The Dove[1]

11 September 2002

Once upon a morning’s query, while I pondered, intense with fury,

Over many a quaint and curious volumes of my father’s lore-

While I troubled, in turmoil thinking, suddenly there came a tapping,

As if some one gently rapping, rapping on my chamber door-

“Tis some visitor,” I muttered,” tapping at my chamber door-

This or something more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bright September;

And each ray of sun shinned it’s light across the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow; patiently I had sought to borrow

From my books understanding for my sorrow- sorrow for those I adore-

For those true and triumphant heroes we all adore-

Perished here forevermore.

And the cotton, calm, well kept waving of the white curtain

Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic feelings I am sure were 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 early visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-

This or something 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 in turmoil thinking, and so gently you came rapping,

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

That I was scarce was sure I heard you” -here I opened wide the door;-

Light was there, or something more.

Deep into that light I stood peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams mortals had once dreamed before-

But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,

And the only phrase there was spoken was the whispered “those I adore!”

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the phrase “those I adore!”

Merely this, or something 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 there is something at my window lattice;

Let me see, then what threat is, and this mystery explore-

Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;-

Tis the breeze, or something more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, without a flirt or flutter

In there flew a perfect Dove of the precious 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 the bust of Pandora just above my chamber door-

Perched, and sat, and then more.

Then this ivory beguiling my lost fantasy into smiling,

By the fine and poised decorum of the countenance it wore.

“Though thy talons once bore a trove amid them, thou,” I said “art sure no haven.

Divinely dapper and ancient Dove flying from the morning’s shore-

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the morn’s Mediterranean Shore!”

Quoth the Dove,  “Forevermore.”

Much I marveled at this lovely fowl to hear discourse so plainly,

Though its answer little meaning- little relevance bore;

For we can not help agreeing that no living 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 a name as “Forevermore.”

But the Dove, sitting gently on the perfect bust, spoke only

That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.

Nothing farther then he uttered- not one feather then he fluttered-

Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before-

On the morrow he will leave me; I’ll be left with my sorrow as before.”

Then the bird said, “Forevermore.”

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 fortunate master who repeatedly saved from disaster

Followed fast and followed faster till redemption songs he did bore-

Till the hymns of his Hope and pleasantry he did bore-

Of “Forever- forevermore.”

But the Dove still beguiling all my fancy into smiling

Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;

There, upon the cotton sinking, I betook myself to linking

Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this radiant bird of yore-

What this gorgeous, gaily, gifted and radiant bird of yore

Meant in cooing, “Forevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

To this fowl whose lovely eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;

This I sat and more divining, with my eyes at ease setting

On the empty sky line that the sun gloated o’er,

But whose buildings which the sun had gloated o’er

They have left, ah, forevermore!

Then, me thought the air grew denser, perfumed from some unseen censer

Swung by the Seraphim whose foot falls 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 my memories of those I adore

Quaff, of quaff this kind nepenthe and forget the heroes I adore!”

Quoth the Dove, “Forevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of heaven!-Prophet still, if bird or angel!-

Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,

Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-

On this home by Sorrow haunted- tell me truly, I implore-

Are there- are there scales in Heaven?- tell me- tell me, I implore!”

Quoth the Dove, “Forevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of Heaven, prophet still, if bird or angel!

By the Heaven that bends above us- by the God I do implore-

Tell this soul with doubting laden if, within the distant Aidenn,

It shall see the scale that let evil free to bore,

It shall clasp the scale that let loose on the heroic souls we all adore.”

Quoth the Dove, “Forevermore.”

“Be that our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, up starting-

“Get thee back into the tempest and the morn’s Mediterranean shore!

Leave no white plume as a token of that truth thy soul has spoken!

Leave my questioning unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!

Take thy beak from my mind, and take thy form from off my door!”

Quoth the Dove, “Forevermore.”

And the Dove, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the perfect bust of Pandora just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of an angel that is dreaming,

And the sun o’er him streaming leaves him gleaming across the floor;

And my soul from that picture of him gleaming across the floor

Shall be rested- forevermore!

[1] With apologies to Edgar Allen Poe.