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i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

Crazy Raven Revenge

February 15, 2005

I just finished reading Coleridge's "The Raven." This was a lovely dreary poem. Perfect, I'm sure, for Valentine's Day. :c)

First of all, a little symbolism:

The Raven - traditionally viewed as the trickster in American Indian mythology, the raven is also associated with transformation, changes in consciousness, and shape shifting.

Swine - the beginning of the poem starts with swine eating everything in sight, which I found odd. Swine are traditionally viewed as unclean animals, so much so that certain religious groups won't eat the animals. Did Coleridge intentially start this poem with the imagery of the unclean animals?

"He belonged, they did say, to the witch Melancholy."

mel·an·chol·y
n.
Sadness or depression of the spirits; gloom.
Pensive reflection or contemplation.
An emotional state characterized by sullenness and outbreaks of violent anger, believed to arise from black bile.

So... right off the bat, we know this isn't going to be a happy poem. The poems starts off with a bunch of pigs eating everything in sight, save one little acorn, that the raven plants in the riverbed. Then, the raven flies off to live his life and when he comes back to the oak tree with his lady-raven-friend, I was initially fooled into thinking this might be a sweet little poem after all, but oh no, because here comes the woodcutter to ruin the raven's life.

Does the woodcutter = the grim reaper?

Sure, why not? This poem can easily be seen as an allegory for life and death. Everything is spiffy in the life of the raven: he has experienced adventures beyond the scope of this poem. Only the real action in the raven's life doesn't start until death hits close to home.

What's really interesting about this poem, I suppose, if the fact that most of us don't get to have our revenge on death, as much as we would like it. After the woodcutter has destroyed the raven's home and built the oak tree into a ship, the raven gets to fly around cawing madly as the ship and its inhabitants are destroyed in an act of poetic justice seen more often in, um, poetry than in real life.

Moira at 01:35 PM :: Comments (0) :: « :: »
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