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volumes of the prose stories he had then written-followed in 1840, and the ensuing year, The Gold Bug and The Murders of the Rue Morgue were written; while at the same time our author was engaged as editor of Graham's Magazine. The Raven, Poe's master-poem, was given to the public in 1845, through Colton's Whig Review.
THE RAVEN. ONCE upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and
weary, Ove many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten loreWhile 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.” 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
LenoreFor 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 doorSome 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 rap.
ping, And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber
That I scarre was sure I heard you”-here I opened wido the door;—.
Darkness there and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wonder.
ing, 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 something louder than before. “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window
lattice; Let me see, then Wat thereat is, and this mystery explorem Let my heart ve 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 chambc:
doorPerched 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 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
doorBird or beast upon the sculptureri bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”
But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did out
pour. Nothing further then he uttered; not a feather then he flut
teredTill 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
boreTill the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul 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
yoreWhat this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird
Meant. in croaking “Nevermore.”
This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
She shall press, ah, nevermore! 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." "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."
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
"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 the lie thy soul hath
spoken! Teave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door' Take thy leak 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 sceming of a demon that is
dreaming, And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow
on the floor; And my soul froni out that shadow, that lies floating on the floor,
Shall be lifted-nevermore!
During the four years sụcceeding the publication of the above poem, and while residing at New York, Poe contributed, at various times, to the Broadway Journal, and Godey's Lady's Book. A series of articles, published in the latter, and entitled The Literati of New York City, were, together with other sketches and essays, collected and républished in 1850.
Poe died in his native city, while on a visit there, of fever occasioned by intemperance and exposure, Oct. 7, 1849, at the age of thirty-eight.
Poe figures in American literature as essayist, fictionist, and poet. Of his merits in each of these departments there is no lack of weighty opinions, which, though they pretty generally agree as touching the main points of his genius, vary not a little in the terms employed to describe these points. We select the following as being, to our mind, the most candid and temperate.
“In his criticisms he has displayed a keen analysis, a clear discrimination; they are sharp and well defined, but unfair. . . . He was a master in the criticism of words and their collocation, but had not sufficient breadth of mind fully to appreciate thought, nor sufficient candor to acknowledge excellence.” *
* Cleveland's Compendium of American Literature.