Returning from the flurry of the start of the semester, I want to consider the close of Coleridge’s “The Raven” (much as Tim has now brought to a close his wonderful readings of “The Rime”). When we last left our bird, he’d returned to the oak—now “grown a tall oak tree”—and brought along with him a “She.” The pair built themselves “a nest in the topmost bough, / And young ones they had, and were happy enow.” But avian tragedy ensues in full, dramatic measure:
But soon came a Woodman in leathern guise,
His brow, like a pent-house, hung over his eyes.
He’d an axe in his hand, not a word he spoke,
But with many a hem! and a sturdy stroke,
At length he brought down the poor Raven’s own oak.
His young ones were killed; for they could not depart,
And their mother did die of a broken heart.