The raven

The raven
A month of scariness cannot be complete, without the poem of poems as it comes to scariness: The raven. This poem was written by Edgar Allan Poe and many consider this poem as his best poem. The poem leans towards a story, such as many great poets in history wrote. This is Poe at his finest, although he did not consider this one to be his best poem.

A month of scariness cannot be complete, without the poem of poems as it comes to scariness: The raven. This poem was written by Edgar Allan Poe and many consider this poem as his best poem. The poem leans towards a story, such as many great poets in history wrote. This is Poe at his finest, although he did not consider this one to be his best poem.

About The raven

Where do we begin with our analysis of this poem? Many have analyzed this poem, even long before we started analyzing poetry. Many told us things about this poem, no other knew before. Would our analysis come as a surprise? Probably not, for the true Poe fans (there are lots of them).

Edgar Allan Poe, a poet who wanted to do nothing more than writing. He even did so, when his wife was terminally ill. It is said, that he wrote this poem, during that time. His wife Virginia was the third of his loved ones, who became sick. His mother, foster mother and brother all died of tuberculosis. Virginia did not survive. Was this perhaps the reason, he started writing this poem?

A magnificent poem, that is what it is. But, at the time he wrote it, not everyone thought it was so great. Poe was rejected by Graham’s Magazine. The American Review published this poem for the first time. Poe used a pseudonym (Quarles). The New York Mirror was the first magazine to publish the poem under the real name of the poet. This time, the poem could be read all over the United States. Companies started using parts of this poem in their ads and many tried parodies on this poem (The Owl, The Turkey, The Gazelle and The Parrot, to name but a few).

Even though became famous throughout the country, he did not really benefit from this. Poe, stubborn as he was, refused to write anything more than poetry. This left him nearly on the edge of bankruptcy. At that time, there were no restrictions to copying his work. Many did and almost none of them paid a decent amount of cash or royalties. His wife Virginia would die in 1847 of tuberculosis and Poe died two years later, only four years after the poem was first published.

But, did Poe really deserve all the credits? The talking raven, well that wasn’t really a new thing, right? Charles Dickens wrote about a talking raven before Poe did (Barnaby Rudge). The meter of the poem, also not really Poe’s own invention. This was the creation of the poetess Elizabeth Barrett Browning – Lady Geraldine’s Courtship to be precise. Poe did however dedicate this poem to this English poetess.

Why did Poe choose a raven? Probably for the same reason that Dickens did. Ravens can talk, if they are trained to do so. At the time Poe (and Dickens) lived, there weren’t really that many parrots around. These were kept in rich families and the poor masses had to do it with the ravens. Still, there might be another reason. A raven is considered something special, a kind of mystical bird.

Poetry Challenge – Fear

Yes, the poem had quite the impact. Poe would probably not have believed that this poem is still an inspiration for many. The poem is classic and timeless. It fits right in our month of fear, where we are hosting a Poetry Challenge (about fear).


The raven (first verse)
The first verse of “The raven” by Edgar Allan Poe.

The raven

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, 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 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 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 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 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 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 in 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!

— Edgar Allan Poe

The raven
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The raven
This poem is the most famous poem written by Edgar Allan Poe. Yet, this poem did not bring him fame and fortune.
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The Ministry of Poetic Affairs
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