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Two Ravens revisited

September 14, 2012

Long ago I read a lengthy work of literature in blog format called Two Ravens, “a dialogue between thought and memory,” written by an online acquaintance of mine in 2004. It is strange to think that that was eight years ago. A few days ago he posted on his personal blog about the genesis of that work. His doing so has prompted me both to revisit it–which, if it’s no masterpiece, is quite good; I doubt I could do better, and I greatly enjoyed rereading it–and to think about the effect it had on me when I first read it.

My conclusion is that its effect on me was surprisingly large, and on the whole quite positive, and so, I suppose, I ought to thank the author (who I’ll always think of as “autolycus,” though he has a real name) for writing it. So, thank you.

I remember Two Ravens being one of the first things that made me think “poetry can be cool even if it’s not just telling a fun story.” I went on to study literature at an old-fashioned liberal arts college, and it was mostly close-reading poetry, and, in my case, mostly the poetry of G.M. Hopkins–and as I remember it the first line of “As kingfishers catch fire” was autolycus’s signature on the Wesnoth forums, so maybe he had a hand in that too. There’s a lot of reasons not to have majored in literature the way I did, but I am grateful, at least, for the opportunity it gave me to spend so much time with poetry and novels. It would be an exaggeration to say Two Ravens was responsible for that, but still, I’m not sure it would have happened had I not encountered it.

thought and memory:
why, how fast they fly!

one searching ahead,
one seeking behind;

a kingdom of dread
and a king to remind.

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