Note: It occurred to me during a recent trip to Baltimore (home of Edgar Allen Poe) that the poem The Raven had a lot to say about my feelings about recent events. So, here is a modified version; I’ve indicated in italics where the original text is mixed in with my revisions. I plan to come back to this and tighten it up, but I thought I would put it out here — as always, polite suggestions and comments are welcome!

Once upon an evening dreary, I searched for news, at least in theory,

Over many a dubious and mendacious channel that I abhor—

   While I surfed, nearly barfing, suddenly there came a harping,

There was someone roughly berating, berating everything I stand for.

“‘Tis some moron,” I muttered, “blabbing on this channel poor-

           Only this and nothing more.

 

   Ah, distinctly I remember, it was such-and-so “News Center”;

And each separate vying member wrought opinion upon the floor.

   Eagerly I wished for pausing;— a painful headache it was causing

   From incessant babbling — babbling for the lost tenor—

For the rare and radiant moment which the ratings most adore—

           Stop them falling through the floor.

 

   And the speakers – strangely certain, rushing to get a bit of dirt in

Chilled me—filled me with revulsions never felt before;

   So that now, to still the pounding in my head, I sat entreating

   “No more pundits spewing senseless manure!

Another useless pundit spewing senseless manure!—

           I can’t take this anymore.”

 

   Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

“Sir,” tweet I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;

   But the fact is I was watching, and so rashly you kept talking,

   And so loudly you kept talking, talking about ideas I deplore,

I checked for sure I heard you right — is this what you stand for?”

           Bias there and nothing more.

 

   Deep into that bias sinking, long their logic twisting, resisting,

Any reasoned idea a mortal ever dared to have before;

   But with platitudes unbroken, not a reasoned word was spoken,

   And requests for balance, at least token, was retorted with “What for?”  

I asked for fairness, and an echo murmured back to me, “What for?”—

           Merely this and nothing more.

 

   Back into the channels tuning, all my soul within me burning,

Soon again I heard gums flapping even louder than before.

   “Surely,” said I, “surely this is something worth watching;

     Let me see, then, if not CNN, this other station to explore—

Let my heart be still a moment and this station to explore;—

           ’Tis MSNBC and nothing more!”

 

   Over there I flung the remote, my annoyance thus to denote,

I was now a captive watcher, on that station evermore;

   Not a single dial on the TV, no button from which this channel to flee,

   But, with mien of lord or lady, perched at a desk without a drawer—

Perched at a desk, but we can’t see the floor—

           Sat the anchor, and nothing more.

 

Then this anchor, never smiling, always papers shuffling and piling,

By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,

“With thy head so shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no maven,

Ghastly grim, as though the whole world was at war—

Tell me when some positive news you will finally explore!”

           Quoth the anchor “Nevermore.”

 

   Much I marvelled this ungainly crier to hear discourse so plainly,

Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;

   For I cannot help agreeing that we should all be fleeing

   This anchor I was seeing, welcome as a cold sore—

Opinions as deep and thoughtful as a college sophomore,

           I wish to see it nevermore.

 

   But the anchor, sitting lonely at the placid desk, spoke only

But one word, as if its soul in that one word it did outpour.

   We would all be ushered, to the truth in one word: “Russia” —

When oh when will you leave this, when will it be done for?”

           Quoth the anchor: “Nevermore.”

 

   Startled at the facade broken by reply so starkly 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’.”

 

   But the anchor still jolting all my brain cells to revolting,

Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat to block the eyesore;

   Then, with continued hearing, my ears were nearly bleeding,

   Repeating “Russia Russia Russia”, I wondered what for—

What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt Babylonian whore

           Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

 

   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!

 

   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 hath sent thee

   Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of before;

Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost folklore!”

           Quoth the anchor “Nevermore.”

 

   “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 anchor “Nevermore.”

 

   “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  philosophers adore

Clasp a rare and radiant maiden called intellectual rigor.

           Quoth the anchor “Nevermore.”

 

   “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!

   My remote has been broken!—to the electronics store!

           I can always buy one more.

 

   And the anchor, still chattering, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid Farnsworth tube, set on a stand from the store;

   And its eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

   And the LED o’er it streaming throws its shadow on the floor;

In some other soul’s TV room, not mine anymore,

           I shall be watching—nevermore!

 

Image: Édouard Manet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ARaven_Manet_B2.jpg

 

 

 

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