the good. Then again, poets also have increased rates of mental illness. Is creativity a predictor of depression or other mental illness?

Poets tend to die an average of six years earlier than those in other professions. This is due to increased rates of alcohol and drug abuse, suicide, and all the health concerns that result. Whether or not this is causative is open to debate. Perhaps those who are depressed are simply more likely to turn to poetry as a means of coping.

The Best Underrated Poets

Not everyone can get into poetry, and that’s okay. Sometimes a concrete narrative you don’t have to interpret is easier on the mind, and sometimes a visual narrative is easiest of all. Then there are those who turn to the interactively visual narratives of video games. All of these represent different artforms, and yet even today poetry seems the most underrated. Who are the most underrated modern-day poets? Here are just a few who deserve a more in-depth look!

Michael Hettich’s work is an inspiration. It’s a nice change of pace for those who prefer the narrative approach to storytelling, and it’s easy to read. You’ll find yourself thrown back in time with poems like First Day of Class or And We Were Nearly Children. These works are simple yet subtle, and that’s what we like.

Ars Poetica, written by Archibald Macleish, represents quite the opposite. It’s short and sweet, but it’ll put your mind to work. It’s not necessarily about inherent meaning; what it means to you will be different from what it means to anyone else. We each have our own unique memories and this poem is a great way to stir them up.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind–”

Give it a try!

Ross Gay’s Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude is another deserving title on our list. He speaks to his audience directly, spurring fantastically colorful imagery, sounds, and smells in our imaginations. Not only will this poem elicit many outdoor memories, but it can coerce some dark thoughts as well.

An excerpt:

“I mean tons — of cowshit
And stood ankle deep in swales of maggots
Swirling the spent beer grains
The brewery man was good enough to dump off…”

Karen Head studied at the School of Literature, Media, and Communication of Georgia Tech but her imagination might have you believing she’s a product of Harvard. She writes about mature topics, as this excerpt from Listen O daughters turn turn shows:

“You don’t need your daddy to string you up in a barn to beat the sin out of you because the sin swirls like a spring tornado from the moment you gasp into this world…”

It’s true, this list is by no means comprehensive. One person’s underrated is another’s overrated, because we all have our own opinions. Who would you like to see added to the list?

Famous Phrases By Shakespeare

In The United States, we have a love-hate relationship with Shakespeare. While many of us dreaded reading his plays in high school due to the sophistication of the language, theatre lovers consider it a privilege to present his works. But without Shakespeare, the English language would not be where it is today because not only did he invent words that we use today, he invented common phrases that are used all the time. Here are some famous phrases that have been attributed to Shakespeare. This is not the same thing as famous quotes such as “star-crossed lovers” or “to be or not to be” or “shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” – these are phrases that we use in our everyday vernacular that were first introduced to us by Shakespeare.

Bated Breath – Merchant of Venice

This phrase refers to breathing that is subdued because of some emotion and/or difficulty. Shakespeare used “bated” as an abbreviation for the word “abated” which means to bring down or lower. In 1933, the phrase was featured  in the poem Clever Cruel Cat but was misspelled as “baited.”

Fancy-Free – Midsummer Nights Dream

This phrase describes the feeling of being without any ties or commitment. The word fancy in Tudor England meant “amorous inclination” or in today’s vernacular enormous enthusiasm.

Forever And A Day – The Taming Of The Shrew

This term means exactly as it sounds and cannot actually exist. Forever is ever and therefore you cannot add days to it. Shakespeare used this as a dramatic emphasis.

Good Riddance – Troilus and Cressida

This expression refers to the pleasure of getting rid of something, usually a person. The term “riddance” was first used in a poem Away Mourning in 1525 and simply met getting rid of. Shakespeare coined “good riddance” to describe the positivity that can come from getting rid of something.

In A Pickle – The Tempest 

In a pickle simply refers to being in a difficult situation. The word “pickle” refers to being disoriented or mixed up as the stewed vegetables that were used in original pickles (spicy sauces used to accompany meat). Similar to the phrase “in a jam” where instead of vegetables, it is the fruits that are mixed up and disoriented.

Wild Goose Chase – Romeo and Juliet 

This phrase refers to searching for something but never finding it or pursuing something that is futile. A “wild goose chase” however is not running after a wild goose and chasing it. It refers to a terminology in horse racing where the lead horse is at a set distance which mimics wild geese flying in formation.

For more clever phrases written by Shakespeare, please feel free to visit their website.