It was a cold December night,
When even the embers in the furnaces had turned to nothing more than ash.
I sat in my chamber,
Poring over a few volumes from my shelves,
Nodding off at my desk as the moon waxed and waned.
When all of a sudden, there was a faint tapping at my chamber door.
Then there was silence.
Perhaps I had just imagined the sound, a fabrication of my tired mind.
But there it was again. A rapping. A faint tapping against my chamber door.
What visitor would call on me at this hour?
“Come in,” I called, hesitant. Unsure of who stood on the other side.
The door opened and a shadowy figure loomed in the doorway.
Of course. Raven.
The shadowy man I had hired weeks before.
The man whom I had entrusted to help me find
My lost love, Lenore.
“Please, come in,” I implored,
Gesturing to an armchair by the fire.
But Raven paid me no heed, made no obeisance.
He entered my chamber and stood by my mantel,
Leaning against a bust of Pallas.
Some claimed he was a prophet,
Others believed him to be a thing of evil,
This stranger from the distant Plutonian Shore.
But still, though I knew him not,
I had entrusted him to help my find
My sweetest Lenore.
“It is good to see you, my friend,” I said, smiling after what felt like years.
“Have you any news of Lenore?”
My visitor was silent, breathing so softly he scarcely made a sound.
“Raven,” I said, firmly. “What news have you?”
But he would not speak. He merely stood there, blending with the shadows.
At last, when I could bear it no longer, when my patience had almost slipped away
Like the last grains of sand in an hourglass,
In a voice like leaves rustling in the wind, he uttered but one single word:
I waited for him to say something further, but he was silent again.
My heart raced. What did he mean? What had happened to my sweet Lenore?
“Raven!” I beseeched him. “Keep me in darkness no longer!
Tell me what you know of Lenore!”
But Raven merely shook his ebony head and whispered,
As I puzzled over how to deal with my taciturn visitor,
He drew a small jar from the folds of his feathery coat,
And placed it on my table.
A label that was almost faded read ‘Balm of Gilead’.
I had heard of this salve, known to possess unusual properties.
On silent instruction from my nocturnal visitor,
I applied the balm to my face and
Breathed in its odd perfume.
My head felt light as the air seemed to grow denser,
And I thought I glimpsed Seraphim flitting past.
Raven loomed over me, casting his shadow across the chamber,
Until all light was extinguished.
When I opened my eyes,
I was no longer in my chamber,
But on the shore of some strange land,
Seemingly forgotten by time.
Surrounded by foliage and fog,
Yet devoid of any other soul.
“Raven,” I asked my companion, who stood ahead of me.
“What is this place?
Where have you brought me?”
He was silent once more,
Driving me to restlessness.
Then, at last, he spoke.
Saying just what I had feared.
For as we stood in that land of endless night,
At the edge of a forgotten shore,