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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 named 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 darkness 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 above 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
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.'
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 has 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 named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named 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!
A solitary figure sits alone in his chamber on a stormy night, tormented by the thoughts of his lost love, the beautiful Lenore. Suddenly, a menacing raven, a bird of ill-omen, flies through an open window and perches itself above the chamber door on the bust of Pallas. The protagonists asks himself aloud which could be the bird’s name and the bird replies with the famous phrase: "Nevermore!"
Then the protagonist begins to ask the raven questions about his life and his lost love, which are all answered with the same word, the only word the raven is able to speak. But the protagonist thinks of the raven as a prophet. Therefore the negative answers to all his questions destroy all hope for salvation.
According to J.R. Hammond The Raven “owed its origins to a review ofBarnaby Rudgewhich he [Poe] composed for Graham’s Magazine (Februrary 1841). In the course of this review he commented sifnificantly on the symbolical importance of the raven in Dickens’s novel.“1Hammond gives some more interesting information: Poe brooded on the idea of a poem about a raven and its symbolical importance for some years. He finished it in the house in which he had stayed with his aunt and his wife in New York of which furniture a bust of Pallas belonged to.
In 1842, when he began to write the poem, his wife was already heavily ill. Poe feared perhaps for Virginia’s life and there is no doubt that this personal experience had a grave influence on the design of the poem.
Edgar Allan Poe Wrote:
"I had gone so far as the conception of a Raven—the bird of ill omen—monotonously repeating the one word, "Nevermore," at the conclusion of each stanza, in a poem of melancholy tone, and in length about one hundred lines. Now, never losing sight of the object supremeness, or perfection, at all points, I asked myself—"Of all melancholy topics, what, according to the universal understanding of mankind, is the most melancholy?" Death—was the obvious reply. "And when," I said, is the most melancholy of topics most poetical?" From what I have already explained at some length, the answer, here also, is obvious—"When it most closely allies itself to beauty: the death, then, of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world—and equally is it beyond doubt that the lips best suited for such a topic are those of a bereaved lover.
". . . I determined to produce continuously novel effects, by the variation of the application to the refrain—the refrain itself remaining, for the most part, unvaried."
From "The Philosophy of Composition," which was first published in Graham's Magazine, April, 1846.
|Ketterer believes that the Raven represents the quest of the intellectual for knowledge (169); he equates it with the volumes of forgotten lore, and suggests that the "shorn and shaven" bird is intended to ridicule the student's reliance on knowledge. It is therefore ironic that the student mocks the raven's appearance, because in doing so, he is mocking himself (170).||
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
We read in Kesterson (117) that the student is reacting not only with mockery to that which he cannot understand—the unearthly presence of the raven in his chamber—but also with relief, because he had feared the ghost of Lenore at his door.
In Quinn, it is noted that Poe claimed to chose a raven because he needed a "non-reasoning creature, capable of speech" (441). In "The Philosophy of Composition" (above), Poe implies that he chose the raven because it is a bird of ill omen. I believe there is truth to both of these, although from what I have read of Poe, I think he would argue either for one or the other, depending on the mood he was in.
|"In ['The Raven'] are the uses of pictorialism to suggest the inner workings of a disturbed consciousness and also the religious necessity, the drive of a consciousness toward understanding" (Kesterson, 115)||
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
In Kesterson (118), Edward Davidson concludes that the poem is "a set of stages in the process of self-knowledge or the power of human consciousness to be aware not only of its being but even of its non-being." In the poem, the student is mourning Lenore's death, but does not really understand death. As the poem progresses, he begins to question both life and death, and the Raven's answers to these questions are actually from the student's own subconscious mind, which he soon loses as a result of these queries.
Davidson maintains that "the poem is a symbolic destruction of the mind by the impact of reality upon it." and adds that it raises the question "what is the relation between reality and the mind's ideas about reality?" (119). He adds that "imagination ... is neither entirely of the mind nor of the sensible world" (119). Davidson concludes that "'The Raven' is a virtual admission of universal disparity: the imagination is lost in the shadow that lies upon the floor, while the inanimate objects, bird and bust, stare out in triumphant rigidity."