1. Tempered Definition

What is an “artistic temperament”? How do artists who seem as though they are very nice people (if known on a personal level) sometimes create horrific and dark works of art? To answer, we must define negative capability. 

John Keats’ explanation of negative capability is one of the clearest. When writing about the “poetical character,” he explains that there is no such thing as a “poetical character”: 

“As to the poetical Character itself … it is not itself—it has no self—it is every thing and nothing—It has no character—it enjoys light and shade; it lives in gusto, be it foul or fair, high or low, rich or poor, mean or elevated—It has as much delight in conceiving an Iago as an Imogen.”

He then goes on to speak of the poet as a “chameleon.” The poet imitates the truth that he sees. He does not have to like or dislike the truth. In order to ring true with other persons, the artist must depict what is “there” (either literally “there” or “there” in the human imagination): 

 What shocks the virtuous philosop[h]er, delights the camelion Poet…. A Poet is the most unpoetical of any thing in existence; because he has no Identity—he is continually in for—and filling some other Body—The Sun, the Moon, The Sea and Men and Women who are creatures of impulse are poetical and have about them an unchangeable attribute—the poet has none; no identity….”

The poet has no identity of his own (as a poet). When Keats says that “a Poet is the most unpoetical of any thing in existence,” he means that the artist is the least artificial. He does not impose his personal virtue or personal judgements on his subject in terms of writing prescriptions to the world. To the extent that the artist depicts something which he believes to be “wrong” (such as rape, for example), his depiction of the act or thing as “wrong” will only resonate as long as other people also believe that it is “wrong.” To the extent that the artist depicts his own aspirations for the world or for humanity (or society or any other collective), those aspirations will only resonate if they are vaguely shared by many other people. 

The artist who writes about himself will face a conundrum that will hinder his development; he will only be able to proceed with his career as an artist if he is able to overcome it. 

The conundrum is, roughly: “when I am done writing about myself, what else will I write about? I cannot write about myself and myself alone for ever.” The distinction then has to be made between: “am I writing about myself and my own identity” on the one hand and “ am I writing about common subjects and objects which I sees from the perspective of my individual point of view?” on the other. If I choose the former then I consign myself to irrelevance very quickly. If I choose the latter, then I stand a chance at contributing an individual point of view to the anthology of human experience. 

Choosing the latter is not enough. It is simply a prerequisite attitude of being an artist which has been demonstrated to be prerequisite by the example of the great artists who have come before us. Once one chooses this attitude, one also has to learn the craft and means of imitation and, most importantly, one has to develop a sensitivity for sifting through the madness in order to find a line or a way to the objects and subjects which should be presented or illuminated. 

How, then, are artists different from certain animals who excel at mimicry?

Take the example of The raven. Ravens imitate the speech of human beings and also the tone of their speech with great fidelity and accuracy. These birds also mimic other noises, like car engines, toilets flushing, and animal and the birdcalls of other birds. Ravens have been observed to imitate wolves or foxes in order to attract them to a carcass of an animal that the raven finds but isn’t capable of breaking open on it’s own. When the wolf is fed, the raven swoops in and feasts on the leftover meat. The fact that this bird is able to imitate animals such as wolves and other birds is a testament to the accuracy of it’s mimicry. The wolves and other birds are not reasoning creatures. Like the raven, they are driven only by natural instinct and not by anything which is not found in nature or learned by instinct. There is no “convincing” a wolf of anything. The imitation is either “believable” (ie recognized as part of it’s nature) or not. Ravens quickly learn the sounds that exists in their environment in order to scavenge. The raven (just like every other animal) cannot reasonably be regarded as “evil” or “deceitful.” Any characterization which human beings place on animals is a characterization of attributes which are human. 

The examples of cycles that consist of jealously, deceit and murder which we will explore in this chapter are human cycles within the human world and the behaviors which we will cite are human behaviors. The raven is true to it’s nature when it mimics in order to hunt. The words that the raven imitates are meaningless to the raven. They are sounds. The car engine, too, is not a “car engine” to the raven. It is a sound. The raven does not know what the “wolf” (as we have termed it) is a wolf. The raven does not know that it is a “raven.”

The meaning that results from study and definition are the sole province of human beings. In terms of this meaning, the raven is a vacuum. It is a void which might be terrifying to human beings but it is not terrifying to itself. It is as natural as the motion of an avalanche or a volcano erupting. Nature has a meaning which is it’s own and which is not answerable to human definition. Humanity is, in fact, a small part of that self-sufficient “meaning.” 

The difference between the poet and the raven is simple. The raven’s imitation is practical. The poet’s imitation is playful. Shigeru Miyamoto put it in the following terms. 

“Anything that is impractical,” says Miyamoto, “can be play. It’s doing something other than what is necessary to continue living as an animal.”

These are absolutely basic terms. It is necessary to eat and drink. It is not necessary to make a cup for drinking or learn about the elements that make up the water or juice which we drink. Science is not necessary. Art is not necessary. Learning, in general, is not necessary. Learning is, however, vital to our nature as human beings. 

In that sense, learning is both essential and necessary. It is not essential and necessary to our survival as animals. It is essential and necessary to our humanity. “When it comes to other animals, they play to prepare themselves for hunting,” says Miyamoto. He continues: 

“If you ask me why human beings play, well, I just don’t know. It must be just for pleasure. We generate chemicals in our brain so that we can have some pleasure, and by now we’ve come to understand that pleasure makes you happier, and being happier makes you healthier.” 

Miyamoto is correct but let us take a step back in order to add something to his reasoning. What must happen in order for us to have that pleasure that Miyamoto refers to? The pleasure is the effect. What is the cause of this effect? What is the cause of our pleasure? 

“Poetry in general seems to have sprung from two causes,” says Aristotle in the Poetics, “each of them lying deep in our nature.” These causes which lie deep in our nature are: 

“First, the instinct of imitation is implanted in man from childhood, one difference between him and other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures, and through imitation learns his earliest lessons; and no less universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated. We have evidence of this in the facts of experience…”

Aristotle says the same about an instinct for harmony: 

“Next, there is the instinct for ‘harmony’ and rhythm, metres being manifestly sections of rhythm. Persons, therefore, starting with this natural gift developed by degrees their special aptitudes, till their improvisations gave birth to Poetry.”

We can view this instinct for harmony as being the imitation of “unseen shapes.” We “hear” and sense these shapes through the harmonic vibrations all around us on earth (they are present throughout the known universe). In any case, the cause is the same or, to use Aristotle’s words: “The cause of this again is, that to learn gives the liveliest pleasure” 

In both cases, the same is true: we learn. Learning is the cause of our pleasure.

Miyamoto is also right when he concludes that “by now we’ve come to understand that pleasure makes you happier, and being happier makes you healthier.” We do not need to understand the physiological aspects of the endocrine system and study the effects of stress on the body in order to understand that this statement is true. It is human nature to learn and to play (to recreate the mind). An animal that resists it’s nature (of which humans are the only example) is fighting it’s nature. That is a surefire strategy. What results is not simply unhappiness but self-destruction. 

The raven imitates to hunt. The human being imitates to play. There is utility and inherent natural function  to the raven’s imitation; it is practical. The human being imitates for impractical reasons. Curiosity never really did kill a cat. Human beings ascribed a character to the cat. Curiosity has, however, killed or damaged many human beings. That’s why the expression is so handy to us. The expression, of course, means nothing to cats who could simply “not care less.”

Here is the basic definition of Science:

Science

      1. Knowledge.
      2. Certainty grounded on demonstration.
      3. Art attained by precepts, or built on principles.
      4. Any art or species of knowledge.
      5. One of the seven liberal arts, grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, music, geometry, astronomy. is well as  of learning 

Here is the basic definition of Philosophy (literally “love of knowledge”): 

Philosophy

      1. Knowledge natural or moral.
      2. Hypothesis of system upon which natural effects are explained.
      3. Reasoning; argumentation.
      4. The course of sciences read in the schools.

The basic definition of art involves the making of things:  

Art

  1. The power of doing something not taught by nature and instinct; as, to walk is natural, to dance is an art.Or the study of things which are made (which is a science): 
  1. A science; as, the liberal arts.

The first case involves learning (by doing something which is not taught by nature or instinct). The second case involves learning (by learning about what is made through art). 

The purpose of these disciplines are the same and can be expressed as follows:

Discipline: Science
Purpose: to learn; to know; to seek out the truth

Discipline: Art
To learn; to know; to seek truth

Discipline: Religion/Theology/ Free Thought
To learn; to know; to seek truth. 

In a strict sense, Philosophy is common to all of these things. Knowledge is sought by those who love knowledge. The demonstration of their love for knowledge is that they seek it out and produce results that demonstrate their accomplishments or, at the very least. their attempts. No true lover of knowledge obscures knowledge by spreading lies or confusion. 

Knowing this is essential to making real connections and inquiries within art and into art. The fundamental difference between knowledge obtained from art and knowledge attained through other disciplines is that artistic knowledge is attained through making; through invention. But one must still study and know and think critically. The notion that art is a natural event and that artists who engage in criticism and speculation about their own work or the work of others (or the universe) are “didactic” or “philosophers” is wrong. Artists as diverse as Ai Wei Wei, Bernstein, Rand, Auden DaVinci and Coleridge (and many others) have been defined as “philosophers” or “social thinkers” or “activists” (among a host of many other things. Their research, contemplation and critical thought is not a by-product. It is essential to the making of art. 

Realizing this is also useful to audiences or users of works of art. This knowledge is the difference between falling for superficial connections and understanding the real human knowledge contained in the art. 

Picasso illustrates both points clearly: 

Futhermore, it is the realization alone that counts. From this point of view it is true that cubism is Spanish in origin and that it was I who invented cubism. We should look for Spanish influence in Cézanne. He was well on the way; observe El Greco’s influence on him, a Venetian painter. But he is cubist in his construction.

But all this is a matter of outer garb and you cannot invent something you don’t know!

The artist must realize something (or see something) in order to expresses anything. There is no simpler way to put this: “you cannot invent something you don’t know.”

One knows something. One then expresses that thing. This is what is meant (or should be meant) when we hear that that an artist “has something to say.” If you see something, say something. 

It’s that simple (in principle). What, then, makes the study of history a science while artworks (even those which depict historical events) are works of art? The words history and story (or tale) are similar and, if one looks at the French word for tale (as used, for example, in Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du soldat or The Soldier’s Tale), the proximaty is clear. Here is the definition of “history”:

HISTORY  (HI’STORY)   n.s.[   historia, Latin; histoire, French.]

  1. A narration of events and facts delivered with dignity.
  2. Narration; relation.
  3. The knowledge of facts and events. 

Here are Shakespeare’s Histories. They were categorized as such in the first folio of his works: 

King John
Edward III
Richard II
Henry IV, Part 1
Henry IV, Part 2
Henry V
Henry VI, Part 1
Henry VI, Part 2
Henry VI, Part 3
Richard III
Henry VIII

These categories of the first folio have been set and accepted (with good reason) for centuries). “Contributors” on Wikipedia have nevertheless added six of the Tragedies to two new categories: “Roman Histories” and “Other Histories.”   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of particular note is the line about Titus Andronicus:

“Set in ancient Rome, Titus Andronicus dramatizes a fictional story and is therefore excluded as a Roman history.” 

The category of “Roman History” was created and then immediately contradicted leading to further subdivision (Titus Andronicus does not actually receive a “category” as a result thus I assume that it reverts to being a “Tragedy” as the folio says; this means that the circular exercise is pointless).

But it is understood that Titus Andronicus is a play. Plays do not “dramatize” anything. They are drama. This is understood about all of Shakespeare’s plays and all of every play that we attend to in a theater.

In any case, setting doesn’t matter. Setting does not affect whether something is a drama or not. The USS Starship Voyager encounters the Videans, a race that suffers from a deadly virus (the Phage) on stardate 48532.4. Star Wars is set “a long time ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.” Johann Herman Wessel’s 1781 play called Anno 7603 is set in the year 7603. In Mark Twain’s 1889 novel called A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, a man from Twain’s own time (the 19th Century) travels back to 528 AD. And in an episode called Times Arrow, (Star Trek The Next Generation) the crew of the Star Ship Enterprise is transported from their own present time (2369) to San Francisco in the year 1893 where they run into Mark Twain. 

Henry IV by Shakespeare is a play and a poetical work. The second edition (1587) of Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles, and Edward Hall’s The Union of the Two Illustrious Families of Lancaster and York are two acknowledged chronicles of history (The knowledge of facts and events) that Shakespeare turned to as sources for his play. Holinshed was a Chronicler and Hall was a lawyer, Member of Parliament and Historian while Shakespeare was a bard. The 1997 film Titanic (James Cameron) may be regarded as a history in the first two meanings of the word (1. A narration of events and facts delivered with dignity and 2. Narration; relation) but it is known to be a poetic work ( something which is made) and not a history or chronicle (concerned with relaying knowledge of the facts and events).

How do we know these things? How do we sift through these subtle differences with ease? The answer to both questions has to do with meaning, reason and common sense. These senses are the reason why, when we  say that we are going to the theater to see Henry the II, we are not understood to be saying that we are going attend the play in an operating theater. 

This (and many things which would otherwise require long-winded explications) is understood. It is understood implicitly without us having to explain the details. 

What can we know from art that we cannot know from science? The answer is to be found as follows (I have built upon inquiry by W. H. Auden which I will return to in the final lesson). 

I go in to see my physician. After a skin test, an x-ray and a blood test my doctor ells me that I have  been infected with Tuberculosis. The doctor can make this diagnosis because of the fact that he knows the bacteria in question (Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria), can recognize it. As it turns out, he can  also prescribe a treatment. 

The doctor can know and study the mycobacterium tuberculosis. The mycobacterium, cannot and does not know the doctor. 

Any subject which is studied scientifically cannot also study the scientist. The historian can study the Battle of Hastings. The Battle of Hastings cannot know the historian. The Astronomer can know about the rings of Saturn. The rings of Saturn do not know about the astronomer. 

On the other hand, there is the kind of knowledge which is meant by the following verse (from the bible):“AND Adam knew Eve his wife.” 

This is the sort of knowledge which I describe when I say that “I know Brian Smith” very well. In order for me to know Brian Smith very well, Brian Smith must also know me (and he must know me well if not very well). I have to be a part of a human beings’ life if I am to know that person. In order to know a human being, one must also be known to that person. This is the basis of the relationship between the artist who makes a work of art and the audience interacting with the artwork in question. 

On the most basic level, this also means that the artist must reveal himself (his personal vision of reality) in creating the work of art. This level is not a personal level and a personal vision of reality should not be confused with the personal life of the artist. 

The raven can be studied and known while the student cannot be studied and known by the bird. In Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, there exists a student and The Raven. Only the student knows that The Raven is a raven (because he defines it as such). Only the student knows the meaning of the word “nevermore.” Only the student can ascribe meaning to the reality which the poem communicates. To The Raven, the word “Nevermore” and all words ever made by human beings are mere sounds; sounds without meanings. The Raven contains within it ever human sound of every human language that has ever existed and will ever exist. It will be able to imitate the words of all languages that have been, are and will be spoken by human beings. Within the void of The Raven, all human expression is rendered meaningless by a natural order which human beings exert power over through the application of definition and meaning. The Raven is a repository of all things which should mean something rendered meaningless. 

It is a vacuum. With all these thoughts in mind, I would now like to look at The Raven with a view to meaning.

 

2. Once Upon a Midnight Dreary

The narrator of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Raven is, Poe tells us, a scholar. To understand some of Poe’s implications of what is meant here, we must look at the trajectory behind the composition of The Raven and his relationship with what is called “classical scholarship.” In an essay titled The Rationale of Verse, Edgar Allen Poe writes the following:

So general and so total a failure can be referred only to radical misconception. In fact the English Prosodists have blindly followed the pedants. These latter, like les moutons de Panurge, have been occupied in incessant tumbling into ditches, for the excellent reason that their leaders have so tumbled before. The Iliad, being taken as a starting point, was made to stand instead of Nature and common sense. Upon this poem, in place of facts and deduction from fact, or from natural law, were built systems of feet, metres, rhythms, rules, — rules that contradict each other every five minutes, and for nearly all of which there may be found twice as many exceptions as examples.

The scholar in the Raven appears to have a bust of the Greek goddess Pallas Athena just above his chamber door. Poe explains his choice: “the bust of Pallas,” he says, was “chosen, first, as most in keeping with the scholarship of the lover.” And now, turning back to the Rationale of Verse, one can read Poe’s thoughts on that which was termed “classical scholarship”: 

If any one has a fancy to be thoroughly confounded — to see how far the infatuation of what is termed ‘classical scholarship,’ can lead a book-worm in the manufacture of darkness out of sunshine, let him turn over, for a few moments, any of the German Greek Prosodies. The only thing clearly made out in them is a very magnificent contempt for Leibnitz’s principle of “a sufficient reason.

Let us now proceed with a definition-heavy approach to The Raven:     

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

“Napping” is the action of sleeping. 

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—

Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating

“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—

Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—

This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;

But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—

Darkness there and nothing more. 

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

 

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;

But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,

And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—

Merely this and nothing more.

This passage invokes an earlier work of mine (a work from 2004). This earlier work, for string orchestra, is called Memoriam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The reason for this clear allusion lies in Poe’s stated intent which I relied upon to guided me here. The idea of “Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance,” as he puts it below, is clearly established in it’s relationship to “Memoriam.” 

“It will be observed that the words, “from out my heart,” involve the first metaphorical expression in the poem. They, with the answer, “Nevermore,” dispose the mind to seek a moral in all that has been previously narrated. The reader begins now to regard the Raven as emblematical — but it is not until the very last line of the very last stanza, that the intention of making him emblematical of Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance is permitted distinctly to be seen:

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting,

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

And the lamplight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted — nevermore.”

The passage begins, however, with the words “Deep into the darkness peering.” The connection has to do with the following words which come from the prayer De Profundis: 

De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine; Domine, audi vocem meam!

Fiant aures tuae intentae

ad vocem obsecrationis meae.

Si delictorum memoriam servaveris, Domine!

In these words I found Memoriam and the work was given it’s name. In Evermore, I  wished to link the “Profundis” as in “the depth” with Poe’s initiation of the beginning of the end: Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing/ Doubting…” The doubting continues and the student turns back into the chamber taking the darkness with him. His 

“Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.

“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;

Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—

Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—

’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

When the stillness is finally broken, another passage from Memoriam is evoked. Her his the moment in  Evermore: 

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store

Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster

Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—

Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore

Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

Here I hope to demonstrate tangibly that  there are no “rules” that “scholars” and theorists can place upon music. I hope to do this by demonstrating the rules themselves and how they work in the theater. 

In all aspects of a musical composition, there will be expectations  which I will have built up through my engineering of the musical elements at my disposal in a particular way. The audience interacts with the rules and parameters and expectations exactly as one would do so while playing Super Mario Brothers or while watching Alien.

Here is the passage in Evermore: 

Here is the passage in Memoriam to which I refer. It follows a section of developmental music which imitates chaos. The Order of the Burial of the Dead is at hand. This passage is a funeral march which cadences as everyone would expect and as all persons who march in order to bury the dead have developed in their music. It is eight measures long. Grief and meter order us. We move on through a metered and ordered remembering (Memento Mori) of our humanity: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “rules” (expectations and intent) are essential here. In the corresponding passage from Evermore, the same impending mortality is established as we can hear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And yet different “rules” have been established (they have been set by you, my audience, and by me, your composer). If I followed the rules, the passage would sound ordinary. Like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instead, I offset the expected arrival (on the syllable “more”) by one beat. The narrator rushes to the end of the phrase and arrives at the cadence before the end of the measure: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But that’s not all. The bass (the very line which is meant to provide us with our harmonic footing, is removed entirely. I kick it out, so to speak, from under our feet: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, despite all this, I do cadence according to harmonic-series expectations (and according to the expectations which I have built up through my use of the musical elements in a particular way throughout this work. We have, on the beat of our cadence, all the material needed in order to create a  C Major (C, E natural, G) chord as well as everything we need for a C minor chord (C, E flat, G). They occur within the same beat and under the same bow stroke; in a single gesture, the audience will hear what is expected and another version of what is expected as follows: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The audience will hear what is expected and more. We also hear another version of what is expected in a manner that is not simultaneous but which creates the illusion of simultaneous expectations which oppose one another being heard at the same time. A pattern is established which plants the dissonance firmly in our ears Take a look at the pattern which I have connected with blue arrows below. The audience “hears” the dissonance in their mind’s ear and they hear it well. This is by design. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a pure musical expression of duplicity. There is no dissonance here. Like the student, we hear dissonance even through there is no dissonance there. We hear it by divining a pattern which allows us to hear the dissonance. The audience, of course, does this because I have designed it this was. The student (in the poem) divines patterns of destruction because he desires it. He always asks the same question desiring the same torturous answer. 

There is no dissonance on the page. There, really, is no C Major or C Minor to be found on the page either. This is an aural illusion whereby the audience hears C Major (red arrow) and C Minor (purple arrow) on an imaginary plane as follows [AUDIO EXAMPLE 32]:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being

Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—

Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,

With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only

That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.

Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—

Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—

On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”

Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

In Charles Swainson’s 1886 book “The Folk Lore and Provincial Names of British Birds,” he describes the Raven as follows: 

“Old English also used hræmn, hremm. The raven standard was the flag of the Danish Vikings. The Quran connects the raven with Cain’s murder of Abel; but in Christianity the bird plays a positive role in the stories of St. Benedict, St. Paul the Hermit, St. Vincent, etc. It was anciently believed to live to great old age, but the ancients also believed it wanting in parental care. The vikings, like Noah, were said to have used the raven to discover land. “When uncertain of their course they let one loose, and steered the vessel in his track, deeming that the land lay in the direction of his flight; if he returned to the ship, it was supposed to be at a distance.”

“Several reasons for Poe’s choice of bird for the harbinger of despair in “The Raven” are manifest: ravens can be taught to speak, they have a reputation for following armies and relishing death, and their dark plumage suggests melancholy and gloom. More subtle and ironic significance, however, can be found in the curious traditions which have accrued to this dark bird, associating him with wisdom, deviousness, and messenger service. In Hebrew folklore the raven, originally white, was turned black in punishment for not returning to the ark when Noah sent him out to check the flood conditions. His failure to return when he learned the waters were receding was attributed to bestial appetite, for which he was constrained ever after to feed on carrion.” 

The story, as it is written in Genesis, is clear. is that Noah sent a Raven out which did not return until the entire earth was dry again. In the meantime, he sent out a dove twice to “check” on the condition of the flood. The dove did this by flying and returning when she could not settle down. The raven returned to Noah when the conditions were safe because the raven has a longer flight time than the dove. 

Noah does not engage in any “punishment” of the raven nor does he condone anything of the sort. 

“And the waters receded from the earth gradually; and after the end of a hundred and fifty days the waters abated.

And in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Kardo.

And the waters decreased gradually until the tenth month; on the first day of the tenth month, the tops of the mountains were seen.

And it came to pass at the end of forty days that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made;

And he sent forth a raven which went to and fro, but did not return until the waters were dried up from the face of the earth.

Then he sent forth a dove from the ark, to see if the waters had abated from the face of the ground;

But the dove found no resting place for her foot, and she returned to him in the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. Then he put forth his hand, and took her, and brought her into the ark with him.

And he waited yet another seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark;

And the dove came back to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off; so

Noah knew that the waters had subsided from off the earth.

And he waited yet another seven days, and sent forth the dove; but the dove did not return again to him any more.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,

Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;

Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking

Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—

What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore

Meant in croaking 

“Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;

This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining

On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,

But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,

She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer

Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.

“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee

Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;

Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—

Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,

Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—

On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—

Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!

By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—

Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,

It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—

Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—

“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!

Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!

Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!

Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted—nevermore!

3. Definition

      1. Cain and Abel
      2. Berenice I, and Ptolemy
      3. Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204), wife of Henry II

Fact

      1. A thing done; an effect produced; something not barely supposed or suspected, but really done.
      2. Reality; not supposition; not speculation.
      3. Action; deed.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

quaint | kwānt |

adjective

attractively unusual or old-fashioned: quaint country cottages | a quaint old custom.

DERIVATIVES

quaintness | ˈkwāntnəs | noun

ORIGIN

Middle English: from Old French cointe, from Latin cognitus ‘ascertained’, past participle of cognoscere. The original sense was ‘wise, clever’, also ‘ingenious, cunningly devised’, hence ‘out of the ordinary’ and the current sense (late 18th century).

curious (adj.)

mid-14c., “subtle, sophisticated;” late 14c., “eager to know, inquisitive, desirous of seeing” (often in a bad sense), also “wrought with or requiring care and art;” from Old French curios “solicitous, anxious, inquisitive; odd, strange” (Modern French curieux) and directly from Latin curiosus “careful, diligent; inquiring eagerly, meddlesome,” akin to cura “care” (see cure (n.)).

The objective sense of “exciting curiosity” is by 1715 in English. In booksellers’ catalogues, the word was a euphemism for “erotic, pornographic” (1877); such material was called curiosa (1883), the Latin neuter plural of curiosus

Curious and inquisitive may be used in a good or a bad sense, but inquisitive is more often, and prying is only, found in the latter. Curious expresses only the desire to know; inquisitive, the effort to find out by inquiry; prying, the effort to find out secrets by looking and working in improper ways. [Century Dictionary]

curious | ˈkyo͝orēəs |

adjective

1 eager to know or learn something: I began to be curious about the whereabouts of the bride and groom | she was curious to know what had happened.

• expressing curiosity: a curious stare.

2 strange; unusual: a curious sensation overwhelmed her.

ORIGIN

Middle English: from Old French curios, from Latin curiosus ‘careful’, from cura ‘care’. curious (sense 2) dates from the early 18th century.

lore (n.)

Old English lar “learning, what is taught, knowledge, science, doctrine; art or act of teaching,” from Proto-Germanic *laisti- (compare Old Saxon lera, Old Frisian lare, Middle Dutch lere, Dutch leer, Old High German lera, German Lehre “teaching, precept, doctrine”), from PIE root *lois- “furrow, track;”

Let us now turn our attention fully to the following line:

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

To understand Poe’s use of the word word “nod,” we must go back to Genesis; the chapter which recounts Cain’s murder of his brother Abel:

 

1And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

2And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

3And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.

4And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

5But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

6And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

7If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

8And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

9And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?

10And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.

11And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;

 

Cain, the anti-poet, has committed an act of destruction upon the creation of the Supreme Being (he has murdered a creature of the Lord) and, in the following passage is banished to a nether realm of eternal and endless wandering; he is driven out from the face of the earth and banished from the face and recognition of God:

 

12When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.13And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment isgreater than I can bear. 14Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, thatevery one that findeth me shall slay me.15And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

 

And so, Cain is driven to the land of  “nod”; Poe renders this state as a dimension of mind between wakefulness and sleep (“while I nodded nearlynapping”)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The original English sense is obsolete; the meaning “bare, windswept” is from 1530s; figurative sense of “cheerless” is from c. 1719. The same Germanic root produced Middle English blake “pale” (Old English blac), but this fell from use, probably from confusion with blæc “black” (the surname Blake can mean either “one of pale complexion” or “one of dark complexion”). Bleak has survived, not in the “pale” sense, but meaning only “bare, barren.”

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—

Nameless here for evermore.

distinctly | dəsˈtiNGktlē |

adverb

in a way that is readily distinguishable by the senses; clearly: reading each word slowly and distinctly.

      • (used for emphasis) in a way that is very noticeable or apparent; decidedlyDistinct
        late 14c., “not identical, not the same,” also “clearly perceptible by sense,” past-participle adjective from obsolete distincten (c. 1300) “to distinguish one thing from another; make distinct,” from Old French distincter, from Latin distinctus, past participle of distinguere “to separate between, keep separate, mark off”rare (adj.1)
      • “unusual,” late 14c., “thin, airy, porous;” mid-15c., “few in number and widely separated, sparsely distributed, seldom found;” from Old French rere “sparse” (14c.), from Latin rarus “thinly sown, having a loose texture; not thick; having intervals between, full of empty spaces,” from PIE *ra-ro-, from root *ere- “to separate; adjoin” (source also of Sanskrit rte “besides, except,” viralah “distant, tight, rare;” Old Church Slavonic rediku “rare,” Old Hittite arhaš “border,” Lithuanian irti “to be dissolved”). “Few in number,” hence, “unusual.”nameless (adj.)
      • early 14c., “undistinguished,” from name (n.) + -less. Meaning “having no name” is early 15c.; that of “too abominable to be named” is from 1610s.

bleak (adj.)

c. 1300, bleik, “pale, pallid,” from Old Norse bleikr “pale, whitish, blond,” from Proto-Germanic *blaika- “shining, white” (source also of Old Saxon blek “pale, shining,” Dutch bleek, Old High German bleih, German bleich)

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating

“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—

Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—

This it is and nothing more.”

“The Latin motto of ” Berenice,” for example, from Ebn Zaiat, has not been found, but an interesting note on the original Arabic has been kindly furnished the editors by Dr. Richard Gottheil. It seems that Ebn Zaiat, whose real name was Muhammad ibn Abd Almalik ibn Alzaijat (or Azzaijat), Vezir under the Caliphs Almutassim Billahi and Alwathik Billahi, was very much in love with a slave and mourned her death ; his companions suggested that he should seek comfort at her grave ; on this he wrote, — ” My friends say — ‘ If thou wouldst only visit her grave;’ but I answered, — ‘Has she any grave other than my heart ? ‘ ” Kitab alaghanl, vol. xx. (cf. D’Herbelot, Bibliotheca Or/enta/is, ii. s. v. Zaiat).”

“late visitor” also “late visitor” 

rustle (v.)

“to emit soft, rapid sounds,” late 14c. (implied in rustling), of uncertain origin, perhaps imitative

purple (n., adj.)

Old English purpul, dissimilation (first recorded in Northumbrian, in Lindisfarne gospel) of purpure “purple dye, a purple garment,” purpuren (adj.) “purple,” a borrowing by 9c. from Latin purpura “purple color, purple-dyed cloak, purple dye,” also “shellfish from which purple was made,” and “splendid attire generally,” from Greek porphyra “purple dye, purple” (see porphyry), of uncertain origin, perhaps Semitic, originally the name for the shellfish (murex) from which it was obtained. Purpur continued as a parallel form until 15c., and through 19c. in heraldry. As a color name, attested from early 15c. Tyrian purple, produced around Tyre, was prized as dye for royal garments. Also the color of mourning or penitence (especially in royalty or clergy). Rhetorical for “splendid, gaudy” (of prose) from 1590s. 

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;

But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—

Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;

But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,

And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—

Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.

“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;

Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—

Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—

’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;

Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;

But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—

Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—

Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,

“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,

Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“ebony bird” 

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,

discourse (n.)

late 14c., “process of understanding, reasoning, thought,” from French discours, from Latin discursus “a running about,” in Late Latin “conversation,” in Medieval Latin “reasoning,” noun use of past participle of discurrere “to run about, run to and fro, hasten,” in Late Latin “to go over a subject, speak at length of, discourse of,” from dis- “apart” (see dis-) + currere “to run” (from PIE root *kers- “to run”).

Meaning “a running over a subject in speech, communication of thought in words” is from 1550s; sense of “discussion or treatment of a subject in formal speech or writing,” is from 1580s.

Here is a definition from the Oxford Dictionary (edition that is current to the time of writing): 

discourse

noun | ˈdisˌkôrs |

written or spoken communication or debate: the language of political discourse | an imagined discourse between two people traveling in France.

• a formal discussion of a topic in speech or writing: a discourse on critical theory.

  • Linguistics a connected series of utterances; a text or conversation.

 

This is the first collection of discourses with dozens of volumes to follow. 

ungainly (adj.)

1610s, “unfit, improper,” from Middle English ungeinliche, from ungein (late 14c.) “inconvenient, disagreeable, troublesome,” from un- (1) “not” + gein “kind, helpful; reliable; beneficial; suitable, appropriate; convenient,” from Old Norse gegn “straight, direct, helpful,” from Proto-Germanic *gagina “against” (see again). Old English had ungænge “useless, vain.”

fowl (n.)

Old English fugel “bird, feathered vertebrate,” from Proto-Germanic *fuglaz, the general Germanic word for “bird” (source also of Old Saxon fugal, Old Frisian fugel, Old Norse fugl, Middle Dutch voghel, Dutch vogel, German vogel, Gothic fugls “a fowl, a bird”), perhaps a dissimilation of a word meaning literally “flyer,” from PIE *pleuk-, from root *pleu- “to flow.”

Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;

For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being

Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—

Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,

With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only

That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.

Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—

Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—

On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”

Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

fly (n.)

Old English fleoge “a fly, winged insect,” from Proto-Germanic *fleugon “flying insect” (source also of Old Saxon fleiga, Old Norse fluga, Middle Dutch vlieghe, Dutch vlieg, Old High German flioga, German Fliege “fly”); literally “the flying (insect)” (compare Old English fleogende “flying”), from PIE root *pleu- “to flow,” which is also the source of fly (v.1).

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

aptly (adv.)

early 15c., “by natural means;” 1540s, “in a suitable manner,”

“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store

Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster

Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—

Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore

Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

dirge (n.)

c. 1200, dirige (the contracted form is from c. 1400), “that part of the Office for the Dead beginning with the antiphon for the first psalm of the first nocturn of matins,” from Latin dirige “direct!” imperative of dirigere “to direct” (see direct (v.)). The antiphon begins, Dirige, Domine, Deus meus, in conspectu tuo viam meam (“Direct, O Lord, my God, my way in thy sight”), from Psalms v.9.

Hence, broadly, “the funeral service as sung.” Transferred sense of “any funeral song or hymn, a song or tune expressing grief” is from c. 1500.

utter (v.)

“speak, say,” c. 1400, in part from Middle Dutch uteren or Middle Low German utern “to turn out, show, speak,” from uter “outer,” comparative adjective from ut “out” (see utter (adj.)); in part from Middle English verb outen “to disclose,” from Old English utan “to put out”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,

Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;

Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking

Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—

What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore

Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

velvet (n.)

early 14c., probably from Old Provençal veluet, from Vulgar Latin *villutittus, diminutive of Vulgar Latin *villutus “velvet,” literally “shaggy cloth,” from Latin villus “shaggy hair, nap of cloth, tuft of hair,” probably a dialectal variant of vellus “fleece,” from PIE *wel-no-, suffixed form of *uelh- “to strike”.

ABCBBB

AA,B,CC,CB,B,B

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;

This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining

On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,

But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,

She shall press, ah, nevermore!

[T]he legitimate, English sense of this word is to conjecture; but with us, and especially in New England, it is constantly used in common conversation instead of to believe, to suppose, to think, to imagine, to fancy. [Bartlett, “Dictionary of Americanisms,” 1848]

Here is the word as defined in a current version of the Oxford Dictionary:

guess | ɡes |

verb [with object]

estimate or suppose (something) without sufficient information to be sure of being correct: she guessed the child’s age to be 14 or 15 | [with clause] : he took her aside and I guessed that he was offering her a job.

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer

Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.

“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee

Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;

Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

nepenthes | nəˈpenTHēz |

noun

1 (also nepenthe) | nəˈpenTHēz | literary a drug described in Homer’s Odyssey as banishing grief or trouble from a person’s mind.

      • any drug or potion bringing welcome forgetfulness.

ἔνθ᾽ αὖτ᾽ ἄλλ᾽ ἐνόησ᾽ Ἑλένη Διὸς ἐκγεγαυῖα:

αὐτίκ᾽ ἄρ᾽ εἰς οἶνον βάλε φάρμακον, ἔνθεν ἔπινον,

νηπενθές τ᾽ ἄχολόν τε, κακῶν ἐπίληθον ἁπάντων.

Then Helen, daughter of Zeus, took other counsel

Straightway she cast into the wine of which they were drinking a drug

to quiet all pain and strife, and bring forgetfulness of every ill.

—Odyssey, Book 4, v. 219–221

In Isaiah Chapter 6: 

“IN the year that King Uzziah died I saw the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled his temple.

And above him stood the seraphim; each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he did fly.

And one called to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.

And the posts of the door shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

Then I said, Woe is me, I am dismayed; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar;

And he touched my mouth and said to me, Lo, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sins are forgiven.

And I heard the voice of the LORD, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

For the heart of this people is darkened and their ears are heavy and their eyes closed, so that they may not see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted and be forgiven.

Then I said, How long, O LORD? And he said, Until the cities lie waste without inhabitants and the houses without men and the land be utterly desolate

And the LORD shall have cast off men far away and there shall be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.

And they that remain in it shall be a tenth, and again they shall be burned and shall be made like the terebinth or like an oak which is fallen from its stump. The holy seed is the source thereof.

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—

Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,

Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—

On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—

Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Jeremiah Chapter 8: Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?

tempest (n.)

“violent storm,” late 13c., from Old French tempeste “storm; commotion, battle; epidemic, plague” (11c.), from Vulgar Latin *tempesta, from Latin tempestas “a storm, commotion; weather, season; occasion, time,” related to tempus “time, season”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!

By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—

Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,

It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—

Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

*sker- (2)

also *ker-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning “to turn, bend.”

It forms all or part of: arrange; circa; circadian; circle; circuit; circum-; circumcision; circumflex; circumnavigate; circumscribe; circumspect; circumstance; circus; cirque; corona; crepe; crest; crinoline; crisp; crown;  curb; curvature; curve; derange;  flounce (n.) “deep ruffle on the skirt of a dress;” krone; ring (n.1) “circular band;” ranch; range; ranger; rank (n.) “row, line series;” research; recherche; ridge; rink; rucksack; search; shrink.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin curvus “bent, curved,” crispus “curly;” Old Church Slavonic kragu “circle;” perhaps Greek kirkos “ring,” koronos “curved;” Old English hring “ring, small circlet.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—

“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!

Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!

Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!

Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Fiend 

Old English fēond‘an enemy, the devil, a demon’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch vijand and German Feind ‘enemy’.

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted—nevermore!

“still is sitting, still is sitting”: 

“Still is sitting”: It’s still there. 

“Still is sitting”: It is still (motionless). 

pallid | ˈpalɪd |

adjective

1 (of a person’s face) pale, typically because of poor health: his face, with its wrinkled, pallid complexion.

2 lacking vigour or intensity; insipid: a pallid ray of winter sun |.

Dicebant mihi sodales si sepulchrum amicae visitarem, curas meas aliquantulum fore levatas

Παλλας

Probably derived from a Greek word meaning “maiden”. In Greek mythology this was the name of a friend of the goddess Athena. Athena accidentally killed her, and subsequently took the name Pallas in honour of her friend.”

From Ancient Greek, πάλλειν (pállein, “brandishing”), derived from πάλλω (pállō, “to poise, sway, or swing”). Or possibly from παλλακίς (pallakís, “concubine”), most likely from Proto-Indo-European *parikeh₂ (“concubine, wanton woman”), related to Avestan 𐬞𐬀𐬌𐬭𐬌𐬐𐬁 (pairikā, “demonic courtesan”) and Parthian parik.

Dicebant mihi sodales, si sepulchrum amicae visitarem,
curas meas aliquantulum fore levatas.

Paraphrases William Jones very well: “First and foremost was that there must once have been a ‘mother’ tongue which, as the peoples who spoke it spread across the globe, evolved into a family of ‘daughter’ languages all of which, though they look different on the surface, are fundamentally related.”

“Since these languages can be found all over Europe and Asia, scholars ultimately settled on the term Indo-European for this culture, and Proto-Indo-European as the designation for the mother tongue itself.” The “culture” and the “mother tongue” did not exist and cannot be known by any sincere and truthful scholarship. This is all speculation, a point which KKKK makes clear: 

“While it would be better to call the language by the name its original speakers gave it, that isn’t possible since no one has as yet been able to figure out what that name was, or for that matter what the Indo-Europeans as a people called themselves.” It is evident (from the Geographical regions which are being treated, that the “Indo-Europeans” consist of nations and tribes that span three continents and have distinct and individual identities, languages and cultures all of their own. 

“Despite that, however, scholars were able to deduce much else about them. Indo-European theory rests on the fact that various languages from all across Eurasia, in lands as far apart as India and Iceland, show many essential similarities, enough that they must have originated as a single tongue at some point long ago.”

The point which I have highlighted in green does not logically follow from the thesis which I have highlighted in red. This is above and beyond the fact that the many cultures and languages which are being discussed also show an infinite (or near infinite) richness of diversity that far outdoes the “essential similarities” in sheer quantity of demonstrable facts which attest to this. 

“Once Jones’ successors began exploring the full linguistic record from this perspective, corroborating evidence started pouring in from all quarters. Parallels in vocabulary and grammar quickly emerged among foreign languages, particularly in what were then the oldest preserved tongues: Latin, Greek and Sanskrit. The last is the language of The Vedas, an ancient body of writings from India, and close analysis of its text showed that Sanskrit has a strong affinity with Latin and Greek.

 For instance, the Sanskrit word for “three” is trayas, clearly cognate with (i.e. from the same linguistic origin as) Latin tres and Greek treis, also words for “three.” Likewise, the Sanskrit sarpa, “snake,” obviously shares a common ancestor with the Latin serpens, the forebear of the English word serpent.” 

“In conclusion, who were the Indo-Europeans? The truth is, we do not know who they were, but we do know who they are: virtually everyone of us, at least in some way. Seen genetically, Indo-European heritage encompasses all peoples of Germanic or Scandinavian or southern Mediterranean or Persian or Russian or northern Indian descent, any of a wide range of national groups stemming from India to Iceland. Viewed culturally—that is, as part of a common civilization—everyone who speaks an Indo-European language, or has an innate cultural predilection for threes, is the heir of Indo-European might and main. From that perspective, it’s hard not to see Indo-Europeans everywhere!” 

Indo-European theory rests on the fact that various languages from all across Eurasia, in lands as far apart as India and Iceland, show many essential similarities, enough that they must have originated as a single tongue at some point long ago. Once Jones’ successors began exploring the full linguistic record from this perspective, corroborating evidence started pouring in from all quarters. Parallels in vocabulary and grammar quickly emerged among foreign languages, particularly in what were then the oldest preserved tongues: Latin, Greek and Sanskrit. The last is the language of The Vedas, an ancient body of writings from India, and close analysis of its text showed that Sanskrit has a strong affinity with Latin and Greek. For instance, the Sanskrit word for “three” is trayas, clearly cognate with (i.e. from the same linguistic origin as) Latin tres and Greek treis, also words for “three.” Likewise, the Sanskrit sarpa, “snake,” obviously shares a common ancestor with the Latin serpens, the forebear of the English word serpent.

Utah State University, 

http://www.usu.edu/markdamen/1320Hist&Civ/chapters/07IE.htm

Poe 

The Rationale of Verse 

“With the dénouement proper—with the Raven’s reply, “Nevermore,” to the lover’s final demand if he shall meet his mistress in another world—the poem, in its obvious phase, that of a simple narrative, may be said to have its completion. So far, every thing is within the limits of the accountable—of the real. A raven, having learned by rote the single word “Nevermore,” and having escaped from the custody of its owner, is driven, at midnight, through the violence of a storm, to seek admission at a window from which a light still gleams—the chamber-window of a student, occupied half in poring over admission at a window from which a light still gleams—the chamber-window of a student, occupied half in poring over a volume, half in dreaming of a beloved mistress deceased. ”

Excerpt From: Edgar Allan

Παλλας

Probably derived from a Greek word meaning “maiden”. In Greek mythology this was the name of a friend of the goddess Athena. Athena accidentally killed her, and subsequently took the name Pallas in honour of her friend.”

From Ancient Greek, πάλλειν (pállein, “brandishing”), derived from πάλλω (pállō, “to poise, sway, or swing”). Or possibly from παλλακίς (pallakís, “concubine”), most likely from Proto-Indo-European *parikeh₂ (“concubine, wanton woman”), related to Avestan 𐬞𐬀𐬌𐬭𐬌𐬐𐬁 (pairikā, “demonic courtesan”) and Parthian parik.

“Nevertheless, there is little difficulty or danger in suggesting that the “thousand profound scholars” may have failed, first because they were scholars, secondly because they were profound, and thirdly because they were a thousand — the impotency of the scholarship and profundity having been thus multiplied a thousand fold. I am serious in these suggestions; for, first again, there is something in “scholarship” which seduces us into blind worship of Bacon’s Idol of the Theatre — into irrational deference to antiquity; secondly, the proper “profundity” is rarely profound — it is the nature of Truth in general, as of some ores in particular, to be richest when most superficial; thirdly, the clearest subject may be overclouded by mere superabundance of talk. In chemistry, the best way of separating two bodies is to add a third; in speculation, fact often agrees with fact and argument with argument, until an additional well-meaning fact or argument sets every thing by the ears. In one case out of a hundred a point is excessively discussed because it is obscure; in the ninety-nine remaining it is obscure because excessively discussed. When a topic is thus circumstanced, the readiest mode of investigating it is to forget the readiest mode of investigating it is to forget that any previous investigation has been attempted.”

“Let’s begin by looking as what is today unknown about the Indo-Europeans. Simply put, there is still no unequivocal evidence from either historical or archaeological sources for exactly where, when or how the original speakers of Proto-Indo-European lived. No site, no technology, no extant historical text, no particular past event has as yet been definitively associated with the people whose descendants would later spread Indo-European culture and language across the entire globe. The Indo-Europeans are at present in strictest terms a linguistic phenomenon, which is not to say their culture never existed—there is overwhelming evidence it must have at some point in history and, without doubt, somewhere in Eurasia—but that’s not very precise.

Indeed, we cannot speak about Indo-European history and geography with certainty, which has not stopped scholars, however, from trying various means to determine the time and location of the original Indo-Europeans. For instance, based on calculations of the general rate at which languages change, attempts have been made to reason out how long ago Proto-Indo-European began to break apart. That is, by looking at how different its daughter languages are from one another, it may be possible to get a sense of the extent of time it took to create that number of variations in grammar and vocabulary evidenced in Indo-European languages.”

By the assistance of the tongue and the palate are produced two congenial founds, differing only as hard [or] soft ; and these two may be formed still deeper in the throat, so as to imitate, with a long vowel after them, the voice of a raven; but if, while they are uttered, the breath be harshly protruded, two analogous articulations are heard, the Second of which seems to characterize the pronunciation of the Arabs ; while the nasal sound, very common among the Persians and Indians, may be considered as the soft palate with part of the breath passing through the nose ; which organ would by itself rather produce a vocal sound, common also in Arabia, and not unlike the cry of a young antelope and some other quadrupeds. 

We come now to the first proper consonant of the Indian system, in which a series of letters, formed in the throat near the root of the tongue, properly takes the lead. This letter has the sound of our k and c in the words king and cannibal ; but there will be great convenience in expressing it uniformly by the second of those marks, whatever be the vowel following it. The Arabs, and perhaps all nations descended from Semites, have a remarkable letter sounded near the palate with a hard pressure, not unlike the cawing of a raven…

The third letter of the Roman alphabet was probably articulated like the kappa of the Greeks; and we may fairly suppose, that Cicero and Cithara were pronounced alike at Rome and at Athens the Welsh apply this letter uniformly to the same found, as in cae and cefn ; and a little practice will render such words as [cita^] and [cinnara] familiar to our eyes. 

“My companions told me, if I would visit my friend’s grave, 

    it might alleviate my worries a bit.”

bleak (adj.)

c. 1300, bleik, “pale, pallid,” from Old Norse bleikr “pale, whitish, blond,” from Proto-Germanic *blaika- “shining, white” (source also of Old Saxon blek “pale, shining,” Dutch bleek, Old High German bleih, German bleich), from PIE root *bhel-(1) “to shine, flash, burn,” also “shining white.”

The original English sense is obsolete; the meaning “bare, windswept” is from 1530s; figurative sense of “cheerless” is from c. 1719. The same Germanic root produced Middle English blake “pale” (Old English blac), but this fell from use, probably from confusion with blæc “black” (the surname Blake can mean either “one of pale complexion” or “one of dark complexion”). Bleak has survived, not in the “pale” sense, but meaning only “bare, barren.”

4. Marital Affairs; Theological Connections

The “marriages” of words and music as well as various “marriages” between languages are counterpointed by literal marriages between rulers and monarchs of various nations such 

The name “Leonore” was introduced to English (from French) by Eleanor of  Aquitaine who become wife to King Henry II. 

Eleanor now moved to Aquitaine to manage her unruly vassals: “Eleanor may well have welcomed the chance of autonomy, not to mention a more gracious mode of living than that experienced by Henry’s entourage, whose accommodation more often resembled a campsite than a court, but their marriage had always been based on business, and it was business that provided the primary reason for Eleanor’s removal from England.” (58)

“Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people restored?” 

Jeremiah chapter 8

mutter (v.)

early 14c., moteren “to mumble,” from a common PIE imitative *mut- “to grunt, mutter” (source also of Old Norse muðla “to murmur,” Latin muttire “to mutter,” Old High German mutilon “to murmur, mutter; to drizzle”), with frequentative suffix -er. 

never (adv.)

Old English næfre “never,” compound of ne “not, no” (from PIE root *ne- “not”) + æfre “ever” (see ever).

The “more” segment of this word is clear Old English: 

more (adj.)

Old English mara “greater, more, stronger, mightier,”
raven (n.)

Old English hræfn (Mercian), hrefn; hræfn (Northumbrian, West Saxon), from Proto-Germanic *khrabanaz (source also of Old Norse hrafn, Danish ravn, Dutch raaf, Old High German hraban, German Rabe “raven,” Old English hroc “rook”), from PIE root *ker- (2), imitative of harsh sounds (source also of Latin crepare “to creak, clatter,” cornix “crow,” corvus “raven;” Greek korax “raven,” korone “crow;” Old Church Slavonic kruku “raven;” Lithuanian krauklys “crow”).

“meant in croaking “Nevermore” 

The word “croak,” however, is traced back to Old English and, despite the fact that it’s sound clearly adheres to everything which is imitatively shared with the other imitative sounds above, it is excluded because it does not meet the “necessary criteria” for inclusion in the “PIE-root” club”:

croak (v.)

early 14c., crouken, of birds (crow, raven, crane), “make a low, hoarse sound,” imitative or related to Old English cracian (see crack (v.)). Of frogs, c. 1400. Meaning “forebode evil, complain, grumble” is from mid-15c., perhaps from the raven as a bird of foreboding. Slang meaning “to die” is first recorded 1812, from sound of death rattle.

And so, it can be seen that inclusions as well as exclusions are arbitrarily based on rules which are built on speculation and theory and that these theories are developed where there is so much concrete material  (and even living languages) that are just as ready to be studied seriously.

Surah 5 

“27. Recite to them the truth of the story of the two sons of Adam. Behold! they each presented a sacrifice (to Allah.: It was accepted from one, but not from the other. Said the latter: “Be sure I will slay thee.” “Surely,” said the former, “(Allah) doth accept of the sacrifice of those who are righteous.

28. “If thou dost stretch thy hand against me, to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against thee to slay thee: for I do fear Allah, the cherisher of the worlds.”

29. “For me, I intend to let thee draw on thyself my sin as well as thine, for thou wilt be among the companions of the fire, and that is the reward of those who do wrong.”

30. The (selfish) soul of the other led him to the murder of his brother: he murdered him, and became (himself) one of the lost ones.

31. Then Allah sent a raven, who scratched the ground, to show him how to hide the shame of his brother. “Woe is me!” said he; “Was I not even able to be as this raven, and to hide the shame of my brother?” then he became full of regrets-

32. On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.”

dreary (adj.)

Old English dreorig “sad, sorrowful,” originally “cruel, bloody, blood-stained,” from dreor “gore, blood,” from (ge)dreosan (past participle droren) “fall, decline, fail,” from Proto-Germanic *dreuzas (source also of Old Norse dreyrigr “gory, bloody,” and more remotely, German traurig “sad, sorrowful”), from PIE root *dhreu- “to fall, flow, drip, droop” 

soul (n.1)

“A substantial entity believed to be that in each person which lives, feels, thinks and wills” [Century Dictionary], Old English sawol “spiritual and emotional part of a person, animate existence; life, living being,” from Proto-Germanic *saiwalō (source also of Old Saxon seola, Old Norse sala, Old Frisian sele, Middle Dutch siele, Dutch ziel, Old High German seula, German Seele, Gothic saiwala), of uncertain origin.

Isaiah Chapter 6:

seraph (n.)

1667, first used by Milton (probably on analogy of cherub/cherubim), back-formed singular from Old English seraphim (plural), from Late Latin seraphim, from Greek seraphim, from Hebrew seraphim (only in Isaiah vi), plural of *saraph (which does not occur in the Bible), probably literally “the burning one,” from saraph “it burned.” Seraphs were traditionally regarded as burning or flaming angels, though the word seems to have some etymological sense of “flying,” perhaps from confusion with the root of Arabic sharafa “be lofty.” Some scholars identify it with a word found in other passages interpreted as “fiery flying serpent.”

שָׂרָף noun masculine

Isaiah 14:29 a serpent, usually venomous (possibly from above v, from burning effect of poison); — absolute ׳שׂ Numbers 21:8 (J E; on Arabic parallels see JacobArabic Dichter ii. 93, iv. 10 f.), apposition ׳נָחָשׁ שׂ Deuteronomy 8:15, plural הַנְּחָשִׁים הַשְּׂרָפִים Numbers 21:6; a flying serpent, or dragon, שָׂרָף מְעוֺפֵף Isaiah 14:29; Isaiah 30:6.

II. [שָׂרָף] noun masculine

Isaiah 6:2 plural שְׂרָפִים seraphim (probably akin to I. ׳שׂ, as beings originally mythically conceived with serpents’ bodies (serpent-deities, compare Isaiah 14:29; Isaiah 30:6), or (CheComm.) personified of lightning, compare arts. SERAPHIM, StrachanHast. DB CheEncy. Bib.; Di Marti and others compare also

saraph: to burn

Original Word: שָׂרַף

Part of Speech: Verb

Transliteration: saraph

Phonetic Spelling: (saw-raf’)

Short Definition: burned

verb burn (70 t. + בָּאֵשׁ, 2 t. + בְּמוֺאֵֿשׁ) (Late Hebrew (rare) = Biblical Hebrew; Assyrian šarâpu; Aramaic שְׂרַף (rare); pastedGraphic.png is absorb, consume); —2. a. with accusative of thing, usually to destroy, e.g. door Judges 9:52, house Judges 12:1; 1 Kings 16:18 (both with עַל person), Jeremiah 39:8 11t., compare passive participle Nehemiah 3:24, city Joshua 6:24; 1 Samuel 30:1,14 16t., compare passive participle 1 Samuel 30:3; Isaiah 1:7, chariots Joshua 11:6,9; 2 Kings 23:11; Psalm 46:10 (subject ׳י), idols, etc., Exodus 32:20 (accusative omitted), Deuteronomy 9:21 10t., roll Jeremiah 36:25,27,28,29,32, wood Isaiah 44:16,19 (both + בְּמוֺאֵֿשׁ), compare Psalm 80:17 (figurative), Jeremiah 51:32, hair Ezekiel 5:4; bones, to lime (as outrage) Amos 2:1; upon altars (in desecration) 1 Kings 13:2; 1Ki 23:16; 1Ki 23:20 2Chronicles 34:5; bodies, as funeral rite 1 Samuel 31:12 (rare custom, RSSemitic i. 353; 2nd ed. 372; but Klo Bu read יִשְׂמְּדוּ [= ׳יִס]; compare BenzArchaeology 163; Ency. Bib. DEAD NowArchaeology i. 188); ׳שׂ as funeral rite also (object omitted, probably spices, compare 2 Chronicles 16:14), with ל person mort. Jeremiah 34:5, + accusative of congnate meaning with verb שְׂרֵפָה2Chronicles 16:14 (compare שְׂרֵפָה); in ceremonial of P (never of burning sacrifice on altar, הִקְטִיר, compare הֶעְֶלֶה, but) chiefly (14 t.) of consuming refuse, especially unused portions of victims, etc. (to prevent use), and infected objects, Exodus 29:14,34 +, sometimes מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה Leviticus 4:12 (+ עַעֵָֿצִים), Leviticus 4:21 Leviticus 4:21 4t., etc., compare Ezekiel 43:21; also of burning red heifer (to produce ashes for purification) Numbers 19:5 (twice in verse); Numbers 19:3.

 Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.

“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;

Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—

Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—

’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

“To TWINKLE  (TWI’NKLE)   v.n.[twinclian, Saxon.]1. To sparkle; to flash irregularly; to shine with intermitted light; to shine faintly; to quiver.”

Dictionary of the English Language (Complete and Unabridged)

Samuel Johnson

tuft (n.)

“bunch of soft and flexible things fixed at the base with the upper ends loose,” late 14c., of uncertain origin, perhaps from Old French touffe “tuft of hair” (14c.), which is either from Late Latin tufa “a kind of crest on a helmet” (also found in Late Greek toupha), or from a Germanic source (compare Old High German zopf, Old Norse toppr “tuft, summit;”)

flit (v.)

c. 1200, flitten, flytten, flutten “convey, move (a thing) from one place to another, take, carry away,” also intransitive, “go away, move, migrate,” from Old Norse flytja “to remove, bring,” from Proto-Germanic *flutjan- “to float,” from extended form of PIE root *pleu- “to flow.” Intransitive sense “move lightly and swiftly” is from early 15c.; from c. 1500 as “remove from one habitation to another” (originally Northern English and Scottish)

*pleu-

Proto-Indo-European root meaning “to flow.” It forms all or part of: fletcher; fledge; flee; fleet (adj.) “swift;” fleet (n.2) “group of ships under one command;” fleet (v.) “to float, drift; flow, run;” fleeting; flight (n.1) “act of flying;” flight (n.2) “act of fleeing;” flit; float; flood; flotsam; flotilla; flow; flue; flugelhorn; fluster; flutter; fly (v.1) “move through the air with wings;” fly (n.) “winged insect;” fowl; plover; Pluto; plutocracy; pluvial; pneumo-; pneumonia; pneumonic; pulmonary. It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit plavate “navigates, swims;” Greek plynein “to wash,” plein “to navigate,” ploein “to float, swim,” plotos “floating, navigable,” pyelos “trough, basin;” Latin plovere “to rain,” pluvius “rainy;” Armenian luanam “I wash;” Old English flowan “to flow;” Old Church Slavonic plovo “to flow, navigate;” Lithuanian pilu, pilti “to pour out,” plauju, plauti “to swim, rinse.”

float (v.)

late Old English flotian “to rest on the surface of water” (intransitive; class II strong verb; past tense fleat, past participle floten), from Proto-Germanic *flotan “to float” (source also of Old Norse flota, Middle Dutch vloten, Old High German flozzan, German flössen), from PIE *plud-, extended form of root *pleu- “to flow.”

Pluto (n.)

Roman god of the underworld, from Latin Pluto, Pluton, from Greek Plouton “god of wealth,” from ploutos “wealth, riches,” probably originally “overflowing,” from PIE root *pleu- “to flow.” The alternative Greek name of Hades in his function as the god of wealth (precious metals and gems, coming from beneath the earth, form part of his realm).

shore (n.)

“land bordering a large body of water,” c. 1300, from an Old English word or from Middle Low German schor “shore, coast, headland,” or Middle Dutch scorre “land washed by the sea,” all probably from Proto-Germanic *skur-o- “cut,” from PIE root *sker- (1) “to cut.”

William X, eighth count of Poitou, and tenth duke of Aquitaine, was taken ill after drinking contaminated water. Realising he was dying, he made his will, bequeathing his domains of Poitou, Aquitaine and Glascony to his only child, Eleanor of Aquitaine. He told his friends to approach King Louis VI of France about the possibility of his son, Louis, marrying Eleanor. William died on 9th April, 1137. (1)

This territory was valued very highly. The chronicler, Ralph de Diceto, wrote: “Aquitaine overflows with riches of many kinds, excelling other parts of the western world… Its lands are fertile, its vineyards productive and its forests team with wild life…. It abounds with riches of many kinds, so excelling other parts of the western world that it is considered by historians one of the most fortunate and prosperous provinces of Gaul.” (2)

It is claimed that Eleanor upset Church leaders with her interest in fashionable clothes and Abbot Sugar remarked on how they could not understand how Christian women could borrow the skins of animals and the labour of silkworms to create superficial beauty. “Fire on a beauty that is put on in the morning and laid aside at night! The ornaments of a queen have no beauty like to the blushes of natural modesty which colour the cheeks of a virgin. Silk, purple and paint have their own beauty, but they do not make the body beautiful.” (14)p

Eleanor of Aquitaine also upset Pope Innocent II when she and her husband supported her sixteen-year-old sister, Petronilla, when she embarked on an affair with Count Raoul of Vermandois. According to John of Salisbury, Raoul “was always dominated by lust” and decided to divorce his wife, who was the sister of Count Theobald of Champagne. The Pope took the side of Theobald and excommunicated Louis, Raoul and Petronilla. (12)

This started a war between the two sides and in January 1143, King Louis VII led an army into Champagne and at Vitry-en-Perthois, set fire to the town that surrounded a castle owned by Theobald. It is estimated that around 1,250 people took refuge in the cathedral. However, the fire spread and the cathedral itself was engulfed in flames and its roof caved in and every soul trapped within its walls perished. Louis heard the screams of the dying and smelt their burning flesh and shed tears of horror and remorse, and it was reported that he was unable to speak for two days. Louis was so upset he immediately withdrew his troops and his excommunication was lifted. According to Alison Weir: “Louis… was a changed man. He cut off his hair and was shorn like a monk; he took to wearing the monastic’s coarse grey gown and sandals; he spent hours at prayer begging God for forgiveness, and was even more rigorous than before in the religious observances and fasts.” (13

“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,

Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Eleanor also Elinor, from Provençal Ailenor, a variant of Leonore, introduced in England by Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204), wife of Henry II. The Old French form of the name was Elienor.

Look at the words which replace “love” in the following pacts. 

“Political”:

Berenice I, (flourished c. 317–c. 275 BCE), queen of ancient Egypt, wife of Ptolemy I Soter, and mother of Arsinoe II and Ptolemy II Philadelphus.

Berenice arrived in Egypt in the retinue of Eurydice, Ptolemy’s second queen, whom he married as part of a political agreement with her father, Antipater of Macedonia. About 317 Ptolemy married Berenice. Probably because she was not of royal blood, a genealogy was fabricated to make her a half sister of the king. In 308 Berenice gave birth to Ptolemy II Philadelphus, and in 290 Ptolemy made her queen of Egypt. In 285 Ptolemy II was made coregent and successor to his father, bypassing Eurydice’s children. Ptolemy II’s second wife was his sister, Arsinoe II, also the child of Berenice. (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Berenice-I)

“Business”: 

Eleanor now moved to Aquitaine to manage her unruly vassals: “Eleanor may well have welcomed the chance of autonomy, not to mention a more gracious mode of living than that experienced by Henry’s entourage, whose accommodation more often resembled a campsite than a court, but their marriage had always been based on business, and it was business that provided the primary reason for Eleanor’s removal from England.” (58)

In 1167 Henry began a relationship with Rohese de Clare, Countess of Lincoln, and the sister of Roger de Clare, Earl of Hertford, who was said to be the most beautiful woman in England. Another mistress was Avice de Stafford. His main love was Rosamund de Clifford, the daughter of a a minor Norman knight, Walter de Clifford, who owned land in Herefordshire. Although during this period he was usually out of the country, he spent time with her in Woodstock whenever he could. (59)

Gerald of Wales called her “Rose of Unchastity” and claims Henry openly paraded her at his court as his mistress. (60) There are several stories about how Eleanor arranged for Rosamund to be murdered. (61) This included Eleanor going to meet Rosamund and offering her a choice between a dagger and a cup of poisoned wine. Another version is that Eleanor arranged for her to be bled to death. In reality Eleanor almost certainly never met her.”

https://spartacus-educational.com/spartacus-blogURL82.htm

https://epistolae.ctl.columbia.edu/letter/25284.html

MISERY is manifold. The wretchedness of earth is multiform. Overreaching the wide horizon like the rainbow, its hues are as various as the hues of that arch, as distinct too, yet as intimately blended. Overreaching the wide horizon like the rainbow! How is it that from Beauty I have derived a type of unloveliness? — from the covenant of Peace a simile of sorrow? But thus is it. And as, in ethics, Evil is a consequence of Good, so, in fact, out of Joy is sorrow born. Either the memory of past bliss is the anguish of to-day, or the agonies which are, have their origin in the ecstasies which might have been. I have a tale to tell in its own essence rife with horror — I would suppress it were it not a record more of feelings than of facts.

My baptismal name is Egæus — that of my family I will not mention. Yet there are no towers in the land more time-honored than my gloomy, grey, hereditary halls. Our line has been called a race of visionaries: and in many striking particulars — in the character of the family mansion — in the frescos of the chief saloon — in the tapestries of the dormitories — in the chiseling of some buttresses in the armory — but more especially in the gallery of antique paintings — in the fashion of the library chamber — and, lastly, in the very peculiar nature of the library’s contents, there is more than sufficient evidence to warrant the belief.

The recollections of my earliest years are connected with that chamber, and with its volumes — of which latter I will say no more. Here died my mother. Herein was I born. But it is mere idleness to say that I had not lived before — that the soul has no previous existence. You deny it. Let us not argue the matter. Convinced myself I seek not to convince. There is, however, a remembrance of ærial forms — of spiritual and meaning eyes — of sounds musical yet sad — a remembrance which will not be excluded: a memory like a shadow, vague, variable, indefinite, unsteady — and like a shadow too, in the impossibility of my getting rid of it, while the sunlight of my reason shall exist.

In that chamber was I born. Thus awaking, as it were, from the long night of what seemed, but was not, nonentity at once into the very regions of fairy land — into a palace of imagination — into the wild dominions of monastic thought and erudition — it is not singular that I gazed around me with a startled and ardent eye — that I loitered away my boyhood in books, and dissipated my youth in reverie — but it is singular that as years rolled away, and the noon of manhood found me still in the mansion of my fathers — it is wonderful what stagnation there fell upon the springs of my life — wonderful how total an inversion took place in the character of my common thoughts. The realities of the world affected me as visions, and as visions only, while the wild ideas of the land of dreams became, in turn, — not the material of my every-day existence — but in very deed that existence utterly and solely in itself.

* * * * * *

Berenice and I were cousins, and we grew up together in my paternal halls — Yet differently we grew. I ill of health and buried in gloom — she agile, graceful, and overflowing with energy. Hers the ramble on the hill [column 2:] side [[hill-side]] — mine the studies of the cloister. I living within my own heart, and addicted body and soul to the most intense and painful meditation — she roaming carelessly through life with no thought of the shadows in her path, or the silent flight of the raven-winged hours. Berenice! — I call upon her name — Berenice! — and from the grey ruins of memory a thousand tumultuous recollections are startled at the sound! Ah! vividly is her image before me now, as in the early days of her light-heartedness and joy! Oh! gorgeous yet fantastic beauty! Oh! Sylph amid the shrubberies of Arnheim! — Oh! Naiad among her fountains! — and then — then all is mystery and terror, and a tale which should not be told. Disease — a fatal disease — fell like the Simoom upon her frame, and, even while I gazed upon her, the spirit of change swept over her, pervading her mind, her habits, and her character, and, in a manner the most subtle and terrible, disturbing even the very identity of her person! Alas! the destroyer came and went, and the victim — where was she? I knew her not — or knew her no longer as Berenice. (Nameless here for evermore)

Among the numerous train of maladies, superinduced by that fatal and primary one which effected a revolution of so horrible a kind in the moral and physical being of my cousin, may be mentioned as the most distressing and obstinate in its nature, a species of epilepsy not unfrequently terminating in trance itself — trance very nearly resembling positive dissolution, and from which her manner of recovery was, in most instances, startlingly abrupt. In the meantime my own disease — for I have been told that I should call it by no other appellation — my own disease, then, grew rapidly upon me, and, aggravated in its symptoms by the immoderate use of opium (nepenthe), assumed finally a monomaniac character of a novel and extraordinary form — hourly and momentarily gaining vigor — and at length obtaining over me the most singular and incomprehensible ascendancy. This monomania — if I must so term it — consisted in a morbid irritability of the nerves immediately affecting those properties of the mind, in metaphysical science termed the attentive. It is more than probable that I am not understood — but I fear that it is indeed in no manner possible to convey to the mind of the merely general reader, an adequate idea of that nervous intensity of interest with which, in my case, the powers of meditation (not to speak technically) busied, and, as it were, buried themselves in the contemplation of even the most common objects of the universe.

To muse for long unwearied hours with my attention rivetted to some frivolous device upon the margin, or in the typography of a book — to become absorbed for the better part of a summer’s day in a quaint shadow falling aslant upon the tapestry, or upon the floor — to lose myself for an entire night in watching the steady flame of a lamp, or the embers of a fire — to dream away whole days over the perfume of a flower — to repeat monotonously some common word, until the sound, by dint of frequent repetition, ceased to convey any idea whatever to the mind — to lose all sense of motion or physical existence in a state of absolute bodily quiescence long and obstinately persevered in — Such were a few of the most common and least pernicious vagaries induced by a condition of the mental faculties, not, indeed, altogether unparalleled, but certainly bidding defiance to any thing like analysis or explanation. [page 334:]

Yet let me not be misapprehended. The undue, intense, and morbid attention thus excited by objects in their own nature frivolous, must not be confounded in character with that ruminating propensity common to all mankind, and more especially indulged in by persons of ardent imagination. By no means. It was not even, as might be at first supposed, an extreme condition, or exaggeration of such propensity, but primarily and essentially distinct and different. In the one instance the dreamer, or enthusiast, being interested by an object usually not frivolous, imperceptibly loses sight of this object in a wilderness of deductions and suggestions issuing therefrom, until, at the conclusion of a day-dream often replete with luxury, he finds the incitamentum or first cause of his musings utterly vanished and forgotten. In my case the primary object was invariably frivolous, although assuming, through the medium of my distempered vision, a refracted and unreal importance. Few deductions — if any — were made; and those few pertinaciously returning in, so to speak, upon the original object as a centre. The meditations were never pleasurable; and, at the termination of the reverie, the first cause, so far from being out of sight, had attained that supernaturally exaggerated interest which was the prevailing feature of the disease. In a word, the powers of mind more particularly exercised were, with me, as I have said before, the attentive, and are, with the day-dreamer, the speculative.

My books, at this epoch, if they did not actually serve to irritate the disorder, partook, it will be perceived, largely, in their imaginative, and inconsequential nature, of the characteristic qualities of the disorder itself. I well remember, among others, the treatise of the noble Italian Cœlius [[Cælius]] Secundus Curio “de amplitudine beati regni Dei” — St. Austin’s great work the “City of God” — and Tertullian [[Tertullian’s]] “de Carne Christi,” in which the unintelligible sentence “Mortuus est Dei filius; credible est quia ineptum est: et sepultus resurrexit; certum est quia impossibile est” occupied my undivided time, for many weeks of laborious and fruitless investigation.

Thus it will appear that, shaken from its balance only by trivial things, my reason bore resemblance to that ocean-crag spoken of by Ptolemy Hephestion, which steadily resisting the attacks of human violence, and the fiercer fury of the waters and the winds, trembled only to the touch of the flower called Asphodel. And although, to a careless thinker, it might appear a matter beyond doubt, that the fearful alteration produced by her unhappy malady, in the moral condition of Berenice, would afford me many objects for the exercise of that intense and morbid meditation whose nature I have been at some trouble in explaining, yet such was not by any means the case. In the lucid intervals of my infirmity, her calamity indeed gave me pain, and, taking deeply to heart that total wreck of her fair and gentle life, I did not fail to ponder frequently and bitterly upon the wonder-working means by which so strange a revolution had been so suddenly brought to pass. But these reflections partook not of the idiosyncrasy of my disease, and were such as would have occurred, under similar circumstances, to the ordinary mass of mankind. True to its own character, my disorder revelled in the less important but more startling changes wrought in the physical frame of Berenice, and in the singular and most appalling distortion of her personal identity.

During the brightest days of her unparalleled beauty, most surely I had never loved her. In the strange anomaly of my existence, feelings, with me, had never been of the heart, and my passions always were of the mind. Through the grey of the early morning — among the trellissed shadows of the forest at noon-day — and in the silence of my library at night, she had flitted by my eyes, and I had seen her — not as the living and breathing Berenice, but as the Berenice of a dream — not as a being of the earth — earthly — but as the abstraction of such a being — not as a thing to admire, but to analyze — not as an object of love, but as the theme of the most abstruse although desultory speculation. And now — now I shuddered in her presence, and grew pale at her approach; yet, bitterly lamenting her fallen and desolate condition, I knew that she had loved me long, and, in an evil moment, I spoke to her of marriage.

And at length the period of our nuptials was approaching, when, upon an afternoon in the winter of the year, one of those unseasonably warm, calm, and misty days which are the nurse of the beautiful Halcyon,* I sat, and sat, as I thought alone, in the inner apartment of the library. But uplifting my eyes Berenice stood before me.

Was it my own excited imagination — or the misty influence of the atmosphere — or the uncertain twilight of the chamber — or the grey draperies which fell around her figure — that caused it to loom up in so unnatural a degree? I could not tell. Perhaps she had grown taller since her malady. She spoke, however, no word, and I — not for worlds could I have uttered a syllable. An icy chill ran through my frame; a sense of insufferable anxiety oppressed me; a consuming curiosity pervaded my soul; and, sinking back upon the chair, I remained for some time breathless, and motionless, and with my eyes rivetted upon her person. Alas! its emaciation was excessive, and not one vestige of the former being lurked in any single line of the contour. My burning glances at length fell upon her face.

The forehead was high, and very pale, and singularly placid; and the once golden hair fell partially over it, and overshadowed the hollow temples with ringlets now black as the raven’s ring [[wing]], and jarring discordantly, in their fantastic character, with the reigning melancholy of the countenance. The eyes were lifeless, and lustreless, and I shrunk involuntarily from their glassy stare to the contemplation of the thin and shrunken lips. They parted: and, in a smile of peculiar meaning, the teeth of the changed Berenice disclosed themselves slowly to my view. Would to God that I had never beheld them, or that, having done so, I had died!

* * * * * *

“By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,”

The shutting of a door disturbed me, and, looking up, I found my cousin had departed from the chamber. But from the disordered chamber of my brain, had not, alas! departed, and would not be driven away, the white and ghastly spectrum of the teeth. Not a speck upon their surface — not a shade on their enamel — not a line in their configuration — not an indenture in their edges — but what that period of her smile had sufficed to brand in upon my memory. I saw them now even more unequivocally than I beheld them then. The teeth! — the teeth! — they were here, and there, and every where, and visibly, and palpably before me, long, narrow, and excessively white, with the pale lips writhing about them, as in the very moment of their first terrible development. Then came the full fury of my monomania, and I struggled in vain against its strange and irresistible influence. In the multiplied objects of the external world I had no thoughts but for the teeth. All other matters and all different interests became absorbed in their single contemplation. They — they alone were present to the mental eye, and they, in their sole individuality, became the essence of my mental life. I held them in every light — I turned them in every attitude. I surveyed their characteristics — I dwelt upon their peculiarities — I pondered upon their conformation — I mused upon the alteration in their nature — and shuddered as I assigned to them in imagination a sensitive and sentient power, and even when unassisted by the lips, a capability of moral expression. Of Mad’selle Sallé it has been said, “que tous ses pas etoient [[etaient]] des sentiments,” and of Berenice I more seriously believed que touts ses dents etaient des ideés.

And the evening closed in upon me thus — and then the darkness came, and tarried, and went — and the day again dawned — and the mists of a second night were now gathering around — and still I sat motionless in that solitary room, and still I sat buried in meditation, and still the phantasma (“linking fancy unto fancy) of the teeth maintained its terrible ascendancy as, with the most vivid and hideous distinctness, it floated about amid the changing lights and shadows of the chamber. At length there broke forcibly in upon my dreams a wild cry as of horror and dismay; and thereunto, after a pause, succeeded the sound of troubled voices intermingled with many low moanings of sorrow, or of pain. I arose hurriedly from my seat, and, throwing open one of the doors of the library, there stood out in the antechamber a servant maiden, all in tears, and she told me that Berenice was — no more. Seized with an epileptic fit she had fallen dead in the early morning, and now, at the closing in of the night, the grave was ready for its tenant, and all the preparations for the burial were completed.

“And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted—nevermore!”

With a heart full of grief, yet reluctantly, and oppressed with awe, I made my way to the bed-chamber of the departed. The room was large, and very dark, and at every step within its gloomy precincts I encountered the paraphernalia of the grave. The coffin, so a menial told me, lay surrounded by the curtains of yonder bed, and in that coffin, he whisperingly assured me, was all that remained of Berenice. Who was it asked me would I not look upon the corpse? I had seen the lips of no one move, yet the question had been demanded, and the echo of the syllables still lingered in the room. It was impossible to refuse; and with a sense of suffocation I dragged myself to the side of the bed. Gently I uplifted the sable draperies of the curtains.

As I let them fall they descended upon my shoulders, and shutting me thus out from the living, enclosed me in the strictest communion with the deceased.

The very atmosphere was redolent of death. The peculiar smell of the coffin sickened me; and I fancied a deleterious odor was already exhaling from the body. I would have given worlds to escape — to fly from the pernicious influence of mortality — to breathe once again the pure air of the eternal heavens. But I had no longer the power to move — my knees tottered beneath me — and I remained rooted to the spot, and gazing upon the frightful length of the rigid body as it lay outstretched in the dark coffin without a lid.

God of heaven! — is it possible? Is it my brain that reels — or was it indeed the finger of the enshrouded dead that stirred in the white cerement that bound it? Frozen with unutterable awe I slowly raised my eyes to the countenance of the corpse. There had been a band around the jaws, but, I know not how, it was broken asunder. The livid lips were wreathed into a species of smile, and, through the enveloping gloom, once again there glared upon me in too palpable reality, the white and glistening, and ghastly teeth of Berenice. I sprang convulsively from the bed, and, uttering no word, rushed forth a maniac from that apartment of triple horror, and mystery, and death.

* * * * * *

I found myself again sitting in the library, and again sitting there alone. It seemed that I had newly awakened from a confused and exciting dream. I knew that it was now midnight, and I was well aware that since the setting of the sun Berenice had been interred. But of that dreary period which had intervened I had no positive, at least no definite comprehension. Yet its memory was rife with horror — horror more horrible from being vague, and terror more terrible from ambiguity. It was a fearful page in the record of my existence, written all over with dim, and hideous, and unintelligible recollections. I strived to decypher them, but in vain — while ever and anon, like the spirit of a departed sound, the shrill and piercing shriek of a female voice seemed to be ringing in my ears. I had done a deed — what was it? And the echoes of the chamber answered me — “what was it?”

On the table beside me burned a lamp, and near it lay a little box of ebony. It was a box of no remarkable character, and I had seen it frequently before, it being the property of the family physician; but how came it there upon my table, and why did I shudder in regarding it? These things were in no manner to be accounted for, and my eyes at length dropped to the open pages of a book, and to a sentence underscored therein. The words were the singular but simple words of the poet Ebn Zaiat. “Dicebant mihi sodales si sepulchrum amicæ visit arem [[visitarem]] curas meas aliquantulum fore levatas.”* Why then, as I perused them, did the hairs of my head erect themselves on end, and the blood of my body congeal within my veins?

There came a light tap at the library door, and, pale as the tenant of a tomb, a menial entered upon tiptoe. His looks were wild with terror, and he spoke to me in a voice tremulous, husky, and very low. What said he? — some broken sentences I heard. He told of a wild cry heard in the silence of the night — of the gathering together of the household — of a search in the direction of the sound — and then his tones grew thrillingly distinct as he whispered me of a violated grave — of a disfigured body discovered upon its margin — a body enshrouded, yet still breathing, still palpitating, still alive!

He pointed to my garments — they were muddy and clotted with gore. I spoke not, and he took me gently by the hand — but it was indented with the impress of human nails. He directed my attention to some object against the wall — I looked at it for some minutes — it was a spade. With a shriek I bounded to the table, and grasped the ebony box that lay upon it. But I could not force it open, and in my tremor it slipped from out my hands, and fell heavily, and burst into pieces, and from it, with a rattling sound, there rolled out some instruments of dental surgery, intermingled with many white and glistening substances that were scattered to and fro about the floor.

5. A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE MYTHOLOGY OF ‘STAR WARS’ WITH GEORGE LUCAS

The Mythology of ‘Star Wars’ with George Lucas

June 18, 1999

TRANSCRIPT BILL MOYERS: Nestled into a rolling hillside north of San Francisco, Skywalker Ranch is the command center of George Lucas’ filmmaking empire. I first came here to interview Joseph Campbell, a friend and mentor to George Lucas. Twelve years later I came back, this time to interview the protégé. After a 22-year hiatus, George Lucas is back in the director’s chair with a new episode in his “Star Wars” epic, “The Phantom Menace.” I wanted to know why he thought the “Star Wars” saga had grasped such a hold on our collective imaginations. Over the course of an afternoon, we talked about myths and movies, fathers and sons, fantasy and imagination.

Joseph Campbell said that all the great myths, the primitive myths, the great stories, have to be regenerated if they’re going to have any impact, and that you have done that with “Star Wars.” Are you conscious of doing that? Are you saying, ‘I am trying to cre — recreate the myths of old? Or are you saying, ‘I just want to make a good action movie?’

GEORGE LUCAS: Well, when I did “Star Wars” I consciously set about to recreate myths and the — and the classic mythological motifs. And I wanted to use those motifs to deal with issues that existed today.

(Excerpt from “Star Wars”)

GEORGE LUCAS: What these films deal with is the fact that we all have good and evil inside of us and that we can choose which way we want the balance to go. “Star Wars” was made up of many themes. It’s not just a single theme. One is our relationship to machines, which are fearful but as — also benign and they’re — they’re an extension of the human, not mean in themselves. The — the issues of friendship and your obligation to your fellow man and to other people that are around you, that you have control over your destiny, that you — you have a destiny, that you have many paths to walk down and — and you may have a great destiny. If you decide not to walk down that path, your life might not be as satisfying as if you wake up and listen to your inner feelings and realize what it is that you have a particular talent for and what contributions you can make to society.

BILL MOYERS: One of the appeals of “Star Wars” originally was that it — it satisfied our craving to resolve our ambiguities.

(Excerpt from “Star Wars”)

BILL MOYERS: The good guys were good guys, the bad guys were bad guys. You used color to suggest some of this philosophy.

GEORGE LUCAS: Yeah. I use color a lot in — in my films. I’m very conscious of — of the design of my films.

(Excerpt from “Star Wars”)

GEORGE LUCAS: Tatooine is — is usually our home planet and there isn’t much there except a lot of brown sand. A very, very clean place.

(Excerpt from “Star Wars”)

GEORGE LUCAS: Death Star, the Empire, has been painted black or white or gray. There’s a lot of gray, but it’s colorless. The Emperor, I put in a splash of red. I mean, red is a — an aggressive color.

BILL MOYERS: When you were writing, did you have all of this in your mind before you got the pencil to the page, or were you making it up as you…

GEORGE LUCAS: Well, some artists — they see the picture whole, you know, completed. I see the picture in a fog. know sort of what it looks like, I know what’s there and so what I do is I say, ‘I want something — I want a costume that is very regal, very grand, very different from anything we see, but has a lot of cultural history behind it.’ So I don’t want to make something up. I want to use something that is from a — a living human culture. And in this particular case, I was looking for an Asian influence for the planet of Naboo, and so I go to the research library and I said, ‘Look allover Asia, even into the Middle East, all the way across into the islands to find me unique and interesting ceremonial costumes.’ I kind of had a rough idea of what it was, but not until I actually — we finished with it is it clear. It’s not like I’m working from a finished thing. I’m working from something where you have a lot of pieces and it’s vague and you try to put it together.

BILL MOYERS: Where do these rough ideas come from?

GEORGE LUCAS: Now that I don’t know. That’s a mystery.

BILL MOYERS: But 25 years ago, when you cast the original plot, you didn’t see these costumes? You didn’t see these characters, did you? That’s all. ..

GEORGE LUCAS: No. No. This is something I didn’t really do until I started to sit down and write this script.

(Excerpt from “The Phantom Menace”)

GEORGE LUCAS: I knew the basic story, how Darth Vader got to be Darth Vader.

(Excerpt from “The Phantom Menace”)

GEORGE LUCAS: But I didn’t have any details about what anything looked like. I knew there would be a — a slave owner. I didn’t know that he would actually run a junk shop and be blue and fly around on funny little wings.

BILL MOYERS: Are you conscious when you’re doing that of — a little bit of David and Goliath here, a little bit of Buck Rogers there, a little bit of Tarzan or Wizard of Oz here?

GEORGE LUCAS: What happens is that no matter how you do it, when you sit down to write something all other influences you’ve had in your life come into play. The things that you like, the things that you’ve seen, the things — the observations you’ve made. That’s ultimately what you work with when you’re writing. And you — you are influenced by the things that you like. Designs that you like, characters you like, moments that you remember, that you were moved by. It’s — it’s like trying to compose a — a symphony in a way.

BILL MOYERS: And do you have any sense of where that comes from in you. I mean, your own creative precincts?

GEORGE LUCAS: You know, the psychology of developing fantasies is a very interesting and delicate thing. I’ve come across people that have no imaginations at all and it’s a very interesting… .

BILL MOYERS: They become journalists.

GEORGE LUCAS: Well, it’s — it’s — it — I was shocked the first time I came across it. And — because I just assumed everybody had an imagination. And when you — you confront somebody who doesn’t, especially a child, it’s a very interesting and profound thing to me. It — an imagination is a — is a trait, you know. It’s like anything else. It’s a — it’s a — it’s a talent, or it’s an ability you have to cope. Like dreaming.

BILL MOYERS: The underwater world, for example, in “The Phantom Menace,” looks as if it’s a dream.

GEORGE LUCAS: Uh-huh.

BILL MOYERS: Where did that idea come from? Out of your own fantasy?

GEORGE LUCAS: You know, part of it is where can I go that I haven’t been before? And underwater was one of those places I hadn’t been before, but I wanted to create a very special, sophisticated but organic kind of a society down there.

(Excerpt from “The Phantom Menace”)

GEORGE LUCAS: We were using a kind of technology which had to be completely worked out. How do these bubbles exist under there? Where do they come from? What do they use for energy? The whole culture has to be designed. What do they believe in? How do they operate? What are the economics of the culture. Most of it doesn’t appear in the movie, but you have to have thought it through, otherwise there’s — something always rings very untrue or phony about what it is that’s going on. And one of the things I struggle for is to create a kind of immaculate realism in a totally unreal and fantasy world. It’s a science that I can make up. But once I make up a rule, then I have to live with it.

BILL MOYERS: Such as? The world according to George.

GEORGE LUCAS: Well — I mean, one of the rules is that there’s sound in space.

(Excerpt from “Star Wars”)

GEORGE LUCAS: So there’s sound in space. I can’t suddenly have spaceships flying around without any sound anymore because I’ve already done it. I’ve established that as one of the rules of the — of the — of my galaxy and I have to live with that.

(Excerpt from “Star Wars”)

GEORGE LUCAS: The technology of laser swords, what they can cut through, what they can’t cut through.

“The idea is that he would have a massive cylindrical machine in the center of his room — and in the center of that machine is a one-person bacta tank that looks out through a window onto the lava fields of Mustafar. It’s both a meditation and a healing chamber. There’s a lava river underneath, bottom-lighting the room earily. These arms would come down to pull apart the chamber the way you might seperate a pill capsule, and the bacta would leak out on the hot grills to create steam — partially because steam is so atmospheric and awesome, and partially because you don’t really want to see a naked Vader. But there would be hints and glimpses of his twisted body breaking through the steam. And then, at the end, you might barely read a silouette of the helmet as it comes down.”

Whitta also says the image of Vader in the take makes you realize that “he’s this crippled, broken, tragic figure.” Whitta says that when Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy saw the concept art for the bacta tank, she “really responded to the idea that Vader would choose for himself such a hellish kind of chamber.”

Original screenwriter Gary Whitta says the original idea was that Vader “would need to sometimes remove all of his armor to completely replenish his depleted body, but that his private place wasn’t actually an Imperial location–but we pictured it as this really dreadful place with Albert Speer-like brutalist architecture.”

The dark cubicle is illuminated by a single shaft of light which falls on the brooding Dark Lord as he sits on a raised meditation cube. General Veers enters the room and approaches the silent, unmoving Vader. Although seemingly very sure of himself, Veers is still not bold enough to interrupt the meditating lord. The younger general stands quietly at attention until the evil presence speaks.

————————————————

The Star Wars Legends Book titled Dark Lord; The Rise of Darth Vader,

“To the galaxy at large, Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker—poster boy for the war effort, the “Hero with No Fear,” the Chosen One—had died on Coruscant during the siege of the Jedi Temple.

And to some extent that was true.

Anakin is dead, Vader told himself.”

The book also characterizes Darth Vader as a tragic figure; a victim of the Emperor’s manipulative tactics.

And yet, if not for events on Mustafar, Anakin would sit now on the Coruscant throne, his wife by his side, their child in her arms … Instead, Palpatine’s plan could not have been more flawlessly executed. He had won it all: the war, the Republic, the fealty of the one Jedi Knight in whom the entire Jedi order had placed its hope. The revenge of the self-exiled Sith had been complete, and Darth Vader was merely a minion, an errand boy, allegedly an apprentice, the public face of the dark side of the Force.

The burns which Vader suffered on Mustafar burns are the result of a decision on the part of Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker).The key point is that the viewer of the movies (as well as the reader of the Legends) will have observed the injury as it occurred. We see Anakin choose to pick a fight with his own mentor and friend. But this is not all. This incident is described as an inevitable event:

“While he retained his knowledge of the Jedi arts, he felt uncertain about “sustain that power. How far he might have been now had fate not intervened to strip him of almost everything he possessed, as a means of remaking him!

Or of humbling him, as Darths Maul and Tyranus had been humbled before him; as indeed the Jedi order itself had been humbled.

Where Darth Sidious had gained everything, Vader had lost everything, including—for the moment, at least—the self-confidence and unbridled skill he had demonstrated as Anakin Skywalker.”

GENERAL GRIEVOUS: It won’t be long before the armies of the Republic track us here. I am sending you to the Mustafar system in the Outer Rim. It is a volcanic planet which generates a great deal of scanning interference. You will be safe there.

Vader’s hatred for Obi Wan Kenobi led him to literally leap into the flames after

14 EXT. MUSTAFAR-COLLECTION PANELS-DAY 

From their cables, ANAKIN and OBI-WAN both spot something that causes them to stop fighting. The lava river ahead drops off in a tremendous lava fall. 

SNAPPING AND METAL GROANS are heard as the main part of the collector starts to break away and move toward the lava fall. OBI-WAN looks around and sees a small floating platform making its way toward the tower. 

OBI-WAN does a double hack-flip and lands squarely on the floating platform. He immediately leans to one side and moves away from the tower. 

ANAKIN realizes he is doomed as the entire tower heads for the falls. In the distance he sees some CONSTRUCTION DROIDS. He swings back to the tower, climbs up and makes a running leap and miraculously lands on A WORKER DROID. The DROID is confused and chatters to his CO-WORKER. The giant collector goes over the lava flow and disappears in the mist of sparks below. 

OBI-WAN heads for the bank of the lava river, but Anakin’s DROID is faster. He catches up with his old Master. 

OBI-WAN and ANAKIN continue the swordfight. They battle away, balancing on the tiny platform and puzzled DROID. ANAKIN, standing on the Droid, approaches OBI-WAN on the work platform. 

OBI-WAN: I have failed you, Anakin. I was never able to teach you to think. 

ANAKIN and OBI-WAN confront each other on the lava river. 

ANAKIN: I should have known the Jedi were plotting to take over . . . 

OBI-WAN: From the Sith!!! Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil. 

ANAKIN: From the Jedi point of view! From my point of view, the Jedi are evil. 

OBI-WAN: Well, then you are lost! 

ANAKIN: This is the end for you, My Master. I wish it were otherwise. 

ANAKIN jumps and flips onto OBI- WAN’s platform. The fighting continues again until OBI-WAN jumps toward the safety of the black sandy edge of the lava river. He yells at Anakin. 

OBI-WAN: It’s over, Anakin. I have the high ground. 

ANAKIN: You underestimate my power! 

OBI-WAN: Don’t try it. 

ANAKIN follows, and OBI-WAN cuts his young apprentice at the knees, then cuts off his left arm in the blink of an eye. ANAKIN tumbles down the embankment and rolls to a stop near the edge of the lava. 

ANAKIN struggles to pull himself up the embankment with his mechanical hand. His thin leather glove has been burned off. He keeps sliding down in the black sand. 

OBI-WAN: (continuing) . . . You were the Chosen One! It was said that you would, destroy the Sith, not join them. It was you who would bring balance to the Force, not leave it in Darkness. 

OBI-WAN picks up Anakin’s light saber and begins to walk away. He stops and looks back. 

ANAKIN: I hate you! 

OBI-WAN: You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you. 

ANAKIN’S clothing blows into the lava river and ignites. Suddenly ANAKIN bursts into flames and starts SCREAMING. 

215 INT. MUSTAFAR-VOLCANO EDGE-DAY 

ANAKIN: This is the end for you, My Master. I wish it were otherwise. 

ANAKIN jumps and flips onto OBI- WAN’s platform. The fighting continues again until OBI-WAN jumps toward the safety of the black sandy edge of the lava river. He yells at Anakin. 

OBI-WAN: It’s over, Anakin. I have the high ground. 

ANAKIN: You underestimate my power! 

OBI-WAN: Don’t try it. 

ANAKIN follows, and OBI-WAN cuts his young apprentice at the knees, then cuts off his left arm in the blink of an eye. ANAKIN tumbles down the embankment and rolls to a stop near the edge of the lava. 

ANAKIN struggles to pull himself up the embankment with his mechanical hand. His thin leather glove has been burned off. He keeps sliding down in the black sand. 

OBI-WAN: (continuing) . . . You were the Chosen One! It was said that you would, destroy the Sith, not join them. It was you who would bring balance to the Force, not leave it in Darkness. 

OBI-WAN picks up Anakin’s light saber and begins to walk away. He stops and looks back. 

ANAKIN: I hate you! 

OBI-WAN: You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you. 

ANAKIN’S clothing blows into the lava river and ignites. Suddenly ANAKIN bursts into flames and starts SCREAMING. 

215 INT. MUSTAFAR-VOLCANO EDGE-DAY 

An Imperial Shuttle closes its wings and settles on the highest of the Mustafar Landing Platforms. A PLATOON OF CLONE TROOPERS exits the craft, followed by DARTH SIDIOUS. 

220 INT. MUSTAFAR-VOLCANO PIT-DAY 

DARTH SIDIOUS walks in front of the CLONE TROOPERS on his way to get to Anakin at the edge of the lava pit. 

221 EXT. MUSTAFAR-VOLCANO PIT-DAY 

DARTH SIDIOUS discovers what remains of ANAKIN and checks him out. He turns to the CLONES. 

DARTH SIDIOUS: Anakin! Anakin! There he is. He’s still alive. Get a medical capsule, immediately. 

CLONE CAPTAIN: Yes sir. Right away. 

Several of the CLONES rush off as DARTH SIDlOUS puts his hand on ANAKIN’s forehead.

Vader turned and moved for the hatch.

But this is not walking, he thought.”

“Long accustomed to building and rebuilding droids, supercharging the engines of landspeeders and starfighters, upgrading the mechanisms that controlled the first of his artificial limbs, he was dismayed by the incompetence of the medical droids responsible for his resurrection in Sidious’s lofty laboratory on Coruscant.

His alloy lower legs were bulked by strips of armor similar to those that filled and gave form to the long glove Anakin had worn over his right-arm prosthesis. What remained of his real limbs ended in bulbs of grafted flesh, inserted into machines that triggered movement through the use of modules that interfaced with his damaged nerve endings. But instead of using durasteel, the medical droids had substituted “an inferior alloy, and had failed to inspect the strips that protected the electromotive lines. As a result, the inner lining of the pressurized bodysuit was continually snagging on places where the strips were anchored to knee and ankle joints.

The tall boots were a poor fit for his artificial feet, whose claw-like toes lacked the electrostatic sensitivity of his equally false fingertips. Raised in the heel, the cumbersome footgear canted him slightly forward, forcing him to move with exaggerated caution lest he stumble or topple over. Worse, they were so heavy that he often felt rooted to the ground, or as if he were moving in high gravity.

What good was motion of this sort, if he was going to have to call on the Force even to walk from place to place! He may as well have resigned himself to using a repulsor chair and abandoned any hope of movement.

The defects in his prosthetic arms mirrored those of his legs.

Only the right one felt natural to him—though it, too, was artificial—and the pneumatic mechanisms that supplied articulation and support were sometimes slow to respond. The weighty cloak and pectoral plating so restricted “his movement that he could scarcely lift his arms over his head, and he had already been forced to adapt his lightsaber technique to compensate.

He could probably adjust the servodrivers and pistons in his forearms to provide his hands with strength enough to crush the hilt of his new lightsaber. With the power of his arms alone, he had the ability to lift an adult being off the ground. But the Force had always given him the ability to do that, especially in moments of rage, as he had demonstrated on Tatooine and elsewhere. What’s more, the sleeves of the bodysuit didn’t hug the prostheses as they should, and the elbow-length gloves sagged and bunched at his wrists.

Gazing at the gloves now, he thought: This is not seeing.”

“The pressurized mask was goggle-eyed, fish-mouthed, short-snouted, and needlessly angular over the cheekbones. Coupled with a flaring dome of helmet, the mask gave him the forbidding appearance of an ancient Sith war droid. The dark hemispheres that covered his eyes filtered out light that might have caused further injury to his “damaged corneas and retinas, but in enhanced mode the half globes reddened the light and prevented him from being able to see the toes of his boots without inclining his head almost ninety degrees.

Listening to the servomotors that drove his limbs, he thought: This is not hearing.

“The med droids rebuilt the cartilage of his outer ears, but his eardrums, having melted in Mustafar’s heat, had been beyond repair. Sound waves now had to be transmitted directly to implants in his inner ear, and sounds registered as if issuing from underwater. Worse, the implanted sensors lacked sufficient discrimination, so that too many ambient sounds were picked up, and their distance and direction were difficult to determine. Sometimes the sensors needled him with feedback, or attached echo or vibrato effects to even the faintest noise.

Allowing his lungs to fill with air, he thought: This is not breathing.

“Here the med droids had truly failed him.

From a control box he wore strapped to his chest, a thick cable entered his torso, linked to a breathing apparatus and heartbeat regulator. The ventilator was implanted in his hideously scarred chest, along with tubes that ran directly into his damaged lungs, and others that entered his throat, so that should the chest plate or belt control panels develop a glitch, he could breathe unassisted for a limited time.

But the monitoring panel beeped frequently and for no reason, and the constellation of lights served only as steady reminders of his vulnerability.

The incessant rasp of his breathing interfered with his ability to rest, let alone sleep. And sleep, in the rare moments it came to him, was a nightmarish jumble of twisted, recurrent memories that unfolded to excruciating sounds.

The med droids had at least inserted the redundant breathing tubes low enough so that, with the aid of an enunciator, his scorched vocal cords could still form sounds and words. But absent the enunciator, which imparted a synthetic bass tone, his own voice was little more than a whisper.

He could take food through his mouth, as well, but “only when he was inside a hyperbaric chamber, since he had to remove the triangular respiratory vent that was the mask’s prominent feature. So it was easier to receive nourishment through liquids, intravenous and otherwise, and to rely on catheters, collection pouches, and recyclers to deal with liquid and solid waste.

But all those devices made it even more difficult for him to move with ease, much less with any grace. The pectoral armor that protected the artificial lung weighed him down, as did the electrode-“studded collar that supported the outsize helmet, necessary to safeguard the cybernetic devices that replaced the uppermost of his vertebrae, the delicate systems of the mask, and the ragged scars in his hairless head, which owed as much to what he had endured on Mustafar as to attempts at emergency trephination during the trip back to Coruscant aboard Sidious’s shuttle.

The synthskin that substituted for what was seared from his bones itched incessantly, and his body needed to be periodically cleansed and scrubbed of necrotic flesh.

Already he had experienced moments of claustrophobia—moments of desperation to be rid of the suit, to emerge from the shell. He needed to build, or have built, a chamber in which he could feel human again … If possible.

All in all, he thought: This is not living.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This passage conveys the dearth of Darth Vader very well. 

This is not walking.

This is not hearing.

This is not seeing .

This is not breathing.

And finally: 

This is not living

Star Wars, Episode III:  Burnt Anakin head featurette

Dave Elsey:  Recreating things that you saw in the original movies, is really quite difficult, such as Darth Vader, Anakin. At the end of Return of the Jedi, when his helmet comes off and we see what he looks like, we’ve kind of had to do the earlier version of that. It’s very confusing because to look at it, I didn’t really think that it looked like he was burned—he had kind of a big gash down one side of his face and a gash on the top of his head but no real burns as far as I could see. So, to talk to George Lucas about that was really the only way we had of finding out what exactly was going on there. The only thing we disagreed over with were his eyebrows, actually. He had these big kind of bushy, black eyebrows and I said, “You know, I don’t think he’d really have those at the end of the fire. In fact, that would be the first thing to burn off.” So we decided those were gone, we lost those.

Every time we put the make-up on, it’s really the only time it can be used, because the pieces are very, very delicate, they’re made of foam latex, and the edges are tissue-thin so that we can lose them into the skin. When the make-up is removed, the whole piece is destroyed and it usually takes about a day to paint up one set of appliances to be stuck on the actor. We’ll have ten faces ready, and they’ll all be painted exactly the same. Every skin pore, every dot, every broken blood vessel, every single thing is all perfectly painted on there. And then when we stick it on, we know it’s going to be exactly the same every single day.

“One of the very first things George said was, ‘How are we going to do a PG burn?’ Even if you stylize it a little bit, you still have to make it quite graphic in order to make it really look like a fresh burn because when we see it, it’s just happened. So I went back to him and I said, “Look, how much can we get away with here and how nasty can we make it?” And he basically just said, “Do what you have to.”

Darth Vader’s rage:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxL8bVJhXCM

————————————————————

This moment is when Vader sees the light. It’s totally and utterly believable that he would turn on the emperor and be saved by his son. Here’s the exchange between Luke and his father (Vader) before leaving the Death Star: 

LUKE: “I’ll not leave you here. I’ve got to save you.”

VADER: ”You already have, Luke. You were right. You were right about me.”

At the end of that purge (Order 66) Anakin commits the ultimate atrocity that we see following an entire film in which he is depicted and written as a clearly ambitious and arrogant destabilizer who is frustrated with all other Jedi because he thinks that he knows better than them. Here is the ultimate display that should convince us beyond the shadow of any doubt that this man has charted his own path well before he learns of Padme’s death. 

The aesthetics of this moment are clear. Here is Anakin leading his armies into the Jedi Temple: 

Take that against Vader’s appearance in The New Hope:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ere is a superimposition to show the exactness of proximity:

During Order 66 (the command from Emperor Palpatine to destroy all Jedi), Anakin Skywalker commits an atrocity that truly solidifies him as the Sith apprentice, Darth Vader. At the command of Darth Sidious, the newly christened Darth Vader goes to the Jedi Temple and kills everyone he can find. As it turns out, “everyone” includes the “younglings”, the children who lived in the temple and studied to be Jedi.

One of the younglings, recognizing Anakin as a Jedi Master, goes to him and says, “Master Skywalker. There are too many of them. What are we going to do?” Anakin remains emotionless and he ignites his lightsaber before the scene cuts away.”

But, we are told, Anakin “does it all for Padmé”. Even worse, we are expected to believe that, from Anakin’s portrayal and therefore from his perspective: “the emperor made me do it.” And what is even worse than this is that we do believe it. By “we,” I mean millions and millions of people who find the Star Wars epic to be viable, touching and convincing (I include myself among those millions). What would cause us to find the lack of culpability on the part of (and eventual redemption of) a tyrannical mass-murderer convincing? 

Our belief is due, in no small part, to George Lucas’ consummate artistry as a director. But it is also due to an attitude which Lucas has so sensitively perceived on the part of the receiving side (the audience). This is an attitude which I believe is shared by Lucas himself. I am taking specifically about the want (if not the need) to believe. 

[Anakin stops Mace Windu from hurting the Chancellor, severing Windu’s hand. Palpatine drops his act and again strikes Windu with force-lightning]

Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious: [Triumphantly] POWER! UNLIMITED POWER! [sends Windu flying out the window to his death]

Anakin: [Horrified] What have I done…?!

Sidious: You’re fulfilling your destiny, Anakin. Become my apprentice. Learn to use the Dark Side of the Force.

Anakin: [exhausted] …I will do whatever you ask.

Sidious: Good!

Anakin: Just help me save Padmé’s life. I can’t live without her.

Sidious: To cheat death is the power only one has achieved, but if we work together, I know we can discover the secret.

Anakin: I pledge myself… to your teachings.

Sidious: Good. Good… The Force is strong with you. A powerful Sith, you will become. Henceforth, you shall be known as Darth…Vader.

Darth Vader: Thank you, my master.

Sidious: Rise…[Vader rises and Sidious goes to his desk] Because the Council did not trust you, my young apprentice, I believe you are the only Jedi with no knowledge of this plot. When the Jedi learn what has transpired here, they will kill us, along with all the Senators.

“Just help me save Padmé’s life. I can’t live without her.

Sidious: To cheat death is the power only one has achieved, but if we work together, I know we can discover the secret.

Anakin: I pledge myself… to your teachings.”

To be clear. That’s the moment of great crucial importance. Vader does it all, he says, because he can’t live without her. Here is what happens just a little while later. 

He betrays her just as he betrayed the Jedi and as he betrayed his friends and betrayed his family and pretty much everybody else. Padme is his excuse for seeking power and ambition and for being destructive. Yet he blatantly shows us that she is nothing but an excuse and that power and destruction is his first and last goal. More crucially, he convinces himself of this and emotionally responds to his own lie as someone who is fully convinced by it. That is linked to the arrogance of not being able to blame himself for any of his failings. 

A few stories later, immediately after Yoda dies and Luke, who, unlike his mother survived his father’s (Anakin/Vader’s) attack on him while he was still in the womb says this:

[Yoda has passed into The Force, Luke is sitting outside his hut with R2]

Luke: I can’t do it, R2. I can’t go on alone.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: [voice emanates from nowhere] Yoda will always be with you. [reveals himself as a spirit walking nearby]

Luke: Obi-Wan. Why didn’t you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father.

Obi-Wan: Your father was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true, from a certain point of view.

Luke: [incredulously] A certain point of view?

Obi-Wan: Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. Anakin was a good friend. When I first knew him, your father was already a great pilot. But I was amazed how strongly the Force was with him. I took it upon myself to train him as a Jedi. I thought that I could instruct him just as well as Yoda. I was wrong.

Luke: There is still good in him.

Luke goes in, against all odds, to “save” his father and we are given the ending that we want. We believe it because we want it and because the characters believe it. But we believe it despite the mass murder, betrayal of everything, destruction of entire races and planets and other activities Vader has been involved in for his whole life. 

We want to believe that all it takes is the kindness of a son for Vader to see the light and effect this moment:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

137  EXT ENDOR FOREST – NIGHT

Luke sets a torch to the logs stacked under a funeral pyre where his 

father’s body lies, again dressed in black mask and helmet. He stands, 

watching sadly, as the flames leap higher to consume Darth Vader — 

Anakin Skywalker.

In the sky above, fireworks explode and Rebel fighters zoom above the 

forest.

138  EXT EWOK VILLAGE SQUARE – NIGHT

A huge bonfire is the centerpiece of a wild celebration. Rebels and 

Ewoks rejoice in the warm glow of firelight, drums beating, singing, 

dancing, and laughing in the communal language of victory and 

liberation.

Lando runs in and is enthusiastically hugged by Han and Chewie. Then, 

finally, Luke arrives and the friends rush to greet and embrace him. 

They stand close, this hardy group, taking comfort in each other’s 

touch, together to the end.

Rebels and Ewoks join together in dancing and celebration. The original 

group of adventurers watch from the sidelines. Only Luke seems 

distracted, alone in their midsts, his thoughts elsewhere.

He looks off to the side and sees three shimmering, smiling figures at 

the edge of the shadows: Ben Kenobi, Yoda, and Anakin Skywalker

Anakin appears restored with the force

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a fascinating moment. Let us recall where we have come from. Here is an account from ScreenRant:

“While Darth Vader’s temper and violence often went hand-in-hand, there is one incredibly disturbing moment in Revenge of the Sith where he takes out his rage on his pregnant wife, Senator Padme Amidala. In a film that has its fair share of violence, this single moment stands out. After all, Vader seems to use his love for Padme as a shield as he descends into the dark side of the Force. It’s because of her and the fear of losing her that he needs power. However, in this pivotal moment, it becomes clear that Darth Vader is fueled by jealousy, anger, and a lust for power. He is willing to hurt or kill anyone who stands in his way, even the woman that he loves and the child(ren) that she carries. This is perhaps Darth Vader’s most disturbing betrayal of all, and reveals him to be the hypocrite that he is.”

As the Sith Lord’s new apprentice, he had taken the name Darth Vader before he set out to kill every Jedi who remained at the Jedi Temple. Now, so many years later, Vader reflected on all the Jedi he killed that day. Remembering the stunned expressions of Mace Windu as he fell from Palpatine’s office window and the screams of the Jedi younglings and their teachers, he felt no remorse. Just as he believed he had done his best to be a dutiful Jedi, he believed his actions as Palpatine’s apprentice were even more righteous.

Vader’s “conversion” or “salvation” is convincing to us because the scene of his unmasking and reconciliation is handled masterfully by Lucas. The unmasked Vader is played by Sebastian Shaw, one of the finest and most skilled actors alive. Shaw’s delivery is akin to Prospero in Shakespeare’s Tempest declaring that “all his charms are now overthrown.” The acting in this scene is a sharp contrast to David Prowse’s rigid movements (Prowse, a body builder and character actor played Vader in terms of choreography while James Earl Jones- another of our finest actors- voiced Vader). John Williams presents Vader’s leitmotif (the theme of the Imperial March) in the strings (playing using a technique called flautando which is used by composers to imitate the soft whistling of the flute). We then hear the theme in the flute and then in the French Horns (the softest of the brass); we hear the Imperial March played by every instrumental group which had not played it in the more than nine hours of the series which lead up to this moment. Finally, as Vader dies, we hear the March clearly and plainly as played by the most angelic of harps. Lucas also places this moment in a symmetrically vital spot. Just as the prequels (the first the movies) must culminate in the demoniacal transformation of Anakin into Darth Vader, the final three movies have to place his redemption (Anakin’s resurrection) in the same symmetrically sensible part of the series. The two scenes (at the end of the third and sixth movies respectively) are the lynchpins that hold this entire cycle together. 

But this mastery on the part of Lucas (if taken alone) is not enough to make Star Wars convincing. There had to be a willingness on the part of us, his audience, to believe in Vader’s redemption and salvation. Darth Vader is a character who, by all accounts, would be one of the worst mass-murderers in history if he was an historical figure among the nations of the world. And yet, we believe in his redemption. Lucas, through the force of his own sensitivity, understood that we would find the salvation of Vader by his son compelling. He understood this well enough to bet the entire series on it. 

And he was right.