What is it about October that seems so well suited to the raven and all it has traditionally symbolized — thoughts of mortality, loss, longing, and loneliness. Dread, ill omen.
Is it the closing of the year, with its shorter nights and falling temperatures that force us indoors to ponder such thoughts? Is it the proximity of Halloween?
All these dark sensibilities are perfectly evoked in Edgar Allen Poe’s narrative poem, The Raven, written in 1845. Poe said the raven is meant to symbolize “Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance.” Though set in “bleak December,” the poem is perfect for October and Halloween — with haunting elements of the supernatural, gripping “sorrow for the lost Lenore,” and a late night visitor “tapping at my door” uttering the unsettling refrain of “Nevermore!” Spooky.
Raven, rook, crow — there’s something authoritative about the sleek black bird. It perches high in trees and pierces the air with its call. Its sound is not the dulcet, sympathetic tones of the mourning dove, another bird associated with loss, but a more insistent and raucous “caw!” Forcing us listen to its bleak message whether we want to or not.
In honor of Edgar Allen Poe, and in celebration of this time of year, I give you the raven (all images are from Pinterest). I hope you enjoy them!