Tag Archives: ghosts

“The Raven” – Read by the Master of Mystery and Scare


 

The Raven

by Edgar Allan Poe
(published on this day in 1845)

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!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door-
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door-
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “Other friends have flown before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore-
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never- nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore-
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! –
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-
On this home by Horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore-
Is there- is there balm in Gilead?- tell me- tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore-
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend,” I shrieked, upstarting-
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!

Via PoeStories.com

[This version of the poem is from the Richmond Semi-Weekly Examiner, September 25, 1849. It is generally accepted as the final version authorized by Poe. Earlier and later versions had some minor differences. Source]

 
 

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THE GHOSTS OF THE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT – A Relating to Humans Philosophical Issue

It’s been a while since I have shared a submission from the Relating to Humans feature and I so pleased to get things started again by sharing this hauntingly beautiful piece from our Philosophical Issues feature by Philip A Green.

As a quick update, on Wednesday evening we’ll have a much anticipated (certainly by me) Guest Post by author Manizha Sepas (bedvilledadventurer.wordpress.com) and next Friday evening I will post my review of our IABS&R Volume 3 pick HAWSER by author J Hardy Carroll (jhardycarroll.com).


THE GHOSTS OF THE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT
by Philip A Green

I worked in an ER once with old wooden doors on the rooms. The patterns created by the grains in the wood became a Rorschach test for patients- some saw mountains, some saw animals, some saw nothing at all. But room nine, directly across from the trauma rooms, was different. Something in that door frightened patients.

It was the schizophrenics who first made me aware of it. God, they hated that room when the door was closed. I lost track of how many times the crash of that door being kicked open shook the department. The wall behind it had a fist sized hole from the handle punching into it. It finally reached the point where I had to make a rule, no psych patients in room nine.

I blew it off for years as a strange quirk until one morning, about three am, when I was interviewing a patient. In a sleep deprived stupor I sat on the stool next to the room nine bed, the gurney with the patient on it between the door and myself. The door was closed to give us some privacy. I was talking to the patient when the hair on the back of my neck began to rise.

There were faces in the door watching me. They wavered back and forth between a pattern in the wood and the Lost staring me down. I sat afraid, frozen in place, unable to understand what they could want from me. Finally, my patient on the gurney before me gave an awkward cough, and asked if I was ok.

That was a long time ago. I’ve moved on since then. Other ER’s, other towns, other stories. I never told anyone at work that I too, could see the faces. I’ve often wondered if a few of my nurses saw them as well. More than once during a trauma I’d catch a nurse staring off at the door on room nine across from us. The nurse and I would make eye contact, both waiting for the other to acknowledge the impossible. In the end, we never spoke of it, some things in the ER best being left alone.

The roughest part of what I do is getting out of bed each day, knowing an onslaught of suffering is barreling towards me. As I wake, so too are my patients. Perhaps we all drink coffee, sitting at our own breakfast table, chatting with our families about the day ahead.

I can’t help but think if only there were some clue, some way for me to warn them. Today is the day we will meet in the ER. Do not glance down at your phone on the way to work. Stay off Division Street. Wait, just one extra second, that’s all, just one second, before you step into the crosswalk in front of the school.

I imagine myself a ghost. Begging, pleading, screaming at them to stay home. Yet as a ghost, no one can hear me. My words have no meaning, my warnings no heed, my panic no justification. Nothing has happened yet. Today is starting out like every other day has started out, and those days were fine.

So instead we all get up, we go to work, and the day begins. I arrive at the ER, knowing my warnings have been unheeded. All I can do is prepare.

I walk through the department at the start of my shift. Airway equipment, check. Central lines, check. IV equipment, check. IV fluids, check. Room by room, item by item, I mentally touch and confirm each tool. As I see each item I make a quick practice run in my mind, so that when I need it I don’t have to think or feel. I can become pure action and resuscitation when need be.

Step by step I approach readiness, while somewhere, step by step, someone else approaches disaster. Like two planets whose gravitational fields pull them together, we begin on a collision course, gathering speed and momentum, neither of us yet aware of the other. I know a crash is coming but not who or what or where. My day is 10 hours of bracing for impact.

The buzzer on the radio squawks out through the department that a car has hit a pedestrian. The victim is unconscious on scene, rigs 7 and 12 are responding, and I know our planets are about to collide.

A hush falls over the ER as we listen to the call. They are on scene now, it’s bad. The victim is a child. She is critically injured. The car was speeding through a school zone. The quiet ding of a cell phone text has once again changed the course of the universe.

The medic phone rings and through the chaos and the static of the call there is only one thing I hear- the shakiness of the medic’s voice. ETA two minutes, he says, extensive facial trauma, chest trauma, maybe a collapsed lung. IV established, patient being bagged, not intubated.

My job now is to drain the department of all emotion. I become a human black hole. We cannot afford to feel. A child is dying. Feeling is for later. Now, we must focus. We must move. But we must not feel, or we will lose focus and fail.

My voice is calm, business like. As if we are getting a shipment of broken computer parts that require nothing more than reassembly in our shop. Part A will attach to Part B will attach to Part C. Nothing more.

I sound confident and ready, even to my own ears. It’s so convincing I almost believe it. Yet inside I feel it. The sheer terror. There’s no other word. The faces in the door of room nine show up in force for the show. They stare out at us, watching, observing, grading us. I try to ignore them as I prepare myself to once again bear witness to the horror of life tearing apart before me.

I take in a deep breath and push it down. Somehow I find a little space left inside to cram some more suffering. I shove one more round of fear into it, knowing at some point it’s going to break, but hopefully not today, not now.

We scramble to get the trauma room ready. There is motion everywhere. People run. Voices shout back and forth. Tubes are prepared, drugs are drawn up, machines are wheeled about through the department. Bright yellow gowns and blue gloves are handed out like bullets and helmets before a battle.

Everyone knows their role. The techs prepare the monitors and gurney. The nurses draw up meds one by one, laying the drug filled syringes out on the counter in a row, ready for whatever the enemy throws at us. Pastoral services arrive with a Bible. I stand off to the side, my head racing through protocols, doses, tube sizes, and back up plans. There is an excited buzz in the air as we prepare. Then it happens. We achieve readiness.

A silence settles over the room like a lens focusing us into existence. Nothing moves. Each of us alive and vivid and real and anxious and excited and terrified at what’s coming. The colors of the room seem brighter, my friendships with the nurses feel stronger, my mind feels sharper as I breathe air that suddenly feels cleaner. I can feel my heart in my chest, my hands, my skin, every part of me.

The medics come crashing through the door, CPR in progress, and once again motion returns. As they roll into the trauma room time slows. I focus all of my being onto the child sprawled on the stretcher before me. She is twisted and broken like a flower that has been stomped part way down into the soil. I know this battle has been lost before I even touch my stethoscope to her blood-covered chest.

The next several minutes are holy and private and terrible. And they shall remain that way forever. That is the one small power that I do have. Suffice it to say there is another face that stares out from the door in room nine, watching, waiting, perhaps remembering.

Weeks later, months later, years later, her face comes to me. I will be camping alone in the desert, as far from another human being as I can get. The door of room nine will rise in my mind, and I can feel the faces out here with me.

The desert, the stars, the heat, the desolation, the emptiness are not enough to keep them away. They follow me everywhere. That womb of stuffed down fear and horror inside me has to give birth eventually somewhere in my life.

I stare into my small campfire, the smoke twisting like ghosts rising to the night above. I wonder. Do the stars know? Does God know? Does the dirt know? What is this place, this life, this brief flash of light before we fall back into the darkness again from which we arose?

I watch the fire dance and the smoke rise for hours. The faces sit with me. I can feel it. They too wonder at it all. Finally, my fire burns out, the smoke stops, and the sun rises. In two days I have to go back to work. But now I understand.

The faces will always be with me.

Waiting. Watching. Making sure that I’m never alone when the next trauma comes.

philipallengreen.com

 
 

Pray

Pray

Pray, the poem

This was originally written for Poem Man
However, the editorial staff made the determination that it juuuust wasn’t the right fit.

Perhaps it’s a better fit for this eve of the hallowed and haunted…

And yes, I am already in my costume

Boo!