Saturday, December 13, 2008

an omen of wickedness


the ravens, as a professional american football team, hail from the city of baltimore, which was also the home of that somewhat strange and macabre poet edgar allan poe (who, by the way, at the age of 26 married his 13-year old cousin). poe, of course, wrote "the raven," a famous poem about the black bird that landed upon his door and spoke only the word, "nevermore."
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the football team from baltimore, which arrived there in 1996 after escaping cleveland, derives its name from the previously mentioned poem. it is not at all unusual for teams to have names that represent some of the culture or history of the city that is their home. thus you have the steelers from pittsburgh, the texans from houston, the seahawks from seattle, etc. however, what is unusual in this particular case is that those charged with choosing a moniker for the newly formed team in 1996 settled on a bird that is the source of such disdain, even within the poem from which they get the name! here are a few quotes from poe's poem:
"ghastly grim and ancient raven..."
"this ungainly fowl..."
"ominous bird of yore..."
"this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird..."
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you see, right from the very beginning, from the conception of this team and its corresponding naming, there was a kind of ill will associated with the baltimore ravens. their very existence carries with it a literary sign and symbol, a nevermore-ish kind of haunting. they are, in every sense, an embodiment of evil portent and design; an omen of wickedness.
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i bring this up today because while i know you could guess that i am supporting the pittsburgh steelers in their attempt to defeat the ravens in baltimore tomorrow afternoon, what you might not have known is that this is much bigger than just rooting for a particular team: this is about good vs. evil, light vs. darkness, rooney vs. modell. what will begin at 4:15 tomorrow and finish a few hours later is no mere athletic contest. it is a battle of all that is right against all that is wrong. it is just that crucial.
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go steelers! beat the grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt crows!

3 comments:

pete s said...

I'm not even a football fan, much less a Ravens fan, but in the interest of history, Poe was actually from Boston and spent most of his life bouncing between several cities, and then died in Baltimore after living there for 14 years.

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greg. said...

which is why i did not say that balty was the birthplace of e.a.p. i simply called it his home, which is not at all untrue. the city does boast an edgar allan poe house and museum, and considers itself the "home" of the creepy writer who mostly bounced around. it is interesting that they would name their pro football franchise after a poem by a man that really didn't even hail from baltimore. i'm not sure how much thought went into that. but maybe the baltimore crabs just didn't have the same ring to it...

pete s said...

That's so funny. Richmond VA also has an Edgar Allen Poe museum. I'm starting to wonder if Edgar Allen Poe museums are like Steelers bars--there's one in just about every town you might visit, just in case.