'The Raven' by Edgar Allan Poe

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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."

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,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals 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
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed
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
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."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest 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 further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "other friends have flown
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

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'."

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and
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 lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls 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
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
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 in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked,
"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
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 lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Raven: A Masterpiece of Gothic Horror and Melancholy

It's hard to pick a favorite poem from the works of Edgar Allan Poe, but if I had to choose, it would be The Raven. This haunting and melancholic masterpiece of Gothic horror has been captivating readers for over 170 years, and it's easy to see why. With its vivid imagery, hypnotic rhythm, and unforgettable refrain, The Raven is a timeless classic that continues to resonate with readers today.

The Poem's Structure and Style

One of the first things that strikes the reader about The Raven is its distinctive structure and style. Written in trochaic octameter, the poem has a strong, driving rhythm that propels the reader forward. The use of internal rhyme and alliteration enhances the musical quality of the poem, while the repetition of the word "nevermore" creates a sense of ominous foreboding.

The poem is divided into eighteen stanzas, each consisting of six lines. The first and third lines of each stanza rhyme with each other, while the second, fourth, fifth, and sixth lines rhyme with each other. This creates a sense of symmetry and balance within the poem, while also reinforcing the hypnotic rhythm of the trochaic meter.

The Plot and Themes

On the surface, The Raven tells a simple story. A man is mourning the loss of his beloved Lenore when a raven appears at his door, tapping and rapping and repeating the word "nevermore." The man becomes obsessed with the bird and begins asking it questions, to which it always replies with the same word. The poem ends with the man sinking into despair and accepting that he will never be free of the raven's haunting presence.

But beneath this straightforward plot lies a complex web of themes and motifs. One of the most prominent themes in the poem is the theme of loss and mourning. The narrator is consumed with grief over the death of Lenore, and this grief drives him to madness. The raven, with its constant repetition of the word "nevermore," becomes a symbol of the narrator's inability to let go of his loss.

Another theme that runs throughout the poem is the theme of the supernatural. The raven is not just an ordinary bird; it is a symbol of death and the afterlife. Its appearance at the narrator's door is a sign that something otherworldly is at work, and its haunting presence throughout the poem creates a sense of unease and dread.

Finally, The Raven explores the theme of madness and obsession. The narrator's obsession with the raven drives him to the brink of insanity, and his repeated questioning of the bird becomes a desperate attempt to understand its significance. The poem raises questions about the nature of reality and the limits of human understanding, as the narrator struggles to distinguish between the supernatural and the mundane.

The Imagery and Symbolism

One of the most striking aspects of The Raven is its vivid and evocative imagery. From the first line, the poem immerses the reader in a world of darkness and gloom:

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

This opening stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, with its emphasis on darkness, dreariness, and the supernatural. As the poem progresses, the imagery becomes more and more vivid, creating a sense of atmosphere and mood that is both haunting and beautiful.

The raven itself is perhaps the most powerful symbol in the poem. It represents death and the afterlife, as well as the narrator's own obsession with his loss. The repetition of the word "nevermore" reinforces this symbolism, as each utterance of the word becomes a reminder of the finality of death and the impossibility of escape.

Other symbols in the poem include the bust of Pallas, which represents wisdom and intellect, and the shadow that the narrator sees on the floor, which symbolizes his own despair and hopelessness.

The Influence and Legacy of The Raven

The Raven was an instant success when it was first published in 1845, and it has remained one of Poe's most popular and enduring works. The poem has been adapted into countless films, plays, and musical compositions, and its influence can be felt in the works of countless other writers and artists.

The poem's impact on popular culture is perhaps best exemplified by its appearance in The Simpsons. In the episode "Treehouse of Horror I," a parody of The Raven is recited by Bart Simpson, with Homer as the narrator and Lisa as the raven. This playful homage highlights the enduring appeal of Poe's work and its ability to resonate with audiences of all ages and backgrounds.


In conclusion, The Raven is a masterful work of Gothic horror and melancholy. Its distinctive structure, vivid imagery, and haunting refrain have captivated readers for over 170 years, and its themes of loss, obsession, and the supernatural continue to resonate with audiences today. Whether read as a simple story or a complex exploration of human psychology, The Raven is a timeless classic that deserves its place in the canon of Western literature.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Raven: A Masterpiece of Gothic Literature

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" is a masterpiece of gothic literature that has captivated readers for over 170 years. First published in 1845, the poem tells the story of a man who is visited by a raven that speaks only one word: "Nevermore." The poem's haunting imagery, eerie atmosphere, and melancholic tone have made it one of the most famous and enduring works of American literature.

The poem begins with the narrator, a lonely and grief-stricken man, reading a book in his chamber on a "dreary" December night. He is mourning the loss of his beloved Lenore, who has died and left him alone in his sorrow. As he sits there, he hears a tapping at his chamber door. He opens it, but finds nothing there. He hears the tapping again, and this time he opens the door to find a raven perched on his window sill.

The narrator is initially amused by the bird's presence and begins to speak to it, asking it questions. However, the raven only responds with the word "Nevermore." The narrator becomes increasingly agitated and asks the raven if he will ever see Lenore again. The raven's response is always the same: "Nevermore."

The repetition of the word "Nevermore" is one of the most striking features of the poem. It creates a sense of foreboding and finality, as if the narrator's fate is sealed and there is no hope for him. The raven's refusal to give any other answer also suggests that the narrator is trapped in his grief and cannot move on from his loss.

The raven itself is a powerful symbol in the poem. In many cultures, ravens are associated with death and the afterlife. They are also known for their intelligence and their ability to mimic human speech. In "The Raven," the bird's black feathers and ominous presence create a sense of dread and unease. Its ability to speak only one word adds to its mystique and makes it seem almost supernatural.

The poem's setting is also significant. The narrator's chamber is described as "bleak" and "ghostly," with curtains that "thrilled" and a fire that "dying" cast "ghostly shadows" on the floor. The darkness and isolation of the room mirror the narrator's own emotional state. He is trapped in his grief and unable to escape the memories of his lost love.

Poe's use of language in the poem is masterful. He employs a variety of literary devices, including alliteration, repetition, and rhyme, to create a musical and rhythmic effect. The poem's meter is trochaic octameter, which means that each line has eight trochaic feet (a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable). This gives the poem a steady and almost hypnotic rhythm that adds to its eerie atmosphere.

The poem's structure is also noteworthy. It is divided into 18 stanzas, each with six lines. The first and third lines of each stanza rhyme, as do the second, fourth, and fifth lines. The sixth line of each stanza is shorter and does not rhyme with any of the other lines. This creates a sense of tension and instability, as if the poem is building towards a climax that never quite arrives.

One of the most intriguing aspects of "The Raven" is its ambiguity. The poem raises many questions that are never fully answered. Who is the narrator? What is the significance of the raven? Is the narrator really hearing the bird speak, or is he imagining it? These unanswered questions leave the reader with a sense of unease and uncertainty.

Some critics have suggested that the poem is a reflection of Poe's own struggles with grief and loss. Poe's life was marked by tragedy, including the death of his mother, his wife, and several other family members. It is possible that "The Raven" was a way for Poe to explore his own feelings of despair and hopelessness.

In conclusion, "The Raven" is a masterpiece of gothic literature that continues to captivate readers today. Its haunting imagery, eerie atmosphere, and melancholic tone make it a powerful exploration of grief, loss, and the human psyche. Poe's use of language, structure, and symbolism create a work of art that is both beautiful and unsettling. Whether read as a reflection of Poe's own struggles or as a universal exploration of the human condition, "The Raven" remains a timeless and unforgettable work of literature.

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