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The Raven By Poe Essay, Research Paper

Poem: noun An imaginative composition on verse.

Poetry: noun Art or work of a poet.

Though I had difficulty getting books from the library, I did find one unexpected source. I discovered a neighbour with a library. After hours of reading and discussions have come to the conclusion that of all the poems I have discovered while researching this essay, I was particularly struck by “The Raven” written by Edgar Allan Poe. It is a poem that will stay with me. I will try to give you my thoughts and feelings on this poem in the following essay.

I will explain my feelings verse by verse through the whole poem.

“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.

” ‘T is some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door –

Only this and nothing more.”

The first verse is a man remembering the past, remembering how weak and weary he felt. He remembers himself almost falling asleep next to the fire and a good book, and as he is just about asleep he hears a tapping at the door, which he considers is a visitor that he want to ignore. You can almost feel how tired he is and how he does not want to get up and answer the door.

“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 the surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore –

Nameless here for evermore.”

In this verse he remembers how bleak a day it was, which adds to the weary feeling of the whole poem. He was reading to take away the sorrow of his lost love Lenore from his mind, he wishes that the morning would come which says to me that she fills his thoughts in the evening.

“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

” ‘T is some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –

Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; –

That it is and nothing more.”

He becomes afraid of the rapping at the door, and although he is not getting he suddenly feels terrified, And he keeps repeating to himself, It is just a visitor, like a child reassure itself that there are no monsters under my bed. But still he does not answer the door.

” Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

” Sir,” said I ” or Madame, 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.”

In this verse he is feeling braver and is going to open the door. He starts talking before he gets to the door, and when he flings it open there is nothing but darkness awaiting him.

“Deep into the 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 work there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore!”

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word “Lenore!”

Merely this and nothing more!”

He stands there on this cold evening looking into the darkness, looking for his unseen visitor, hoping that it is Lenore, Then he whispers her name and hears only the lonely echo of her name coming back to him. We can assume that he realised that no one was there for in the next verse he returns to his chambers.

“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; –

‘T is the wind and nothing more.”

He turns back into his chambers with his soul burning. Was his soul burning with fear, love, or maybe even confusion after being awakened from his sleep. He then hears another tapping only this time it is at his window, his heart is pounding and he is trying to reassure himself again.

“Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

In here 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 mein of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -

perched above a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door –

Perched, and sat, and nothing more.”

In this verse he opens the window and in walked a Raven, who just came in and sat upon the highly decorated door. In these times the doors were highly decorated with either a crest or sculpture, in this case it was the bust of Pallas. It seemed that the bird had a purpose for being there.

“Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

By the grave and ster decorum and 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 Nights Plutonian shore!”

Quoth the Raven, ” Nevermore.”

This Raven enters and without a second thought the man says that he knows it is nat a coward and that it is ancient beyond years. He also asks what its name is and says that it came from the underworld. The bird replies 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 upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,

With such a name as Nevermore.”

He is surprised to hear the bird speak and he thinks that no living human has ever had a bird just sit there and talk to him, and with such a name as Nevermore. This might be the point where he realises that he is dying.

” But the Raven, sitting lonely on that 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.”

He is now starting a conversation with the bird which only answers Nevermore, which allows his mind to work over time. The Raven is just sitting there starring down at him which must add to his depression and fear. He is saying to the bird that his hopes and friends have died before him and the bird answers nevermore. At this point he realises that he is going to die

“Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is 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.”

Now that his mind is working and he figures out what is going on, he is startled by the birds response so he starts talking to himself, thinking that it probably was caught by an unhappy master that only taught it that word, so it must be the only work it knows or why would it answer all his questions like that.

“But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,

Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of the 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 this ominous bird of yore

Meant in croaking nevermore.”

He pulls up a chair while the bird is still unmoving, he sits and looks at the bird and starts to ponder the meaning of the birds reply. He starts to call the bird terrible names to soothe his inner sorrow.

” This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosoms core;

This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining

On the cushions 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!”

He is sitting with his head back, quite comfortably starring at the bird while the bird stares back into his inner being. We also think he is thinking about how she will never sit in this chair again. We are now wondering if Lenore is dead or not, simply because he is saying she will never sit here again, or is it because he is finally accepting her death or maybe even his own death and will never see her again.

” 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!”

The angel Seraphim enters his chamber. Seraphim is from the highest order of angels, and he asks her for respite from his painful memories of Lenore.

“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!”

He is calling the Raven evil, wanting it to leave his chambers. He is fighting his death but wants to know if there is peace in fair Gilead. He is begging the Raven to tell him.

“Prophet! Said I, thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil!

By that Heaven that bends above us – by the God we both adore –

Tell this soul with 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.”

Now he is asking if it is a bird or devil, just tell me is Lenore in heaven, because if she is I will fight no longer. He begs the bird to tell him if he is going to his fair Lenore. Yet the Raven will only give him the unclear answer nevermore.

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend! I shrieked, upstarting -

Get thee back into the tempest and the Nights 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.”

He is now getting angry and ordering the bird back where it came from. He wants no token of these events, he just wants the bird gone because he cannot accept the birds answer.

“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.”

In this verse the bird has disobeyed him and is just sitting above the door staring at him. His soul is caught under the bird shadow as he passes away and it is lifted up to heaven and his fair Lenore.

In summary of this poem I get a feeling of a lonely old man who would accept death until he comes face to face with it, where he fights with all his remaining strength to survive.

The poem is of a man drifting off to sleep to be woken possibly from a dream to a faint tapping at his door. He is startled so he obviously gets few if any visitors. He goes to the door and finds nothing but darkness waiting for him. He then returns to his chambers and hears a tapping at his window. He then reassures himself that it is just the wind, but when he opens it a raven who seems to have a purpose enters and flies to the top of his door. He then begins a conversation with the raven and goes through a wide variety of emotions ranging from:humour eg. Believing it is a trained bird, to, fear eg. That it might have come from Hell to get him, to, Anger eg. That he might never see Lenore again, to, Loathing eg. Realising that he is dying. I think in a way that the raven is a messenger of his death, but he never really accepts it until he is sent or his fate with or without Lenore.


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