The Vulture (Parody of Poe's "Raven")
Once upon a midnight chilling, as I held my feet unwilling
O'er a tub of scalding water, at a heat of ninety-four;
Nervously a toe in dipping, dripping, slipping, then out-skipping,
Suddenly there came a ripping whipping, at my chamber's door.
"'Tis the second-floor," I muttered, "flipping at my chamber's door--
Wants a light--and nothing more!"
Ah! distinctly I remember, it was in the chill November,
And each cuticle and member was with influenza sore;
Falt'ringly I stirred the gruel, steaming, creaming o'er the fuel,
And anon removed the jewel that each frosted nostril bore,
Wiped away the trembling jewel that each reddened nostril bore,
Nameless here for evermore!
And I recollect a certain draught that fanned the window curtain
Chilled me, filled me with a horror of two steps across the floor,
And, besides, I'd got my feet in, and a most refreshing heat in,
To myself I sat repeating--"If I answer to the door--
Rise to let the ruffian in who seems to want to burst the door,
I'll be [damned]" that and something more.
Presently the row grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Really, Mr. Johnson, blow it!--your forgiveness I implore
Such an observation letting slip, but when a man's just getting
Into bed, you come upsetting nerves and posts of chambers' door,
Making such a row, forgetting"--Spoke a voice beyond the door:
'It isn't Johnson"--nothing more!
Quick a perspiration clammy bathed me, and I uttered "Dammy!"
(Observation wrested from me, like the one I made before)
Back upon the cushions sinking, hopelessly my eyes, like winking,
On some stout for private drinking, ranged in rows upon the floor,
Fixed--and on an oyster barrel (full) beside them on the floor,
Looked and groaned, and nothing more.
Open then was flung the portal, and in stepped a hated mortal,
By the moderns called a VULTURE (known as Sponge in days of yore),
Well I knew his reputation! cause of all my agitation-
Scarce a nod or salutation changed, he pounced upon the floor;
Coolly lifted up the oysters and some stout from off the floor,
Helped himself, and took some more!
Then this hungry beast untiring fixed his gaze with fond admiring
On a piece of cold boiled beef I meant to last a week or more,
Quick he set to work devouring--plates, in quick succession, scouring--
Stout with every mouthful showering--made me ask, to see it pour,
'If he quite enjoyed his supper, as I watched the liquid pour;
Said the Vulture, "Never more."
Much disgusted at the spacious vacuum by this brute voracious
Excavated in the beef--(he'd eaten quite enough for four)--
Still I felt relief surprising when at length I saw him rising,
That he meant to go surmising, said I, glancing at the door--
"Going? well, I won't detain you--mind the stairs and shut the door--"
--"Leave you, Tompkins! never more."
Startled by an answer dropping hints that he intended stopping
All his life--I knew him equal to it if he liked, or more--
Half in dismal earnest, half in joke, with an attempt at laughing,
I remarked that he was chaffing, and demanded of the bore,
Asked what this disgusting, nasty, greedy, vile intrusive bore,
Meant in cloaking "Never more."
But the Vulture not replying, took my bunch of keys and trying
Sev'ral, found at length the one to fit my private cupboard door;
Took the gin out, filled the kettle; and with a sang froid to nettle
Any saint, began to settle calmly down the grate before,
Really as he meant departing at the date I named before,
Of never, never more!
Then I sat engaged in guessing what this circumstance distressing
Would be likely to result in, for I knew that long before
Once (it served me right for drinking) I had told him that if sinking
In the world, my fortunes linking to his own, he'd find my door
Always open to receive him, and it struck me now that door
He would pass, perhaps never more!
Suddenly the air was clouded, all the furniture enshrouded
With the smoke of vile tobacco--this was worse than all before;
"Smith!" I cried (in not offensive tones, it might have been expensive,
For he knew the art defensive, and could coster-mongers floor);
"Recollect it's after midnight, are you going?--mind the floor."
Quoth the Vulture, "Never more."
"Smith!" I cried (the gin was going down his throat in rivers flowing),
"If you want a bed, you know there's quite a nice
hotel next door,
Very cheap--I'm ill--and, joking set apart, your horrid smoking
Irritates my cough to choking. Having mentioned it before,
Really, you should not compel me--Will you mizzle--as before?"
Quoth the Vulture, "Never more."
Smith!" I cried, "that joke repeating merits little better treating
For you than a condemnation as a nuisance and a bore;
Drop it, pray, it isn't funny; I've to mix some rum and honey--
If you want a little money, take some and be off next door;
Run a bill up for me if you like, but do be off next door."
Quoth the Vulture, "Never more."
"Smith!" I shrieked--the accent humbler dropping, as another tumbler
I beheld him mix, "be off! you drive me mad--it's striking four.
Leave the house and something in it; if you go on at the gin, it
Won't hold out another minute. Leave the house and shut the door--
Take your beak from out my gin, and take your body through the door!
Quoth the Vulture, "Never more!"
And the Vulture never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting,
Gulping down my stout by gallons, and my oysters by the score;
And the beast, with no more breeding than a heathen savage feeding,
The new carpet's tints unheeding, throws his shells upon the floor.
And his smoke from out my curtains, and his stains from out my floor,
Shall be sifted never more.
"The Vulture" is one of the earliest parodies of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." It appeared unsigned in the December 1853 issue of "Graham's Magazine," where many of Poe's original poems, short stories and articles were published. Although the parody is uncredited, it shares a page with another poem by the noted American humorist John G. Saxe, who may possibly have been the author of "The Vulture" as well. In the poem, the "vulture" is a sponger or deadbeat who sets up residence in his friend's house and proceeds to terrify him in far more ingenious ways than Poe's raven did his reluctant host.
Once upon a midnight cheery, while I pondered Darwin's theory,
Over such an old and shabby volume, inducing such bore,
While I nodded, gently rocking, suddenly there came a knocking,
And this noise was very shocking, knocking me onto the floor.
''Tis some visitor,' I muttered, 'mocking my lethargic snore -
Only this, and nothing more.'
Ah, that night, so very scary, it was in mid-February,
And I had some science homework • what a dismal, dreaded chore.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - I had forgotten to borrow
Extra credit work; what sorrow! - Sorrow for my grading score -
For the GPA and honors that depended on that score -
Useless if it hit the floor.
And my posture, so uncertain, my back aching, neck a'hurtin',
Stayed, unswaying, ‘till I could not be motionless anymore;
And right then, to still the shaking of my hands, grasped on the seating,
I sat, unmoving, repeating, ‘It's just someone at the door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance, maybe selling Dior; -
This it is, and nothing more,'
Presently my heart grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
'Um,' I said, 'Excuse me, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But I was trying to study, and if your shoes aren't too muddy,
I invite you in, good buddy, though I'm really bloody poor,
And I don't need Girl Scout cookies,' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Deep into the dark, befuddled, long I stood there, wondering, muddled,
Finally deciding I had never heard the knocks before
When the silence was unbroken, I did take that as my token,
And the only word there spoken was my own command: 'Ignore.'
This I muttered and an echo murmured back the word, 'Ignore!'
Merely this and nothing more.
Back into my studies turning, evolution to be learning,
Pretty soon I heard a knocking somewhat louder than before.
'Surely,' said I, 'someone's pounding - maybe they are sick, or drowning;
Let me see then, who they might be, and this mystery explore -
I'll be quite the Good Samaritan, perhaps win an award! -
I'd be glad to quit this chore!'
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there flew a windblown raven, flopping flightless on the floor.
Then he stretched his wings and wobbled and into the room he hobbled;
And, with mien of moldy gravy, plopped himself down on the floor -
Perched below a broken songbird clock above my chamber door -
Stared, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this pathetic bird, beginning to turn my dim frown to grinning,
By the ruffled mess of feathers and the shabby beak it wore,
'Though you're quite the ugly mess, dumb bird' I said, 'Give me confession.
Interrupting my nice session by your pounding on the door -
Could you tell me what your name is, dreadful bird, so soiled with gore?'
Squawked the raven, 'Nevermore.'
Much I wondered at the sickly fowl to hear his speech so quickly
Though the answer was still stupid • maybe ‘cause its tongue was sore;
For I could not help presuming that no others were assuming
They would ever find a talking bird just sitting on the floor -
This was better than the cheap, electric ones bought at the store,
With a name like 'Nevermore.'
But the raven, sitting lonesome on the dusty floor, spoke only,
That one word, over and over, and it soon became a bore.
Just like any wind-up plaything, he made no move toward escaping -
So I scarcely more than muttered 'I have dealt with pests before -
Soon, tomorrow, he will leave me, I shall prop open the door...'
Then the bird said, 'Nevermore.'
Startled at the interruption by the bird's vocal eruption,
I decided, 'It's provided words • the only ones it stores,
That was caught from conversations, fleeting words at var'ious stations
Throughout ev'ry utterance, this single word, it stuck, therefore -
I shall chase this pestilential monotone off of my floor'
Screamed the birdie, ‘Nevermore!'
Yes, the raven, (what annoyance!) in repetitive flamboyance
Kept repeating it's foul greeting, seated there beside the door;
Then, my left eye twitching madly, I did plug my ears so gladly
Thinking of what evil, thinking what this obnoxious bird of yore -
What this grinning, clumsy, thin, and threatening bird of yore
Meant in screeching 'Nevermore.'
So I sat, my ears unhearing, but the raven ever sneering
Yes, the fowl whose squeaking beak I wished would smash upon the floor;
Yes, each screech, still tolerating, each austere noise more frustrating
”What the heck is this?” I stated, waiting for that bird to leave the floor,
But his droning, violent whining just became a deaf'ning ROAR,
“Never, NEVER, NEVER MORE!”
'Stop it!' said I, 'That's annoying!', my tone slightly less than cloying,
‘How exasperating! Get this flagrant fowl off of my floor!
Yes, this feathered freak doth blare it, like a sick, demented parrot -
Now I'm twitching like a ferret • tell me truly, I implore -
Will you ever leave my study, bird? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Screams the raven, 'NEVERMORE!'
'Stop it!' said I, 'Thing of evil!” I did groan in my upheaval,
‘I have schoolwork, and you're not helping - rascal raven, speak no more!
Leave my soul to study science • fly away, end this defiance
For I'll punish noncompliance, and I'll cause you bodily gore-
Yes, I'm not afraid to do it! I'll just kick you out the door!'
Shrieked the raven, ‘NEVERMORE!!!'
So my leg went back, I aimed itPUNT! I thought I'd surely maimed it,
Till it flew into the air andTHUD • it bumped into my door,
Flew around, then hit the window, and the glass was very thin, so
Out the raven flew, it did go! (And my foot was now quite sore)
But alas! Ere it departed, it did say one thing once more
Quoth the raven, 'Excuse me, but I belong to the Greater Nebraska Animal Rights League! I hope you know, pal, it's a felony to torture wild animals under State Law! For God's sake, I was only reading the script!'