The Raven

Original Text: 
Edgar A. Poe, The Raven and Other Poems (New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1845): 1-5 (J. Lorimer Graham copy in the Miriam Lutcher Stark Library, University of Texas). Facsimile edition by Thomas Ollive Mabbott (Facsimile Text Society, 1942). PS 2609 A1 1845A ROBA.
2Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore--
3    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
4As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
5"'Tis some visiter," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door--
6            Only this and nothing more."
7    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
8And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
9    Eagerly I wished the morrow;--vainly I had sought to borrow
11For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore--
12            Nameless here for evermore.
13    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
14Thrilled me--filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
15    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
16    "'Tis some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door--
17Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;--
18            This it is and nothing more."
19    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
20"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
21    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
22    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
23That I scarce was sure I heard you"--here I opened wide the door;--
24            Darkness there and nothing more.
25    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
26Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
27    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
28    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
29This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"--
30            Merely this and nothing more.
31    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
32Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
33    "Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice;
34    Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore--
35Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;--
36            'Tis the wind and nothing more!"
38In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
39    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
42            Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
43Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
44By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
45"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
46Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore--
48            Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."
49    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
50Though its answer little meaning--little relevancy bore;
51    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
52    Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door--
53Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
54            With such name as "Nevermore."
55    But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
56That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
57    Nothing farther then he uttered--not a feather then he fluttered--
58    Till I scarcely more than muttered "Other friends have flown before--
59On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before."
60            Then the bird said "Nevermore."
61    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
62"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store
63    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
64    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore--
65Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
66            Of 'Never--nevermore'."
67    But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
68Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
69    Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
70    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore--
71What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
72            Meant in croaking "Nevermore."
73    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
74To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
75    This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
77But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
78            She shall press, ah, nevermore!
79    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
81    "Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee--by these angels he hath sent thee
82    Respite--respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
84            Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."
85    "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil!--
86Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
87    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted--
88    On this home by Horror haunted--tell me truly, I implore--
90            Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."
91    "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil!
92By that Heaven that bends above us--by that God we both adore--
94    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore--
95Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
96            Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."
97    "Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting--
98"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
99    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
100    Leave my loneliness unbroken!--quit the bust above my door!
101Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
102            Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."
103    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
104On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
105    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
106    And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
107And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
108            Shall be lifted--nevermore!


1] Poe made minor changes to this poem when he wrote out the poem after its publication in 1845. Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Thomas Ollive Mabbott (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969), I, 350-74, bases its text on the version printed by the Richmond Semi-Weekly Examiner (Sept. 25, 1849). The editor, John M. Daniel, is quoted as stating that his copy, based on a public reading by Poe the previous night, is "the only correct copy ever published" (p. 363), but Poe himself does not verify this claim. Floyd Stovall, editor of The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1965), uses the Lorimer Graham copy of the 1845 edition as revised by Poe himself. Back to Line
10] Lenore: almost certainly an imaginative creation, not based on a person but linked to literary heroines by their shared name. Poe's "Lenore" is a lament for the same woman. Back to Line
37] flirt: quick movement. Back to Line
40] mien: manner. Back to Line
41] Pallas: Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. Back to Line
47] Plutonian: that region belonging to the Greek god of the underworld Back to Line
76] gloated o'er: possibly "reflecting" as well as the more common meaning. Back to Line
80] tufted: carpeted with a fluffy soft threaded material Back to Line
83] nepenthe: a drink made by the gods to relieve human grief. Back to Line
89] is there balm in Gilead?: "Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the Lord in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities? The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me. Is there no balm in Gilead? is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?" (Jeremiah 8.19-22). Back to Line
93] Aidenn: Biblical Eden, in which the garden paradise of Adam and Eve was found. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2.0.