yellowpigs.net

The Raisin

Sara Smollett

c. 1993-1994

Once upon cereal dreary, while I spooned it, weak and weary,
Over many a glass of OJ and a rotten apple core,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a crackling,
As of some crisp gently snapping, snapping in my milk galore,
"'Tis only rice," I muttered, "snapping in my bowl before--
Only this and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the cool November,
And each flake, a dying member gave a popping like a roar,
Eagerly I wished, but sorrow, no cereal would be left tomorrow,
From that bowl that I did borrow, borrow from the lost Lenore--
For the rare and radiant raisin whom the angels name Lenore--
Tasteless here forevermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain,
Chilled me -- thrilled me, the drapery which I did not draw
So that now to still the beating of my heart, I sat still eating,
"'Tis some raisin," I'm repeating, "giving this crackly encore--
Some pruned grape, that I'm eating, from Battle Creek found at the store--
This is it and nothing more.

Now my hunger became stronger, and the spoonfuls came no longer,
"Sir," said I," or Madam Raisin, your forgiveness I implore,
But the fact is you were tasty, and with the spoon I was hasty,
And your texture was not pasty, like the oatmeal of before,
That I scarce was sure I heard you popping out your rich encore,"
One flake left and nothing more.

Deep into my bowl now peering, long I sat there wondering, jeering,
"Raisin, flakes, why don't you crackle as you've crackled once before?"
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only snap 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 my kitchen turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard the snapping, somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice,
Let me see, then, what thereat is, perhaps more breakfast at the door--
Let my heart be still a moment, and find cereal at my door--
'Tis the wind and nothing more!

Above the table full of clutter, with many dishes of jam and butter,
In there stepped a stately Raisin 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, sat wrinkled at my chamber door--
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door--
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this purpled fruit beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, though, " I said, "sure art though brazen,
Ghastly grim and ancient raisin, I don't give a fig," I swore,
"Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonium shore,"
Quoth the Raisin, "Nevermore."

Much I marveled, am I sanely? The crackles come now, oh, so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning, did not tell of my Lenore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no raisin, flake, nor being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing grape above his chamber door,
Prune that once was swimming in that crackling encore,
With such a name as "Nevermore."

But the Raisin, shriveled, lonely, on that placid bust spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour,
By the toast that I had buttered, there he sat and there he uttered,
'Till I scarcely more than muttered, "Other fruits have dried before,
And tomorrow he will leave me as other flakes have gone before."
Then breakfast said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken, by the growl my stomach had spoken,
"Never," said I, "has the food I've ate disagreed with me more,
Caught from some unhappy master, was this Date, and now disaster,
If I'd fast, but it comes faster, till his songs one burden bore--
'Till I wished I'd never woken and could return to my snore
"To the vineyards, nevermore!"

But the Raisin still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of prune, and bust, and door,
Then, upon the velvet sinking, and the silverware still clinking,
I betook myself to thinking what this ancient raisin of yore--
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly raisin in my bowl no more
Meant in snapping "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fruit, whose fiery eyes now in my mind began and swore,
And I sat, the spoon now shining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that I've spoken of before,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the spoon that gloated o'er,
Grapes shall be pressed, nevermore!

Then, I think, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
And I know I grew much tenser, as angels floated from the floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "that I have now seen," and by now surely I has green,
"Respite - respite and some morphine from my memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh, quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raisin "Nevermore."

Then I shouted "Grape Nuts, Krispies, Fruit Loops," and of names some more,
"Please, oh please, I beg you, get your prunèd self out of that door!"
Still he sat there without motion and I thought he had no notion,
Never would he leave, yet sat there for ten moments or a score,
"As the Brits say 'Cheerio,' now if me you'd kindly ignore!"
Quoth the Raisin "Nevermore."

"Be that word our wine of parting, fig or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting--
"Get thee back into the tempest or let me have some breakfast more!
Leave no prune juice as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken -- quit the bust above my door!"
Then I peered into the bowl, where the form had lain before,
Quoth the Raisin "Nevermore."

And the Raisin, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door,
And his wrinkles have the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the milk he sits in creaming as I go back to my snore,
And my soul from out his shadow that lies floating on the floor;
Shall be lifted -- Nevermore!