This time of year, when famous people sit by the fire to read a famous poem aloud, it’s almost invariably “’Twas The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Moore. But legendary comics writer and author Neil Gaiman is offering up something decidedly different this yuletide season: a reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s immortal “The Raven,” a poem that usually gets more attention at Halloween. The eerie ode itself, with its lamentations for “the lost Lenore,” is not exactly heartwarming, but Gaiman’s motives are. Each year, the nonprofit organization Worldbuilders (“Geeks doing good”) auctions off the chance to have Gaiman read a poem or book of the winner’s choosing. This time around, the high bidder wanted “The Raven,” and Gaiman was happy to oblige. A video of Gaiman reading the Poe classic has been posted to the author’s own YouTube channel, where he writes:
The Worldbuilders charity passed its stretch goal of a million dollars, so I lit a whole bunch of candles, put on a coat once worn by a dead brother in the Stardust movie, and I read Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven” by candlelight.
Gaiman’s voice is uniquely suited for reading Poe, and the crackling fire in the corner will help viewers imagine how “each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.” The candles complete the mood, and there’s a painting directly behind Gaiman as he reads that stands in nicely for Lenore herself. And, after all, Poe did set his tale of woe and madness during “the bleak December,” so “The Raven” is wholly appropriate for the season.