Of Ravens and Writing Desks (A Poem)

By Joyce Jacobo

[Author’s Note: Based on an argument or two I’ve heard about alternate solutions to the question of “How is a raven like a writing desk?” from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland series.]

How  (or so the riddle goes)

    is a raven like a writing desk?

Posed by The Mad Hatter

                 (with many Mad friends)

           to Alice

                   (whose sanity is theoretical)

   some say the answer is impossible

       akin to an optical illusion

           to boggle logical minds

I have heard the explanation


    that a link exists between them

         definite and reasonable—

               a famous poet by the name

                     of Edgar Allan Poe

For it is true             as highlighted

        by one thoughtful soul

  solitary Poe had success as a writer

          when he penned a poem

                   of heartbreaks

                          . . . and a raven

                   upon a desk late one evening

          and any desk

              regardless of shape or size

                     used for the act of writing

                           could in fact become

                                 a writing desk

In other words

    a raven is like a writing desk

          because Poe wrote on each of them

But           I suppose the question

      will always remain

          caught between a possible meaning

              and obscure nonsense

                  to reach a universal consensus—


14 thoughts on “Of Ravens and Writing Desks (A Poem)

    1. Thanks. I’ve heard a few alternative solutions to that riddle since then, and I guess Lewis Carroll supposedly once hinted that it was because they can both “produce a few notes.” But I love that this riddle can have a few solutions, including being unsolvable–unless the fact that it has several potential solutions is what actually makes it unsolvable. Then there is no true answer for it, in other words.

      Liked by 1 person

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