S.G. Browne

Poe and The Big 4-0: The Raven Reprised

PoeEdgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849)

To commemorate the anniversary of the death of Edgar Allan Poe, I thought it appropriate to share the following abridged retelling of his poem, “The Raven,” which I originally penned for a friend on the occasion of his 40th birthday.

The friend, like many others at the end of their fourth decade of existence, was dreading turning the big 4-0.

It seems doubly fitting considering Poe died at the same age…

Ode to Poe: The Raven Reprised
Once upon a birthday dreary, as I pondered, weak and weary,
Over thirty nine years of curious memories I’d forgotten long before.
Feeling spent, I started napping, when there came a subtle tapping,
The sound of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
‘Tis some solicitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door —
Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember how I once was young and limber,
And my hard, athletic body made women’s jaws drop to the floor.
Drowsily I wished for slumber, for an age of lesser number,
To remove, to unencumber, what the years had brought before.
To fit into the button fly blue jeans which I often wore
In mothballs now, for evermore.

Presently my sleep grew troubled, so out of bed I on-the-doubled,
And pulled a muscle in my back that I had injured years before.
With Icy Hot I started wrapping, but still there came a gentle tapping,
The sound of an insistent tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
“All right, all right,” I mumbled softly and opened wide the door;
Darkness there, and nothing more.

For a moment I stood fearing, that age had finally claimed my hearing,
When in there stepped a stately raven, uninvited, through my door.
Not the least respect he paid me; not an instant stopped or stayed he;
But like an old, incontinent lady, shat upon my hardwood floor —
Then perched upon a lamp from Macy’s just inside my chamber door —
Shat, and sat, and nothing more.

While this brazen bird sat mocking, I, mouth open, stood there gawking
Until I found my voice and questioned what the bird had come here for.
“With thy crest so shorn and shaven, why choose here to take up haven
Ghastly grim and ancient raven who tapped upon my chamber door?
Tell me why your black butt wandered in and shat upon my floor.”
Quoth the raven “Nevermore.”

How I marveled this ungainly, ill-mannered fowl had spoken plainly
Though its answer seemed bizarre and enigmatic to its core;
Not another word he uttered; not a single feather fluttered–
So with aching back I muttered and cleaned the bird shit off the floor:
“Stupid raven, quit the stained glass lamp inside my chamber door.”
Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”

Ignoring his reply so spoken, as I wiped up the bird’s fresh token
I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the shiny hardwood floor.
My waistline had become my master, and my hair was a disaster
Thinning fast and thinning faster until it covered less than more.
Till I wondered if I’d even look appealing to a whore.
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, sitting lonely on the stained glass lamp spoke only
That single word and shat again upon my pristine hardwood floor.
“Asshole,” said I, patience shrinking, back and neck tight and kinking
And I betook myself to thinking what this stupid bird of yore —
What this rude, obnoxious, one-note, defecating bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but my mind it kept digressing
To thoughts of Rogaine and Viagra, to how my youth I could restore.
This and more I sat divining, the fantasy I kept refining
Until I once more started pining for the years that came before
For the thirty-nine years of youth and vigor I had known before
Years recaptured, nevermore!

Then, it seemed, the air grew thicker, and my breath a little quicker,
As perception dawned like sunlight on a shadowed, misty shore.
“Wretch!” I cried, “Oh beast of treason, cursed bird I know the reason
Why you’ve shown up at this season — to mock the past that I adore.
Please grant respite, and diversion, from what forty has in store.”
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

“Villain!” said I, “dark intruder.” Then I called him something cruder.
“Have you no compassion for the life that I once knew before?
Youth and muscles once I flaunted, now by excess years are taunted
And my face by wrinkles haunted — tell me truly, I implore —
Is there — is there life past forty? — tell me — tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

On the lamp the bird did linger, so I, with grace, gave him the finger
And called him vulgar names that would shame my mother to the core
“Tell this soul with sex drive waning and with old age quickly gaining
Is there nothing else remaining? Is this to be the final score?
Will I have another chance to once more spread my wings and soar?”
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, stupid bird!” I yelled, upstarting —
“Get the hell out of my house and speak to me of this no more.
Leave no black plume as a token of the gloom thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my vanity unbroken! — quit the lamp inside my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy black butt out my door!”
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the stained glass lamp from Macy’s just inside my chamber door.
And he quotes with constant nagging to remind me how I’m flagging,
How my flabby ass is sagging almost to the hardwood floor.
To remind me how my waistline and the hair that I adore
Shall see my thirties — nevermore!

Filed under: Just Blogging,Random Fiction — Tags: , — S.G. Browne @ 7:24 am


  1. Brilliant, Scott! If you were still in English class with me, it’s another A+.

    Comment by Barbara Goff — October 11, 2009 @ 9:24 pm

  2. Thanks Barbara…I mean, Mrs. Goff.

    Comment by admin — October 12, 2009 @ 6:53 am

  3. Very impressive!!! Love it!

    Comment by Sarah Malone — October 15, 2009 @ 6:44 pm

  4. That was hilarious! I just happened to stumble across this as I was looking for an abridged version of The Raven to read to my daughter’s 4th grade class for their Halloween party. My husband turns 40 this saturday. I’m definitely using this for his party. Thank you so much!

    Comment by Ann Gubler — October 27, 2009 @ 11:45 am

  5. Hey, Scott,

    It’s Barb or Barbara….forget the Mrs. Goff stuff. Right!

    Comment by Barbara Goff — November 14, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

  6. […] poem because I’ve rewritten parts of it several times, including my ode to turning 40 titled Poe and the Big 4-0: The Raven Reprised. Most recently, I rewrote The Raven for a Best Man’s speech that starts out: “Once upon […]

    Pingback by S.G. Browne » R is for Road and Regulators — August 23, 2010 @ 5:42 pm

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