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The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

for American Literature class
by

Laura Randazzo

on 8 June 2013

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Transcript of The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Raven By Edgar Allan Poe 1809–1849 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 marveled 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 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 sad 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! Allusion Sound devices Figurative language Reference to another literary or historical work Alliteration, repetition, rhyme (scheme, internal, and slant) Simile and metaphor A group of Romantic writers, including Poe, who focus on the dark elements of the human psyche Gothic/Dark Romantics Romanticism He put the "Poe" in Poetry The "I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity."
– Edgar Allan Poe What scares you the most? For Poe,
the scariest thing is the death of your true love. "The Raven" is loosely based on Poe's own experience.
His young wife, Virginia, was dying of tuberculosis while he wrote this poem about a man haunted by the loss of his love, Lenore. As we read, be on the lookout for: A literary movement characterized by a heightened interest in nature, including the wild terrain of the human mind Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe 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."
The word external means “outside.” So an external rhyme scheme is a pattern of words that rhyme on the “outside” edge of the poem – the last syllable in the last word of each line in a stanza.

An easy way to see a poem’s external rhyme scheme is to assign each sound at the end of a line a letter – the first sound you come to is given an A, the second a B, and so on. If the same sound occurs in a later line, you simply write the letter you gave that sound when you first heard it. Using stanza 10, for example: Stanza 10 A B C B B B So, the rhyme scheme is: ABCBBB External Rhyme Scheme 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." There are two internal rhyme schemes used in “The Raven.” Let's look at stanza 10 again to see what an internal rhyme scheme is and how Poe uses it to make the poem flow.

The word internal means “inside.” So an internal rhyme scheme is a pattern of rhyming words inside the same line.

“The Raven” has two unique internal rhyme schemes – one in the 1st line of each stanza, and a second in the 3rd and part of the 4th line of each stanza. Stanza 10 Internal Rhyme Scheme
Great poets like Poe like to bend (or even break!) the rules sometimes to create an even better effect.

Look here – the internal rhyme of “uttered,” “fluttered,” and “muttered” spills over into two lines instead of one. Because the rhymes still occur inside the lines – not among words at the end of each line – this is still considered an internal rhyme scheme. Internal, or middle, rhymes usually occur within the same line, like the words “lonely” and “only” in line 55. Depending on how you read the poem, internal rhymes can quicken the poem’s pace as you’re reading, leading to a greater sense of anticipation. Or the rhyme scheme might make you slow down and linger over the rhyming words. Either way, Poe’s internal rhyme scheme creates tension. "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 17 OK, let's try one together... There are two sets of internal rhyme.
Five total words are involved here. Jot them down. 1st internal rhyme:
"parting" and "upstarting" 2nd internal rhyme:
"token," "spoken," and "unbroken" Looking back over your copy of the poem, answer the following questions. We'll talk about the answers in a few minutes: 1. Do you think there really was a raven in the speaker's chambers? Why or why not?

2. Find evidence in the text that the speaker is going insane. Jot down at least two bits of text to serve as evidence.

3. Poe could have chosen many other types of birds (a sparrow, a chicken, a parrot) to enter the chamber in this poem, but he chose a raven. Why? Symbolically, what's happening here?

4. Poe makes several allusions to other famous historical and literary figures. Find one of these allusions, write down the line, and then explain what you think the source material might have been. Even if you don't know for certain, I want you to still take a guess. 1. Do you think there really was a raven in the speaker's chambers? Why or why not? Probably not. Perhaps there was a bird at the beginning, but it's certainly not hanging around forever in that room. The speaker is grief-stricken and torturing himself. The bird represents far more than just a black bird. We'll talk more about this part in #3. 2. Find evidence in the text that the speaker is going insane. Jot down at least two bits of text to serve as evidence. There's lots of evidence here. Look at line 74: "...the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core..." Is the bird really doing this? No. What other evidence did you find? 3. Poe could have chosen many other types of birds (a sparrow, a chicken, a parrot) to enter the chamber in this poem, but he chose a raven. Why? Symbolically, what's happening here? A different bird would have entirely changed the tone of the poem. Really, can you imagine a chicken in this scene? It'd become a comedy, right? Symbolically, the Raven might represent the speaker's slide into madness, as the blackness of the feathers connects to the dark, somber mood that overtakes the speaker. This is a deep, dark depression. 4. Poe makes several allusions to other famous historical and literary figures. Find one of these allusions, write down the line, and then explain what you think the source material might have been. Even if you don't know for certain, I want you to still take a guess.
Okay, let's look at some of the allusions. Here we go... "Of yore" is an old-fashioned way of saying a long time ago. In the Bible, ravens fed the prophet Elijah when he was lost in the wilderness (1 Kings 17:1-6). That's where Poe gets the "stately" and "saintly." Stanza 7: A bust of "Pallas" is a sculpture of Pallas Athena's head and shoulders. Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom and war; this is appropriate, as our speaker is waging a mental war against himself. Stanza 8: Pluto, also known as Hades, was the Greek god of the underworld. This "shore" refers to the bank of the River Styx, which separated the land of the living from the land of the dead. This gap also separates our speaker from his beloved Lenore. Stanza 15: The speaker is seeking relief from his sorrow. The reference is from Jeremiah 8:22 in the Bible. Gilead, an ancient area in the Middle East, was known for its healing herbs. Deconstructing the Poem Note: ALL of the "B" lines in every stanza of the poem end with the "-or" sound. Now, it's your turn to have a little fun with words... Just follow the directions on the sheet
I'm going to hand out now. Welcome to Faux Poe! Click here Now, let's hear "The Raven" Read by James Earl Jones Then, keep clicking to follow the text,
stanza-by-stanza Music: Moonlight Sonata, Beethoven
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