Beckett: Poetry – No. 2191, The Dove

Familiarity with Edgar Allan Poe will tell that this poem is similar to The Raven. In the poem, the raven is thought to be a demon by the protagonist. Thus, in my poem, my aim was to write the antithesis to this demonic bird. The poem is based on a time I suffered with assurance of salvation.


Once upon a crisis dreary, while I pondered, ashamed and weary,
Over many of my insufferable, sinful lore,
While drowning in my own tears, more sins adding, I heard a tapping,
Perhaps someone gently knocking, knocking on my bedroom door.
"'Tis only a visitor knocking," I murmured, "knocking on my bedroom door, —
                    'Tis only this, and nothing more."

Yes, plainly I remember it was one blighted July
While my thoughts wandered on the stained, carpeted floor.
Thinking of sleep and dreading the morrow, vainly I sought to borrow
From the Scriptures surcease of sorrow, — sorrow from Satan's lie,
Who inspired the abysmal display of my desired demise, —
                    I'm invisible here and forevermore.

And the moonlit boughs bristling outside my window
Comforted me, until resurfaced my vexation from before
So that lethargically, to the rhythm of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis just a visitor impeding beyond my bedroom door, —
Some rude visitor characterised by frivolity and bore.
                    That is it, and nothing more."

Sudden courage exalted me, fearing awkwardness no longer,
"Look," said I, "your immediate absence I implore;
For I was sleeping and gently you came knocking,
And so softly you were knocking, knocking on my bedroom door
That I hardly heard you," — and I opened wide my door, —
                    There was darkness and nothing more.

A while I stood there searching, wondering, and inquiring.
Perhaps I was sleeping a dream within a dream of before, —
Wondering why I'm broken and cursed to be heartbroken.
Perhaps it was insanity that all I could mutter was, "My Lord?"
This I whispered, half expecting that He would come forward, —
                    But from the darkness came nothing more.

Back onto my mattress turning, my soul within me burning,
Soon I heard once more the tapping of before.
"Certainly," said I, "it is surely coming from my window glass.
Let's ascertain, then, my vexation that I deplore,
That my soul may be still before the Lord.
                    'Tis the boughs and nothing more!"

Thus, up I raised the window when, with startling flutter,
In there flew a pearly dove of beauteous days of yore.
Not a single deference made He, nor stopped in flight did He.
Yet, with the royalty of the Lord, He perched above my door,
Perched with authority over my bedroom door, —
                    Perched, and sitting, and nothing more.

Then this silvery dove enchanted my chagrin to a smile
By the audacious, lordly gentility of the demeanour He wore.
"Though You certainly appear like a dove," said I, "surely You're no bird.
A pearly and saintly dove upon this nightly shore?
Tell me, what is the reason for my suffering I abhor?"
                    Quoth the Dove, "Nevermore."

Long I marvelled at this dove to hear an answer so strange,
Although His answer hardly satisfies, — His answer a bore,
But I press on because no living person has been blessed
With seeing such a saintly fowl above his bedroom door, —
Bird or Spirit upon the cracked frame of my bedroom door
                    With such an answer to suffering as, "Nevermore."

But the Dove, sitting still on the doorframe, spoke only
That simple word, as if that message were His outpour.
Nothing more did He utter, and not a wing He fluttered,
Until, vexed, I muttered, "God has visited before.
Like others, He will leave me, as my hopes have fled before."
                    Quoth the Dove, "Nevermore."

Stunned by the silence broken with the same simplicity,
"Indubitably," said I, "for that Word is all You have in store.
You've caught me held captive by my master, Sin.
What do You have to say, perched upon my bedroom door,
About my incalculable sins of yore?"
                    Quoth the Dove, "Nevermore."

And the Dove, peacefully sitting, and swiftly descending,
Flew straight into my heart's door,
And His breath possesses my spirit everlasting.
The life of Christ He brings to the fore;
I never fear the sins of before
                    That shall be prosecuted nevermore!

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