Poe in Pop Culture: The Raven
One never knows which famous or infamous person who lived long ago is going to become “relevant” again. Edgar Allan Poe has never really lost his star power, the way he has been woven into the fabric of society is somewhat amazing. Some of his work has taken on lives of their own. In a way, he has never ceased being relevant.
“The Raven” is one of the most immortal literary works ever written. Maybe it’s that haunting and slightly musical repetition of “nevermore” that most draws admirers to this particular work. Even those who generally prefer less macabre work are drawn to “The Raven” and to Poe himself. This legendary writer has definitely found his place among modern art as well. Once “The Raven” was published, Poe became a household name. However, just because the poem was published in 1845 doesn’t mean it is any less popular now.
“The Raven” has more than three and a half hundred writing credits due to all the modern day references the poem has earned. There are many more than these few here, but we wanted to show you some of our favorites. They are a diverse group of references as well. Some you may have seen and some may have passed you by. Check them out:
#1- It would only make sense to list “The Raven” movie here. In this version, John Cusack stars as Poe. The psychological crime thriller depicts a murderer who takes cues from Poe’s writing. However, even though named after one of Poe’s most famous works, the movie takes a different direction than Poe’s actual life. In addition, his death and the events leading up to it have also been fictionalized for the sake of this film.
#2- Here’s one you may have never noticed or, if you did, you may not have put it together. The Nineties band Blues Traveler won a Grammy, their first, for “Run-Around” in 1994. The first line mimics the first line of “The Raven” with part of it exactly and part in similarity. It says, Some argue that “I woke with something in my head” is just another way of saying “while I wondered, weak and weary.” Maybe it is up to interpretation, but it sounds right to us.
#3- In the Halloween-themed installment of “The Simpsons”, Lisa reads Poe’s story to Bart and Maggie, her siblings, in the “Treehouse of Horror” episode. As it plays out, Bart turns into the raven while dad Homer takes on the narrator’s role with the voice of James Earl Jones conveying his thoughts with that unmistakable voice. Marge also appears as the late Lenore in a painting. Many see it as the Simpsons take on the iconic poem with a twist – instead of the raven saying “nevermore” it, of course, says “eat my shorts.”
#4- This one a lot of you reading may never even have heard of. During the Eighties, there was a show called “The Family” which was a spinoff of an even earlier show, “Carol Burnett Show.” Anyway, “The Family” featured a high school named Edgar Allan Poe with the apt mascot being a raven. In one episode, the school’s fight song is even revealed which uses several lines from “The Raven” to get its point across.
#5- This one has probably been seen by a lot more TV enthusiasts, especially those who watch “Supernatural.” The 2007 novel “Supernatural: Nevermore” is actually the first book in the series written by Keith RA DeCandido which the dark fantasy TV show is based on. The plot of the show follows two brothers who drive around solving supernatural events, specifically murders – sometimes even their own. “Nevermore”, as well as “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado” are some of Poe’s works which inspired murders on the show.
#6- Here’s one you may or may not know: The NFL’s Baltimore Ravens are actually named in honor of the literary writer. After all, Poe is actually buried in Baltimore. The literary reference won in a voting contest by an overwhelming landslide in which over thirty thousand people participated. Currently, the team only has one costumed mascot, named Poe. However, before 2008 there were three: Poe and his two brothers, Edgar and Allan.
#7- Another TV show using Poe references was “The Following” which ran for three seasons from 2013 until 2015. The crime drama used “The Raven” throughout all three seasons as its main theme. From the very first episode, agents show up to a crime scene with “Nevermore” written on the wall in blood. The perpetrator starts a murderous cult inspired by Poe as well. An apt ending to the last episode of the last season – “Quoth the raven…Nevermore” – was the series’ final words.
#8- Did you know Poe was also quoted in “Batman”? As a matter of fact, Poe has been referenced through DC Comics numerous times. At one time there was even a character with the same name who tried taking down Batman. In 1989’s version of “Batman”, the villainous Joker, played by Jack Nicholson, quoted “Take thy beak from out my heart”, which is a line from the infamous poem “The Raven.”