The Raven, a poem by E.A. Poe

Posted: October 19, 2011 in poetry
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EDGAR ALLAN POE

Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American author, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. He was born as Edgar Poe in Boston, Massachusetts; he was orphaned young when his mother died shortly after his father abandoned the family. Poe was taken in by John and Frances Allan, of Richmond, Virginia, but they never formally adopted him. He attended the University of Virginia for one semester but left due to lack of money. After enlisting in the Army and later failing as an officer’s cadet at West Point, Poe parted ways with the Allans. His publishing career began humbly, with an anonymous collection of poems, Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), credited only to “a Bostonian”.

Poe switched his focus to prose and spent the next several years working for literary journals and periodicals, becoming known for his own style of literary criticism. His work forced him to move among several cities, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. In Baltimore in 1835, he married Virginia Clemm, his 13-year-old cousin. In January 1845 Poe published his poem, “The Raven”, to instant success. His wife died of tuberculosis two years after its publication. He began planning to produce his own journal, The Penn (later renamed The Stylus), though he died before it could be produced. On October 7, 1849, at age 40, Poe died in Baltimore; the cause of his death is unknown and has been variously attributed to alcohol, brain congestion, cholera, drugs, heart disease, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis, and other agents. See more about Edgar Allan Poe in Wikipedia: Edgar Alan Poe’s Wikipedia page.

THE RAVEN, A POEM BY EDGAR ALLAN POE

“The Raven” is a narrative poem by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, first published in January 1845. It is often noted for its musicality, stylized language, and supernatural atmosphere. It tells of a talking raven’s mysterious visit to a distraught lover, tracing the man’s slow descent into madness. The lover, often identified as being a student, is lamenting the loss of his love, Lenore. Sitting on a bust of Pallas, the raven seems to further instigate his distress with its constant repetition of the word “Nevermore”. The poem makes use of a number of folk and classical references. See more about Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven in Wikipedia: The Raven

THE RAVEN
by Edgar Allan Poe
(First Published in 1845)

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 someone 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 forevermore.

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.

Illustration for Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”, by Gustave Doré (1832–1883)

Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing
 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, something 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 flutter,
 In there stepped a stately raven, of the saintly days of yore.
 Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
 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 craven,
 Ghastly, grim, and ancient raven, wandering from the nightly shore.
 Tell me what the lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore.”
 Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

Illustration for a French translation by Stéphane Mallarmé of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven”, by Édouard Manet (1832–1883) 

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 blessed 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 that 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 before;
 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 sad soul into smiling,
 Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
 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.”

Illustration for Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”, by John Tenniel (1820–1914)

Thus 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, O quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!”
 Quoth the raven, “Nevermore!”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!–prophet still, if bird or devil!
 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 devil!
 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.”

Illustration for Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”, by Gustave Doré (1832–1883)

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting–
 “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 door!”
 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 floor;
 And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
 Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Comments
  1. […] The Raven, a poem by E.A. Poe (marciokenobi.wordpress.com) Share this:EmailFacebookTwitterStumbleUponPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  2. Colin Maddy says:

    Hi, stumbled across this in an image search for Poe caricatures, I LOVE the image at the very top of this article,,, the clay-looking rendition of him with the raven sitting atop his head,,, would you be so kind as to tell me where this image comes from? who the artist is? any information you might have about it would be appreciated. I’d love to see more. You can reply via my email address – ColinSizzorhandz@aol.com … thank you!

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