BY EDGAR ALLAN POE.
The narrative of the poem is a raven which has learnt by heart the only word “nevermore” and which has fled away from its master, and which has to fetch shelter due to a violent storm, so it knocks on a window lit by a lamp – the room of a student who is partly reading a book and partly dreaming of his beloved dead. On hearing its wings on the window, the student opens it widely and the raven flies to stop on the best place, far away from the student who, happy for the event and the presence of the intruder, asks it for its name without expecting an answer. The raven answers the question with its only word “nevermore”, a word which expresses for the student certain thoughts that the occasion suggests, and he feels again surprised for the continuous answer “nevermore”. Thus, about this situation, we can find the human need to torture oneself, and partly because of superstition, when questioning the bird which will give the lover the distress through the typical answer “nevermore”.
We find a certain degree of complexity or adaptation, and as well as this, some suggestion which is what gives the poem its wealth.
The last two stanzas of the poem contain the underground meaning which appears for the first time in these lines: “Take thy beak from out my heart, and take the form from off my door! Quote the Raven, “Nevermore!”.
See that the words “from out my heart” have the initial metaphorical expression of the poem. These, as well as the answer “nevermore”, prepare the mind to look for a moral sense in whatever has been previously told.
The Raven starts to be considered an emblem of what is gloomy and immortal record :
“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!”
This poem proceeded, step by step, to its completion with the precision and rigid consequence of a mathematical problem.
The raven, a bird which is assimilated to bad luck, repeats monotonously an only word (“nevermore”) at the end of each stanza in a poem of melancholical tone of over a hundred lines.
The originality of this poem is its combination of different meters inside the same stanza, as it had never before been used. The stanzas are formed by five rather lengthy lines of 16, 15, 16, 15 and 15 syllabes, that is, an alternation of octameters (lines of
The rhyme scheme is also unusual, abcbbb, the b being identical throughout the whole poem.
Throughout the poem he employs a number of sound devices, most of which are in fact different kinds of repetition: alliteration (the repetition of sounds at the beginning of words), as in “weak” and “weary” in line 1, which produces a hypnotic effect, or “While I nodded, nearly napping” in line 3; assonance (the repetition of vowel sounds), as in “sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore” in line 10, which has a deep mournful effect; and internal rhyme (the rhyme which occurs within a single line) as in “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary” in line 1. He also uses the sound device of onomatopoeia, that is, words whose natural sounds evoke the object or action involved, such as “tapping” and “rapping”, both associated with “knocking”.
The place where the lover and the raven meet is a limited space, his room, which is absolutely necessary to produce the impression of an isolated event, since it gives it the strength which the frame gives a painting: the subjective power of concentrating the attention and, of course, it shouldn’t be confused with the simple unit of place. The room which had turned into a holy room for the remembering of that woman who had been there so often and so many times. The room is magnificently furnished. The bird had to fly in through the window, of course. So the fact that the lover confuses at first the movement of the wings of the raven against the blind with the soft knocks on the door was used to increase the curiosity of the reader and to admit the incidental effect coming out of the fact that the lover, on opening the door and finding just darkness, gets involved in fantasies about who has called on the door, that it could have been her beloved’s soul.
The stormy night gives credibility to the presence of the raven which is looking for shelter and it contrasts with the real serenity of the room.
The raven on the bust of Pallas is a contrast between the marble and the black feathers.
The poet gave a fantastic ambience when the raven flew in. The bird arrives “with many a flirt and flutter”.
From the lines “But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only …”, the poet speaks about the bird as a terrible, spectral, old-fashioned bird, and feels its eyes burning him till the “bottom of his breast”. The poet wants the reader to feel a proper state getting ready for the denouement, as quickly and straight as possible.
When in the last question the lover wants to know if he will meet again his beloved one in an afterlife world, the poem reaches its culminating moment. Till now, everything has been inside the limits of what can be said and real.