"The Raven" is a narrative poem by American writer Edgar Allan Poe. First published in January 1845, the poem is often noted for its musicality, stylized language, and supernatural atmosphere. It tells of a distraught lover who is paid a mysterious visit by a talking raven. The lover, often identified as a student, is lamenting the loss of his love, Lenore. Sitting on a bust of Pallas, the raven seems to further antagonize the protagonist with its constant repetition of the word "Nevermore". The poem makes use of folk, mythological, religious, and classical references.
Poe claimed to have written the poem logically and methodically, with the intention to create a poem that would appeal to both critical and popular tastes, as he explained in his 1846 follow-up essay, "The Philosophy of Composition". The poem was inspired in part by a talking raven in the novel Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of Eighty by Charles Dickens. Poe based the complex rhythm and meter on Elizabeth Barrett's poem "Lady Geraldine's Courtship", and made use of internal rhyme as well as alliteration throughout.
"The Raven" follows an unnamed narrator on a dreary night in December who sits reading "forgotten lore" by a dying fire as a way to forget the death of his beloved Lenore. A "tapping at [his] chamber door" reveals nothing, but excites his soul to "burning". The tapping is repeated, slightly louder, and he realizes it is coming from his window. When he goes to investigate, a raven flutters into his chamber. Paying no attention to the man, the raven perches on a bust of Pallas above the door.
Amused by the raven's comically serious disposition, the man asks that the bird tell him its name. The raven's only answer is "Nevermore". The narrator is surprised that the raven can talk, though at this point it has said nothing further. The narrator remarks to himself that his "friend" the raven will soon fly out of his life, just as "other friends have flown before" along with his previous hopes. As if answering, the raven responds again with "Nevermore". The narrator reasons that the bird learned the word "Nevermore" from some "unhappy master" and that it is the only word it knows.
Poe wrote the poem as a narrative, without intentional allegory or didacticism. The main theme of the poem is one of undying devotion. The narrator experiences a perverse conflict between desire to forget and desire to remember. He seems to get some pleasure from focusing on loss. The narrator assumes that the word "Nevermore" is the raven's "only stock and store", and, yet, he continues to ask it questions, knowing what the answer will be. His questions, then, are purposely self-deprecating and further incite his feelings of loss. Poe leaves it unclear whether the raven actually knows what it is saying or whether it really intends to cause a reaction in the poem's narrator. The narrator begins as "weak and weary", becomes regretful and grief-stricken, before passing into a frenzy and, finally, madness. Christopher F. S. Maligec suggests the poem is a type of elegiac paraclausithyron, an ancient Greek and Roman poetic form consisting of the lament of an excluded, locked-out lover at the sealed door of his beloved.
Poe may also have been drawing upon various references to ravens in mythology and folklore. In Norse mythology, Odin possessed two ravens named Huginn and Muninn, representing thought and memory. According to Hebrew folklore, Noah sends a white raven to check conditions while on the ark. It learns that the floodwaters are beginning to dissipate, but it does not immediately return with the news. It is punished by being turned black and being forced to feed on carrion forever. In Ovid's Metamorphoses, a raven also begins as white before Apollo punishes it by turning it black for delivering a message of a lover's unfaithfulness. The raven's role as a messenger in Poe's poem may draw from those stories.
Poe capitalized on the success of "The Raven" by following it up with his essay "The Philosophy of Composition" (1846), in which he detailed the poem's creation. His description of its writing is probably exaggerated, though the essay serves as an important overview of Poe's literary theory. He explains that every component of the poem is based on logic: the raven enters the chamber to avoid a storm (the "midnight dreary" in the "bleak December"), and its perch on a pallid white bust was to create visual contrast against the dark black bird. No aspect of the poem was an accident, he claims, but is based on total control by the author. Even the term "Nevermore", he says, is used because of the effect created by the long vowel sounds (though Poe may have been inspired to use the word by the works of Lord Byron or Henry Wadsworth Longfellow). Poe had experimented with the long o sound throughout many other poems: "no more" in "Silence", "evermore" in "The Conqueror Worm". The topic itself, Poe says, was chosen because "the death... of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world." Told from "the lips ... of a bereaved lover" is best suited to achieve the desired effect. Beyond the poetics of it, the lost Lenore may have been inspired by events in Poe's own life as well, either to the early loss of his mother, Eliza Poe, or the long illness endured by his wife, Virginia. Ultimately, Poe considered "The Raven" an experiment to "suit at once the popular and critical taste", accessible to both the mainstream and high literary worlds. It is unknown how long Poe worked on "The Raven"; speculation ranges from a single day to ten years. Poe recited a poem believed to be an early version with an alternate ending of "The Raven" in 1843 in Saratoga, New York. An early draft may have featured an owl.
Parodies sprung up especially in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia and included "The Craven" by "Poh!", "The Gazelle", "The Whippoorwill", and "The Turkey". One parody, "The Pole-Cat", caught the attention of Andrew Johnston, a lawyer who sent it on to Abraham Lincoln. Though Lincoln admitted he had "several hearty laughs", he had not, at that point read "The Raven". However, Lincoln eventually read and memorized the poem.
"The Raven" became one of the most popular targets for literary translators in Hungary; more than a dozen poets rendered it into Hungarian, including Mihály Babits, Dezső Kosztolányi, Árpád Tóth, and György Faludy. Balázs Birtalan wrote its paraphrasis from the raven's point of view, with the motto Audiatur et altera pars ("let the other side be heard as well").
The painter Paul Gauguin painted a nude portrait of his teenage wife in Tahiti in 1897 titled Nevermore, featuring a raven perched within the room. At the time the couple were mourning the loss of their first child together and Gauguin the loss of his favourite daughter back in Europe.
London, 1964. An ancient ruby is stolen from the British Museum. At the crime scene: a raven feather. Is somebody trying to follow in the footsteps of The Raven, the legendary master thief who disappeared years before?
The narrator perceives the Raven as a wandering ancient creature. In Genesis 8:7, Noah sends a dove and a raven in opposite directions to test if the water had receded enough for his family and the animals to leave the ark. The dove remains famous for returning and signaling the end of the flood. The raven never returns to the ark, and is lost to the night. Referencing the grim associations given to the bird since Greek mythology draws on a long standing history that relates this bird to wandering, absence, and omens.
Janeway, a scientist herself by training, recalls that the ornithological description matches that of a crow or a raven. Epiphany hits her. She now knows exactly where Seven is going and what has triggered her behavior. She and Kim rush to the bridge, where she orders scans for Starfleet vessels other than the two shuttlecraft, and then has the officer at the helm set a course for B'omar space.
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."
This document was downloaded from Lit2Go, a free online collection of stories and poems in Mp3 (audiobook) format published by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology. For more information, including classroom activities, readability data, and original sources, please visit -works-of-edgar-allan-poe/5352/the-raven/.
The names of our current Tower ravens are Jubilee, Harris, Poppy, Georgie, Edgar and Branwen. They are currently being kept in isolation for their own safety due to the recent avian flu outbreak, but we have enlarged their enclosures to offer them more space to stretch their wings and socialise with each other.
The Ravenmaster occasionally trims some of the ravens' primary and secondary flight feathers to encourage them to stay at the Tower. All the Tower ravens are able to fly but, with careful feather management, plenty of food and a comfortable new enclosure, they are happy to call the Tower their home.
However, some ravens have gone absent without leave in the past and others have even been sacked. Raven Muninn flew off to Greenwich and was eventually returned by a vigilant member of the public after seven days. Raven George was dismissed for eating television aerials and Raven Grog was last seen outside an East End pub. 041b061a72