The Raven (opening stanza only) by Edgar Allen Poe:
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 visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”
The famous poem goes on at length, revealing a man’s sad memories of a lost lover named, Lenore, and revealing the man’s loneliness that borders on insanity, perhaps? The raven is a harbinger of loneliness yet to come of course, as the black bird, entirely out of place inside the man’s high-ceilinged room, keeps croaking the word, “Nevermore.”
That’s one image of a raven, which though the bird may be categorically different than a crow, to people not well-versed in ornithology, the two birds seem to have only marginal differences. For most people, crow and raven are only different names for a similar if not identical bird.
Both of these birds have inspired many an artist over the years. They are so profoundly black that their image is easily made graphic. I particularly like them not just because of their graphic possibilities but because these birds are what I like to call, “The clean-up crew.” They seem to enjoy the heady delicacies of road-kill.
They are biggish, mysterious birds who are sometimes social but are often solitary. A caw-call may mean, “I found some food,” or it may mean, “Hey! Where are you guys?” Maybe it may even mean the more philosophical, “I caw, therefore, I am.” Who knows, eh?
All of this blather has only been posited for me to introduce my own attempt at poetry (should it be called “Poe Tree” in this case?) There are hints of Poe, in my poem about crow, flying as he was, above the trees, but I’m out on my own branch here.
It was one of those mornings when I was just mentally sucking in all that might be appreciated in the few seconds I had before getting into my frozen car for the daily drive to work. All was still and snow-laden in the nearby woods. A solitary crow flew just above the trees. He suddenly let out three, distinct caws as he flew. The image and sound stuck in my impressionable brain.
Then this emerged in words:
What is the meaning of the cawing of a crow,
when the air is cold, the ground white with snow?
A clarion call of death and decay?
Or the cry of one who has lost his way?