• Ryanne Harper

Keep Their Heads Ringin'


Before I get started, I missed A.A. Milne's birthday yesterday. I was far too busy writing grant proposals and virtually trying on glasses on zennioptical.com. I was hard pressed to find some that didn't make me look like Edmund Kemper. I blame the picture I uploaded, not the glasses. Anyway, happy belated birthday to A.A. Milne, the man who brought us Winnie-the-Pooh. I have a bit of a fascination with children's books based on real children. I'll touch on that more next week on Lewis Carroll's birthday.

Today would have been Edgar Allan Poe's birthday. He likely would not want a party on the off chance that he might have a good time. He wasn't a fan of fun. I mean, take a look at that face. He hates fun:

Edgar Allan Poe is basically the king of the macabre. The Cask of Amontialldo has forever made me afraid of being buried alive. So much so that I don't even want to be buried dead. The Black Cat convinced me cats can actually kill you. This fear was later confirmed when I was almost killed by a roommate's cat. Of all his short stories, though, Tell Tale Heart is my favorite. When I was in ninth grade, our English class took a field trip to see the Tell Tale Heart performed. It was so well done and scary. There's just something so creepy about that guy's vulture eye and something even creepier about a guy standing in a dark doorway with a lantern obsessing over the vulture eye. Poe had a talent for making ordinary things like cats, eyeballs, and catacombs extra scary. Well, catacombs are always kind of scary, but you get the idea. And he was able to do it in just a few pages.

He achieved this same sadness and horror in his poetry. Poe's best known poem is likely The Raven. Everyone knows The Raven. I like it but, for me, it's a bit played out. I prefer Annabel Lee, Poe's last published poem. Annabel Lee is, of course, about death. It's sad, haunting, and kind of sweet until the narrator reveals he loves AL so much he goes to her tomb each night and lies down with her. So, that's weird. That's the thing about Poe; he takes nice things and turns them dark. The Bells, for example. The Bells is written in four parts. Part Two begins like this:

Hear the mellow wedding bells

Golden bells!

What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!

Part Four begins like this:

Hear the tolling of the bells--

Iron bells!

What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!

So, even bells get melancholy. Also, the last half of The Bells just repeats the word bells over and over. It's enough to make you crazy. Or, if you're like me, your thoughts jump to Keep Their Heads Ringin' by Dr. Dre. It's probably the ring ding dong ring-da-ding-ding ding dong , definitely one of Dr. Dre's clunkier subtitles. However, it's impossible to NOT sing it when you say it so maybe it's brilliant. It probably is. Dr. Dre didn't get where his is doing not brilliant things.

Anyway, happy birthday, Edgar!


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