The Raven

The Raven

By Edgar Allan Poe

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 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, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal 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 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 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 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 the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther 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 fancy 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.”

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 lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls 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 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.”

“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 lamp-light 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!

Summary of The Raven

  • Popularity: Written by Edgar Allen Poe, “The Raven” is an excellent narrating poem, first published in 1845 in The New York’s The Evening Mirror. Since then, it has won accolades for the poet for its musicality, supernatural atmosphere, and odd narration. The poem shows the fear, uncertainty, and loneliness of a person who is a victim of unfortunate circumstances.
  • “The Raven” as a Melancholic Poem: This poem is about a person, who is traumatized by the death of his love. The speaker tries to escape from his despair through reading. He is disturbed by tapping on the door and window by the raven. Knowing that the raven can speak, he asks questions about Lenore and few more points to which the Raven, replies “Nevermore.” This reply leaves him heartbroken and infuriates him. He continues to feel the anguish for his loss. Hence, the melancholy feeling runs throughout the poem.
  • Major Themes: The major themes of the poem include death, rationality, irrationality, and The poem explores the effects of death that torment those left behind. As a rational and mature person, the narrator knows that he has lost Lenore for good. However, his strong desire of reunion compels him to ask irrational questions to the Raven. He is in the perplexed and wonders if the Raven is an angel, an evil creature, a prophet or a bird. The effectiveness of the thematic rendering shows the importance through vivid imagery and classical diction.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “The Raven”

Literary devices are used to bring richness and clarity to the texts. Edgar Allan Poe has also used various literary devices to make his poem extraordinary and to help readers interpret the poem. Here is the analysis of some of the devices used in “The Raven.”

  • Metaphor: The first metaphor used in this poem is the thirteenth stanza “To the fowl those fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core.” The second is used in the last stanza “And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming.” The poet here compares Raven’s eyes with fire and demon.
  • Personification: Personification is a device that gives human attributes to non-living things or animals such as “Quoth the Raven “Nevermore” where the Raven is given the ability to speak.
  • Allusion: Allusion is a brief and indirect reference to important texts, events, and For example, “Perched upon a bust of Pallas” shows the reference to Pallas which is one of the names given to an ancient Greek Goddess Athena, a goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and warfare.
  • Simile: The simile used in this poem is “On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before” here the poet compares his hope to a birds flight. It is often misunderstood as the Raven’s flight.
  • Imagery: Poe has skillfully used imagery to create images of the feeling of pain, horror, and grief while reading the poem. The following phrases “the silken”, “sad”, “uncertain” and “rustling of each curtain” are the best examples of imagery.
  • Alliteration: Alliteration is used to create musical effects in a literary piece. It is the repetition of the same consonant sounds in the same line such as /s/ in “from my books surcease the last sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore”, /w/ and /n/ sounds in “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary.”
  • Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds occurring closely in the same line such as the sound of /e/ in “dreary, weak and weary” and the sound of /o/ and /ee/ in “dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”
  • Consonance: It refers to the repetition of consonant sounds that come in quick occurrence in the same line such as /p/ and /d/ sounds in “I nodded nearly napping suddenly come a tapping” and /o/ sound in “On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore.”

In conclusion, it can be stated that Poe has skillfully used various elements of gothic fiction under cover of these literary devices, transforming this simple poem into a masterpiece.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “The Raven”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  • Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of different numbers of lines. There are 18 stanzas in this poem, and each stanza has six lines.
  • Rhyme Scheme: The whole poem follows ABCBBB rhyme scheme and AA, B, CC, CB, B, B for internal rhyme patterns. Examples of internal rhyme are the use of word “dreary” and “weary” in the same line. The use of “lore, door and again door” at the end of the second, fourth and fifth line is end rhyme pattern.
  • Trochaic Octameter: It means to have eight trochaic material feet in a line which means there is a stressed syllable and is followed by unstressed such as “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and wear.”
  • Stressed and Unstressed Syllables: These two types of syllables are used in trochee such as the first is stressed and second is unstressed syllable in “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary”. This pattern continues throughout the poem.
  • Repetition: There is a repetition of the line, “Quoth the Raven “Nevermore” in the text which has enhanced the musical quality of the poem.
  • Refrain: The lines that are repeated at some distance in the poems are called a refrain. The line “Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore” is repeated in the same words. Therefore, it has achieved the status of a refrain of this poem.

Quotes to be Used

The lines given below can be quoted when narrating a personal experience or adventure to an unknown place. It can also be used in a story or joke to describe a scary atmosphere.

“Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.”