Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven (2023)

The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe, is one of American literature’s best known poems. Poe (1809–1849) is a revered author and is best known for his works related to mystery, horror, and suspense.

Looking for a dark, mysterious Halloween poem? Seek no further! Poe’s The Raven is the right choice.

Perhaps his most famous work, The Raven – an 18 stanza poem – is a dark tale about a man tormented by a raven (= a black bird) who speaks to him, but has just one word – “nevermore.” Between the frightening bird and the death of his beautiful young wife, Lenore, the man slowly descends into madness. He feels that he will never be free from the grief of his lost love. The poem The Raven is one of the most easily recognisable pieces of literature, and is the perfect reading to get you in a creepy Halloween mood.

Read The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. Enjoy the spooky pleasures of the complete poem – all 18 stanzas – then check out the vocabulary and video.

Stanza 1

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.”

Stanza 2

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.

Get ready for Edgar Allan Poe’s skillful use of the rhetorical device known as alliteration; you hear it in the repeated initial S sounds in the next line.

Stanza 3

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.”

Stanza 4

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.

(Video) THE RAVEN by Edgar Allan Poe (Best Reading)

Stanza 5

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.

Stanza 6

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!”

Stanza 7

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.

Stanza 8

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.”

Stanza 9

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.”

Stanza 10

(Video) Edgar Allan Poe-The Raven- Read by James Earl Jones

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.”

You have reached the halfway mark in The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. Keep reading! If you are not reading the poem aloud, begin now. The rhythm is easy to follow. Give yourself permission to be dramatic and read it by candlelight on Halloween.

Stanza 11

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’.”

Stanza 12

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.”

Stanza 13

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!

In the next stanza, Poe uses an old English word, “methought” (I thought) to enhance the sense of an old, almost ancient tale.

Stanza 14

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.”

In the next stanza of The Raven, Poe asks if there is any hope of escape from this sorrow by using 2 biblical references (“prophet” and “balm in Gilead”). Poe’s poem is unquestionably autobiographical as he had, in fact, lost his own beautiful young wife to an early death.

Stanza 15

“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.”

Stanza16

“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.”

(Video) Edgar Allan Poe's THE RAVEN

Stanza 17

“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.”

Stanza 18

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!

The end: The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Now dive into the beautiful, brooding vocabulary of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.

1. Dreary
To be very dull, and boring, and often repetitive, in a depressing way.
Example: The weather was so cold and dreary this morning, I really didn’t want to get out of bed.

2. Weary
A feeling of extreme tiredness, usually after some kind of exhausting task.
Example: He looked at the hundreds of unread emails in his inbox, and let out a long, weary sigh.

3. Lore
A collection of knowledge or tradition, typically very old, and passed down through generations.
Example: Did you know that Halloween lore began in Ireland, with the pagan festival of Samhain?

4. Rapping (to rap)
No hip-hop to be found here, this is another verb to describe the action of knocking, usually with short and sharp sounds.
Example: The trick-or-treaters were eager for their treats on Halloween, and rapped eagerly on their neighbour’s door.

5. Bleak
Similar to “dreary” above, this adjective describes something depressing; with no hope, warmth, or joy.
Example: If we don’t tackle the issue of climate change soon, the future for the planet looks bleak.

6. Ember
After the flames are finished; the final glowing remains of a fire.
Example: As the embers of the bonfire died, the excitement of Halloween was over for another year.

7. Sorrow
A deep sadness or regret.
Example: Edgar Allan Poe’s life was filled with pain and sorrow after the death of his wife.

8. Terrors
Something frightening or terrifying
Example: As an ex-soldier, he was forever haunted by the terrors of war.

(Video) Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven

9. Raven
A large, black bird with shiny feathers. Different from the more common crow in that ravens are much larger.
Example: The raven is a symbol of great wisdom, but also of death and bad luck.

10. Obeisance
Moving the body to show respect or authority. Tip: Think of the word “obey.”
Example: The priest made his obeisances in front of the altar, before walking up the stairs and beginning to read.

11. Ghastly
Something truly terrifying and horrifying.
Example: A ghastly scream came from deep within the dark woods.

12. Grim
Gloomy and depressing.
Example: The grim tale of a murderer haunted by the heartbeat of the man he killed is another famous story by Edgar Allan Poe called The Tell-tale Heart.

13. Ungainly
Awkward and without grace.
Example: He grew several inches over a short period of time, and so his movements were ungainly for a while.

14. Melancholy
A sad mood or feeling.
Example: The long, grey winters give many people a feeling of melancholy.

15. Desolate
A place without inhabitants; a lonely, abandoned place.
Example: She shivered in fear every time she walked by that old, desolate house in the neighborhood.

16. Fiend
A sadistic demon, devil or murderous person.
Example: I have no idea who this murderous fiend may be.

17. Nepenthe
A potion used in ancient times used to make someone forget pain or sorrow.
Example: She felt so much pain and sorrow, that the old witch made her a nepenthe, to help her forget and sleep peacefully.

18. Plume
A feather.
Example: He placed a plume in his hat to make him appear more sophisticated.

19. Fiery
Full of intense, hot emotions.
Example: His fiery temper caused him to act very violently.

20. Radiant
Literally shining or exuding light. Radiant can also mean looking very happy.
Example: He fell in love instantly with her radiant smile.

21. Nevermore
At no future time, never again.
Example: We will nevermore be in this place.

(Video) The Raven (Christopher Lee)

Author: Clare Kelleher

Editors: Brenda de Jong & Kerry Finlayson

Do you want more Halloween words? More spooky vocabulary plus vintage Halloween film recommendations with YouTube links? Just click the Halloween! 30 Words, History and Films below and start watching.

Halloween! 30 Words, History and Films

Watch the Simpsons version of The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, with narration by award winning actor James Earl Jones.

FAQs

What is Poe's message in The Raven? ›

The poem explores how grief can overcome a person's ability to live in the present and engage with society. Over the course of the poem, the speaker's inability to forget his lost love Lenore drives him to despair and madness.

Why did The Raven say nevermore? ›

Alas, Poe's oft-repeated theme emphasizes the importance of memory, because life consists of continuous loss. Poe uses “evermore” because loss will always be part of life; “nevermore,” because we can never hold onto what we have or who we love, McGann said.

What is the most famous line from The Raven? ›

The Raven Quotes

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”

Why is The Raven so popular? ›

This story is very popular because it encapsulates the feeling of despair from losing something very close to you. People can also relate to this story because it allows the readers to follow a character through drastic changes, possibly changes that they are going through themselves.

What is a short summary of the raven? ›

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" (1845) is a poem centered around an unnamed narrator's journey into madness after realizing he will never forget his lost Lenore. Poe uses symbols such as a talking raven, a bust of Pallas, and the narrator's chamber to share the story while representing his narrator's struggle with grief.

What is the main meaning of the raven? ›

Symbolism: The Raven

In literature, a symbol can be subtle or obvious. In 'The Raven' the symbol is obvious. Poe himself meant the Raven to symbolize 'mournful, never-ending remembrance. ' Our narrator's sorrow for his lost, perfect maiden Lenore is the driving force behind his conversation with the Raven.

What does nevermore symbolize? ›

The literal meaning of nevermore is not happening again or never again. In the poem the raven uses nevermore to answer the narrator's questions. Nevermore has many different meanings throughout the poem this single word spoken by the raven drives the narrator to insanity.

What is the only word the raven says? ›

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.

What does Lenore symbolize? ›

She may represent idealized love, beauty, truth, or hope in a better world. She is "rare and radiant" we are told several times, an angelic description, perhaps symbolic of heaven. Lenore may symbolize truth: the narrator cannot help but think of her, and her ubiquitous, yet elusive, nature haunts the narrative.

What are the 3 symbols in the raven? ›

There are three primary symbols in “The Raven”: the raven, the bust of Pallas, and the speaker's chamber. All of these symbols work together to form a portrait of the speaker's grief.

What is the last word in the raven? ›

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.” Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door, With such name as “Nevermore.” That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.

What does the last line of the raven mean? ›

These final lines of the poem show the speaker left in unending despair. The shadow here refers to the raven's shadow, symbolizing how the speaker's grief over Lenore's death will never leave him. The way the speaker describes his soul as being under a shadow “on the floor” creates a sense of heaviness and finality.

Why is the raven a masterpiece? ›

'The Raven' is commonly considered to be Edgar Allan Poe's poetic masterpiece. It details a harrowing night in the speaker's life that includes incessant knocking and a talking raven that only says one word–“Nevermore.” This popular narrative poem is written in the first person.

Can a raven say nevermore? ›

Ravens are great mimics, perhaps better than parrots. In captivity, they can imitate human speech – and, yes, some have been taught to say “nevermore!” They can mimic the calls of other birds and vocalize non-nature sounds like car engines starting and toilets flushing.

What is special about raven? ›

Ravens are highly intelligent animals and can use their beaks to rip objects open, helping them find both food and shelter. They have been known to use tools to obtain food and aid in defending their territories.

Who is the killer in the raven? ›

Ivan Reynolds is the main antagonist of the 2012 crime-thriller film The Raven. He is a serial killer that is obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe and used his stories as inspiration for a series of murders in Baltimore, Maryland. He is portrayed by Sam Hazeldine.

Is the raven poem about death? ›

Poe's poem is primarily about death—of his beloved Lenore, and of hope. Here, the narrator makes the implication that other friends have died, along with hope, and he hopes the bird will as well (which is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek joke that he would refer to the raven as a friend).

What is the moral of the crow and the raven? ›

In The Crow and the Raven, Aesop and his troupe teach their audience about the dangers of trying to be like someone else. They learn that you will make yourself look silly if you try to be something you are not.

What does the crow symbolize in the raven? ›

For example, crows represent those who like to be around other people, while ravens prefer solitude. Both share the characteristic of vision and prediction, meaning prescience and precognition. They are also intuitive and clever, going hand in hand with foresight.

What is Edgar Allan Poe most famous quote? ›

Here are 10 of his best quotations.
  • “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” ...
  • “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream" ...
  • “There is no exquisite beauty… ...
  • “Those who dream by day are cognisant of many things which escape those who dream only by night"

Is The Raven a true story? ›

Set in 1849, it is a fictionalized account of the last days of Poe's life, in which the poet and author pursues a serial killer whose murders mirror those in Poe's stories. While the plot of the film is fictional, the writers based it on some accounts of real situations surrounding Edgar Allan Poe's mysterious death.

What is the first line of The Raven? ›

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, The first line contains all 16 syllables of the octameter line, including a final unstressed syllable.

Was Lenore murdered in the raven? ›

Lenore is simply dead, and the narrator is devastated when the raven says that he will not even get to meet her again in Heaven.

Is there irony in the raven? ›

Poe uses analogies and irony in “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” to compose effective and suspenseful short stories and poems(Thesis). Poe's utilization of analogies, comparisons between two unlike things, help make “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” more exciting and full of surprises.

Was Lenore from the raven his wife? ›

So while Lenore is clearly a loved and cherished woman in the eyes of the narrator, there is only proof that she is unmarried rather than married to the narrator based on the vocabulary in the description of Lenore.

What are two allusions in the raven? ›

Nepenthe: Nepenthe is a narcotic, used by the ancient Greeks and made reference to in The Odyssey, known to chase away sorrow and erase memory. Aidenn: “Aidenn” is a poetic spelling of Eden, which in the context of “The Raven” represents the narrator's desire to return to a state of innocence.

What does a raven and skull symbolize? ›

Their appearance at midnight symbolizes death and a painful reminder of the solitary and sad state of the narrator. Ancient Greek mythology had a great influence on Europe. Legend has it that Apollo, the sun god, was in love with Coronis and sent the crow to watch over Coronis' conduct.

What does quit the bust above my door mean? ›

—quit the bust above my door! ' These lines from Stanza 17 contain the speaker's last words to the raven. The speaker's mental state has completely deteriorated, leaving him to rage at the raven for answering his questions with the word “nevermore,” despite only ever hearing the bird say that one word.

Where does the raven go at the end of the poem? ›

Answer and Explanation: At the end of "The Raven," the raven is still sitting on the bust of Pallas. In the last stanza of the poem, the narrator notes that the Raven is "never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting/ On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door."

What does a raven symbolize in art? ›

Then again, the raven (a larger relative of the crow) symbolizes gratitude and affection, wisdom, longevity, and fertility. The crow is a symbol of Christian solitude. Maybe most compelling, these birds in alchemy represent change. Intelligent and mysterious, they are blessed with keen sight.

Is the raven gothic or romantic? ›

“The Raven” is an example of Gothic literature, a genre that originated in 18th century England. Hallmarks of Gothic works include horror, death, the supernatural, and occasionally romance.

Why the raven is a dark romantic? ›

There are many elements in The Raven that correctly identify the poem in the Dark Romanticism genre. Incorporations of elements such as the supernatural, the search for truth in nature, and the exploration of evil in the poem The Raven rightly classify the work in the genre of Dark Romanticism.

What do Ravens fans yell? ›

You love to sing Seven Nation Army

Whenever the Ravens make a big play or score, the song comes on. Fans yell and scream “Woah, Oh, Oh, Oh” as the song echos through the stadium. You learn to love the song as a Ravens fan.

Is raven good or evil? ›

Raven later returned, still evil, in order to destroy the good version of herself implanted in Starfire. With the help of the Titans, evil Raven was reduced to ashes, and the good part of Raven was given a new, golden spirit body, which was completely free of her father's demonic influence.

Is raven a selfish bird? ›

In several Native American cultures, the raven is portrayed as a selfish, trickster figure, not be trusted.

Why does raven have a red dot on her forehead? ›

Raven's Gem is a chakra-like gem on her forehead. It is a containment unit for the purpose to imprison her inner demon. When broken, her inner demon is released that can be absorbed by other demons, like Trigon.

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