Poe wrote “The Raven” within a set of self-imposed rules that proved to be a challenge to emulate when I wrote this mashup. I didn’t realize the complexity until I set about matching the meter and rhyme scheme of the original.
“The Raven” has stanzas, or groups of 6 lines each, that conform to an “ABCBBB” rhyme scheme. Within that rhyme scheme, he uses internal rhyme within a few of the lines. It breaks down like this:
Line 1: 16 syllables; the middle word rhymes with the last word
Line 2: 15 syllables; the last word rhymes with the word “more”
Line 3: 16 syllables; the middle word rhymes with the last word
Line 4: 15 syllables; the middle word rhymes with the last word from Line 3; the last word rhymes with “more”
Line 5: 15 syllables; the last word repeats the last word from Line 4
Line 6: 7 syllables; the last word is or ends with “more” (e.g. “nevermore”)
Poe’s original piece has 18 stanzas; “Quoth the Raider” has 45. So it starts to become really challenging – how many ways can you use the word “more”? And there are only so many words that rhyme with it.
One of my cheats is that I sometimes use homonyms to end Lines 4 and 5. For example, I use the words “core” and “corps”. I’m sure Poe would admire this creative approach… or not.
And if that’s not enough, he applies a healthy amount of alliteration, which I’m a big fan of. I love being able to write, “…slews and slews of slimy serpents slithering…”. Saying it out loud is another matter.