The Raven’s Croak

by Thomas Davis
A Spenserian Sonnet

Hunched down beside a woodpile, ebony,
In shadows from the cedars overhead,
The raven blinked black eyes, its dishabille
Of feathers rustling, stirring up a dread
So dark it seemed as if it called up from the dead
White wisps of spirits buried in the snow.
The raven hopped on top the woodpile, head
Cocked, moving like a dancer in a show,
A shadows’ shadow pantomiming woe.

Dawn’s darkness deepened as the raven leaped
Into the sky and hovered as the glow
Of blood-light saturated earth and seeped
Into the raven’s eyes, it’s dance undone
Until its beak croaked out the blazing sun.


Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis

24 responses to “The Raven’s Croak

  1. Ina

    “A shadows’ shadow pantomiming woe”
    this poem shows the character of the raven very well and I love the last line: its beak croaked out the blazing sun. Wonderful!

  2. Once again Tom, I am in awe of your poetic skills. This is so beautiful.

  3. Wow! I love this line:
    ‘A shadows’ shadow pantomiming woe.’
    and the last stanza is just so powerful – as if it is cloaked in a colour so deep (like the black of the raven). It sings beautifully of the Native American power of the totems. As ever, Thomas, beautifully crafted.

    • Angela, you are really writing well right now. Thanks so much for noticing the craft. I work and work at that. I find that I write best if the writing is made hard by the form, and I am forced to not just spill words onto paper, but the fashion them and then fashion them again over and over. That’s why I love the old forms so.

      • Thank you for the encouragement, Thomas. An inner voice has been urging me to step up my poetry; to find ‘my’ voice. So I have gone in search of poems, rather than letting them find me, and I have worked and worked them.
        I love your poetry because it is different to mine…and I like different. I have come to accept that I was never meant to write well in form, or that it is not the right time for me, or that I am not there yet. I tried to write a sonnet a week or so ago and could not get past the first line. The wall was too thick. So I bow to my soul’s desire to write as I do, and I enjoy seeing the craft of form so beautifully exampled by poets like yourself.

  4. I’m finding it very interesting watching how you play with traditional forms, Thomas. Here’s another example. Taking my cue from Angela, you’ve poured some New World wine into an Olde English bottle.

  5. This raven isn’t like Poe’s sinister guy quoth-ing genteel “nevermore” but a croaker, your title tells us. I can clearly see your raven in stark black against the white wisps, among the shadows in between….doing his cocky little dance. There is dread and death around, but somehow what’s coming through to me is that cockiness—much like a rooster–as if he’d like to manage a cock-a-doodle, but as we learn, his is only a croak at the blood-light, even though he still probably thinks it is he who brought the sun to rise. A very sonorous, enjoyable poem in my book, Thomas.

  6. I agree with Angela – that it sings “….of the power of the Native American totem”. Your poems are always so well-crafted, full of atmosphere… this one gave me goosebumps!

    • Thanks for saying that my poems are well crafted. I see what other poets are doing, trying to write one poem a day for all of April, and I am amazed. I take days and even weeks to write a poem, and sometimes I fill endless pages with crossed out lines and changes in word patterns. How can they write poems so quickly? I believe in craftsmanship. Nick Moore attracts me precisely because he is a meticulous craftsman with traditional verse forms. I also believe in art beyond craftsmanship, but have found that most poets skilled at craftsmanship are also achieve art on a regular basis. You do not have to write traditional verse to become a craftsman, of course. I consider your work to often display craft as well as art. Ethel’s work does too. Anyway, thanks for noticing the craftsmanship. That helped make my day.

  7. This works, and is wise and knowing, on so many levels. So glad you are getting back into you stride.(And I am looking forward to what I may be reading of yours in the future.) As with Ethel’s work, there is always a deep rootedness with Nature (and the capital is very deliberate here) and with the depth, dignity and power of the timeless, of history and tradition.

    • I always feel pleased when you see a strand tying Ethel’s writing to mine. We write so differently in some ways, but so much the same in others. Thanks Ben Naga.

      • “Ethel’s writing to mine. We write so differently in some ways, but so much the same in others.”

        I can but concur.

        Meanwhile, I have opened the note where I began my reply to your query about “UPON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS”, only to receive a deluge of new e-mails. Ii is now 1.54 here in Cumbria and my eyelids are starting to droop. I’m getting to the stage where words look wrong and I’m needing to check the dictionary. But I want to do your query justice, so it may be a job for tomorrow after all. Sorry.

  8. Darn, everyone got there before me on ‘a shadow’s shadow pantomiming woe’. If I produced a line like that, I’d give myself the rest of the year off. Dark, brooding and portentous, this is writing of the highest order, from a writer at the peak of his powers. A wonderful sonnet. Tom. N.

    • If you gave yourself the rest of the year off, Nick, I’d be mad at you. I can only hope I’m at the peak of my powers, but am not sure at all that I have any powers to climb to the peak of. You are certainly as good a poet as I am.

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