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Attuned to catch the distant view-halloo

Chapter Text

Once upon a Christmas Eve, while I
toiled without reprieve,
Over many a faint and tedious ledger of
mistaken sum—
While I studied, always checking, suddenly
there came a pecking,
As of some one calling, some one becking, with a
steady thrum.
“What’s this creature,” I inquired, “pecking with a
steady thrum—
‘Pon this night of sugar plum?”

spied I, then, through glass darkly, dim, a stately
Raven perched on limb,
I knew his business, he of mourning dress and widow’s
preen, aplomb.
Might persistent was the patter which announced
his urgent matter;
Thus, with Yuletide dread, I harked the night-winged harbinger’s
grave drum—
the ancient crier who caws the hour, but one, with his
grave drum.  
Squawked the bird, “Your doom’s to come!”

But soon, with lip growing stiffer, I politely
begged to differ,
and stole my hand into a bottom drawer,
without squeak or um.  
Fingers sought the silver dagger which cut
Barb’ry pirate’s swagger.
My fate-strings were not his to snip, no, sir, but mine
to play, to strum.
There was much this broad bass-fiddle, yes, sir, had yet
to say, to strum.
Thus, I cried, “Your doom’s to come!”

At my counter-declaration came a squall of
what’s more, beyond the pane, appeared another, smaller,
feathered chum
a second stately well-groomed squire, perched upon
the bough just higher.           
At the arrival of a petite rival, the Raven
fell dumb.
He made not a peep nor mistletoe cheep. The Raven
fell quite dumb
at the squawk, “Your doom’s to come!”

The harbinger society atuned to looming
had dispatched to future scene-of-crime a follow-messenger
Many my questions, just one rife: how to kill two birds with
just one knife?
To what foul end might dark portent—and portent’s portent—
Might not two fall with proper blade and proper flick of my
left thumb?
Then came a third, “Doom’s to come!”

A third winged-lord, smaller, bolder, perched on bough at
second’s shoulder.
To scale, was he, with matching beak, eyes, caw, and
It would vex the sagest mavens:  how to best
recursive ravens!
This riddle fit for desert Sphinx rendered puzzler
as fate of one was quick to multiply to fate of
I cried, “Too much doom’s to come!”

Then, humbly, did I remember, ‘twas twenty-fourth
of December.
With dagger released, the bell was rung, sprang a hope I’d
yet to plumb.
Atop my desk my odd requests, window opened, I hailed
my guests
The larder mice, the pies of mince, the cakes of seed to
final crumb
washed down with island spirit sweet, then pudding,
a carol to hum,  
“Forget the doom, pass the rum!”


Poet's note: Now the morale of this verse, I suppose

is make merry with an unkindness of ravens

Or you'll be guest at a murder of crows