Edgar’s Raven

Posted: July 31, 2011 in beTwixt & beTween

Hello,

The following text/treatment/script/play, Edgar’s Raven, was written on Wednesday, ‎December ‎31, ‎2008.

As a writer I have underwent many changes since that time. I haven’t edited anything from my original text for three reasons:

One, I don’t have the time to work on it at the moment; two, I am not sure I like it in its current form; and three, I want this to remind me of my previous self and my thoughts.

If I am to re-edit the text I will re-work it into a comic book adaptation. The above poster is also a study for Edgar Allan Poe as a comic book character that I will hopefully further develop when time allows it; which as we know is never.

I hope you have the patience to go through 3,789 words that were written by an ambitious writer, who is still and very ambitiously working on his writing.

Mike V. Derderian

Now let us move on to Edgar’s Raven …

Edgar’s Raven

By Mike V. Derderian 

Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven

Prologue:

Edgar Allan Poe published The Raven on the 29th of January of the year 1845. In 1847 Virginia Eliza Clemm his beloved wife died of tuberculoses.

Characters:

I-Edgar

II-Virginia

III-His Inner Voice (Voiceover over visuals)

Scene one:

[The camera slides over a dusty wooden floor and takes us inside a decrepit and messy room. Books are lying everywhere. A man that resembles Edgar Allan Poe is lying on a wooden bed. A white dirty sheet covers his body. A large blood spot stains one end of the sheet. His hair is disheveled and his facial hair is growing into a light beard. His thin moustache is still visible.]

Scene two:

The Dream

[A woman holding a red rose is teasing Edgar whose head is reclined on her lap. They are lying amidst a sea of bright green grass. She is holding a rose with which she is tickling his forehead. A raven crowing is heard moments before the woman suddenly pricks her finger with one of the rose’s thorns. Blood spills over Edgar’s eyes and face. She panics and emits a scream.]

Fade to black

Scene three:

“Wake up Edgar,” a voice echoes faintly.  

[Edgar slowly opens his eyes and stares at the ceiling. With both hands he pulls the white sheet to his nose and takes a deep breath and exerts a sigh. He feels disorientated. He raises himself into an upright position and sits with a slouched back. His eyes shuttle across the room and freeze as soon as they reach the bedside mirror. The wooden mirror frame holds cracked pieces that reflect different angles of Edgar’s face. He feels deformed, fragmented and soulless. Edgar slowly rises out of the bed and heads out to the table that lies in the middle of the room. He picks up an ink tarnished quill, opens a leather-bound notebook and starts writing.]

 His voice:

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 named Lenore –
Nameless here for evermore.

[The flickering embers coming out of the fireplace die with a noticeable hiss no sooner they touch the wooden floor. Edgar turns around, stands up and walks towards the fireplace. Using a poker he turns the coals, violently coughs and heads back to the table.]

Scene four:

[The camera focuses on the room’s curtains that are slowly moving by a gentle invisible wind coming from behind Edgar’s shoulders.]

His voice:

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.

Scene five:

[The previous scene fades to black and for the fifth scene the camera ends up facing the blackness of the darkness outside Edgar’s room. Edgar shuts the door and with a faint whisper spells the word Lenore. He nervously heads back to the table and holds the quill and starts writing.] 

His voice:

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 darkness 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!’

[Suddenly the window behind Edgar burst open causing the curtains to flatter violently. The hinges of the window rustle madly as the roaring wind gives a terrible sound across the room. Frightened Edgar leaps in the direction of the bellowing curtains and the shaky shutters. He shuts the window and turns around to go back to the table but something outside the window takes hold of his attention and stops him from doing so. As Edgar approaches the window it bursts open again but this time it hits him in the forehead.]

Scene six:

[Clinging to a bust that was set on the coffee table next to the window Edgar falls to the floor. After a momentary blackout he awakes to find himself facing a stuffed raven standing on a thick branch. The bust broke off its base and rolled over under the raven in an upright position. Edgar lifts himself up and with an irritated jerk of his hand pushes away the broken base of the bust. Its broken edge pricked him in the chest. Looking into the dead glass eyes of the raven Edgar mutters the first line of the poem’s next stanza. Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a…with many a  (The curtains are still fluttering with the wind)a flirt and flutter. He stands up and heads back to the table and starts writing.]

His voice:

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.

[Grabbing the inker and the collection of papers he was writing on, Edgar rushes towards the raven and lies down on the floor. Facing the dead bird Edgar starts writing as he is looking into its eyes. He writes down a whole verse before His Voice continues.]

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 above the sculptured bust above his chamber door, With such name as `Nevermore.’

[The camera shifts from Edgar’s inquisitive eyes to the dead glass eyes of the raven. The bust is visible in the frame.]

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 will he 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.”‘

Scene seven:

[Edgar quickly rises to his feet, pulls the coffee table upon which the bust was sitting and sinks into a cushioned seat under the open window.  He nervously rearranges the papers on the table. Dips the quill in the inker, holds it up in the air and looks at the dead raven and smiles.]

His voice:

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul 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, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.’

[After feeling over his chest Edgar painfully unbuttons his shirt to discover a bruise covering the left side of his bosom. Not minding it he resumes writing.]

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!

Scene eight:

[Edgar suddenly stands. After exploring the room with his distressed eyes he gazes down at the raven.]

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer

Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,’ I cried, `thy God hath lent thee-by these angels he has 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.’

[Edgar’s features gradually shift and an expression of sad horror overcomes his pale face. He runs the palm of his ink tainted hand (blue in color) over his sweaty face and lifts the strands of his long hair from over his eyes.]

`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.’

Scene nine:

[Suddenly Edgar collapses and falls down to his knees. He cowers unto himself like when a baby does when afraid of something. He slowly raises his head and with his index finger starts tracing the shadow of the stuffed raven until he comes face to face with its cracked beak.]

His voice:

`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 named Lenore-
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

[Still on the floor Edgar clutches the few feathers that earlier fell of the dead bird and looks down at it. Holding the feathers close to his face his pale features gives away an expression of contempt. He angrily throws the feathers at the dead bird.]

`Be that word our sign of 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.’

[Reaching out to the lamp overhead Edgar brings it close to the raven whose shadows is now formed on the room’s door.]

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!

[No sooner His Voice utters the final sentence in the final stanza, Shall be lifted-nevermore!, in desperation, the door is flung open. Enter his wife Virginia.]

Virginia:

What are you doing lying on the floor Edgar! Are you all right love? Why is the window open? It is freezing in here.

[She runs towards the window and shuts it. Draws the curtains and looks at him with tearful eyes.]

Edgar:

Why are you crying? I had a dream that you died. We were in the most beautiful and frightful place a person can ever be found: a dream. There was a rose {deliriously delivered from where he is sitting—on the floor} and you pricked your finger…blood everywhere. I woke up and I actually smelled blood.

Virginia:

Oh don’t be silly I am not going to die [wiping her tears with a handkerchief she pulled out from the sleeve of her white embroidered shirt.] Not before you anyway. You must mean the blood stain on the sheet? Don’t you remember I had a terrible fit yesterday?

Edgar:

Why are you weeping? Is it because I broke your grandmother’s vase! Forgot about that…how are you feeling today my little Sissy? I dreamt that you died…blood everywhere. I woke up and I actually smelled blood.

Virginia:

Haven’t you heard a word of what I said Edgar? Talking to you is like talking to the dead all that is and was said to them is laid to rest. I thirst for words Edgar…not words like the one’s you write in your bleak poems but words of….words of…Oh bother…forget about it! I am fine Edgar. My Poor Edgar…my poor Edgar you are growing old and your soul is growing weary but what can I say about your imagination! It is as young as ever.

[She walks away from the curtain and bends over picking up the pieces of her vase. He looks up to her with loving eyes.]

Are you with me…where has your mind traveled now?

Edgar:

My mind! Alas, tireless unlike my body and soul…it is my blessing and curse…sentenced to a life of thinking is worse than rotting in cellar’s secret chamber chained to wall.

[She sits next to him holding his head to her bosom. He exerts a sigh of relief after looking into her eyes. She leans over with her face to kiss him he shuns her kiss to his lips giving her his check.]

Virginia:

Are you going back to sleep? Its 3:00 past midnight love. What did the doctor tell you? You are exhausting yourself. Who will look after me when you are gone? You’re all that I have in this wretched world and without you the world is mine no more. Are you afraid to go back to sleep again and to dream that horrible dream!

Edgar:

Frightful as they are: dreams are sometimes if not often a poet’s sustenance.Virginia, in dreams one is dead and alive, mortal and immortal; is flying and is buried, lost and found. Is in love and forsaken, sane and mad. In dreams one is a believer and a pagan, a monster and a human. Don’t you think it is so?

Still it wasn’t a frightful dream. It was so real. Do you believe in life after death Sissy? They say that death is but an eternal slumber in which man dream.

The righteous are blessed with sweet dreams, while, the wicked are blighted with nightmares: An eternity of dreams and nightmares is what awaits us after death don’t you think.

Dreams are the sustenance and sleep is the plate upon which it is served.

[He raises himself and sits. His back to her he opens his hands and places them close to each other creating a plate-like shape unto which he fixedly gazes.]

I don’t know…what my plate will bear….

[After uttering these words Edgar slowly collapses to the floor lying on his back. His head is now atopVirginia’s lap]

Virginia:

I believe that Heaven is what awaits us after death if one had felt God’s breath. For sweet as they are the embraces of the devil only gets us closer to Hell’s level.

Edgar:

{Looks up at her and gives a gentle smile} Did you write that?

Virginia:

I am afraid not. One poet in the family is more than enough thank you. I read it in some journal…one of those religious periodical’s that are distributed by members of the Salvation Army.

A lady in the street gave it to me the other day while I was coming back home. I believe it is in one of the kitchen’s drawers. Silly I thought it would be of use.

Edgar:

You had me worried there Sissy? You writing poetry! [Realizes that his words offended her he tries to explain himself] Sorry didn’t mean that as it sounded.

Listen to this: Fair maiden do not approach the gates ofArcadia. Away…away from its gold and silver topaz encrusted gates where no man is given favor. There lies nothing but misery and hard labor. Writing poetry to the hoards is an endeavor that only god’s can afford.

Thoughts and thinking to man is but a curse. Logic and reasoning is worse. Linking words with the invisible threads of our minds will grant us no answers but painful finds.

Atlas whose mighty lacerated shoulders were burdened by the weight of Earth. Refused to hold a poet’s quill for a day’s rest filled with freedom and mirth. So imagine what effect the sacred word would have on an immortal’s world and soul.

Virginia:

If you think that writing poetry is such a painful task then why do you do it?

Edgar:

I was born a poet. Cursed like many before me to a life of writing. We are the bearers of the sacred word. It is our task to write about what others, who are blinded by life’s pleasures, fail to see. We show them their own lives; they are the sustenance…can’t you see. It is all from within.

Virginia:

I am lost Edgar.

Edgar:

Remember what I said about dreams. I just remembered that if dreams are the sustenance of poets then men and women themselves are the vessel from within which this sustenance is taken and placed on the plate of sleep.

Virginia:

Am I your sustenance Edgar! Am I in your dreams Edgar? How do I look love? Am I prettier in those dreams of yours? Sometimes I think you are too consumed in searching for answers about your own existence that you forget you already exist.

Edgar:

Do you think I will be fortunate enough not to dream again! I am getting tired…wish if I never sleep.

I just had an idea for a poem. I think I am going to call it…call it…Ulalume…It is there lying on the table

{places the palm of his hand over his forehead} no wait I haven’t written it yet…how silly of me I dreamt that I did but tell me have you read the last one I wrote…I have finished it earlier. I called it Annabel Lee

Virginia:

No I haven’t. It has been a while since you showed me any of your writings. You only read them to your dedicated followers and never read me any unless I ask you.

Edgar:

Oh Sissy I am so tired of reading my poems to a bunch of idiots, who believe they are poets. Some of them aren’t able to write their own obituaries or even carve up words for their tombstones if Death herself stood behind them looking over their shoulders with a scythe hanging over their heads.

[Looks at her trying to remember what she was talking about earlier.]

What did you say about you being my sustenance? You are not suggesting that I eat you dear girl! [Gives it a moments thought before he continues] But of course you are…do you think I am only inspired by the world, life, death, people and animals.

You are a muse to me as any woman was to any poet born on the face of this earth. We still have time you know…but so little time.

Virginia:

So little time! Time for what? What are you talking about love? {She laughs but after seeing Edgar falling asleep she shouts again I thought I was your sustenance!} Edgar wake up…don’t sleep on the floor again. I never understand why you hate going to bed like a normal person. Never in my life have I heard of a man who prefers a cold floor to the embrace of his wife. Let us go to bed Edgar it is getting late.

[Slowly opening his eyes he looks into her eyes and clumsily holds her hands. Edgar stands up and heads out to bed. To her utter amazement he pulls open the blanket and slips under the white sheets.]

Haven’t you forgotten something my love?

Edgar:

Oh, right. I am sorry…goodnight.

Virginia:

I want to hear you say it.

Edgar:

Say what?

Virginia:

I am your sustenance….

Edgar:

{Drowsily} You are Sissy, you are…

[He mutters these words and slowly pulls the bed sheet over his head. She heads to the table after realizing that there is no use talking to him. As she reads the poem her eyes become swollen until she finally breaks into tears.Virginiaslowly rises and approaches the bed, where Edgar is now sound asleep. After kissing his cold face she snuffs out light of the bedside lamp. But before she leaves the room she stoops to the floor and picks up the collection of papers that she accidentally stepped on.]

Virginia:

Oh Edgar….

{While placing the papers on the table she mutters a final word in bewilderment}

The Raven!

[After standing in the dark for a few minutes she heads out to the door. The light coming from outside the room gives light to the now-dark-bedroom. The raven’s shadow is seen for a final time on the floor before the door is shut turning all to darkness.]

The End

All rights reserved (2011)

Comments
  1. Sarkasmos says:

    Mike’s Philosophy of composition ?🙂

    • mikevderderian says:

      Is it a composition philosophy? Maybe …

      I believe the smallest piece of writing is a reflection of our inner selves and environment.

      I am glad you liked it Sarkasmos … is your nickname a play on sarcasm – cosmos? I am curious …

      • Sarkasmos says:

        Sarkasmos >Greek > sarcasm>my middle name. Suits a Momus blooded woman who’s fond of Greek mythology. Mike’s Raven: Unlike Poe, your philosophy of composition is mathematical problem-free .It’s captivating and creepy to visualize the poem through your scenes…Psychological Complexity at its best, Fantastic🙂

      • mikevderderian says:

        Brilliant combination Sarkasmos. The first book I read on Greek mythology was a fascinating book that my mother bought me when I was a 5th grader. I bought others since. Greek mythology is fascinating. The ones that never seizes to fascinate me are that of Prometheus and Icarus. I’ve written on both characters. Not sure if they are on the blog. Will check. Have a pleasant day and again thank you for enjoying the scenes in Edgar’s Raven :-})

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