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.
“‘Tis some visiter,” 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 visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door —
Some late visiter 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 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 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 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.”
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 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 lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
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 —
Clasp a rare and radiant 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 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 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!
—Edgar Allan Poe
“The Raven” is a narrative poem by American writer Edgar Allan Poe. First published in January 1845, the poem is often noted for its musicality, stylized language, and supernatural atmosphere. It tells of a talking raven‘s mysterious visit to a distraught lover, tracing the man’s slow fall into madness.
The lover, often identified as being a student, is lamenting the loss of his love, Lenore. Sitting on a bust of Pallas, the raven seems to further instigate his distress with its constant repetition of the word “Nevermore”. The poem makes use of a number of folk and classical references.
Poe claimed to have written the poem very logically and methodically, intending to create a poem that would appeal to both critical and popular tastes, as he explained in his 1846 follow-up essay “The Philosophy of Composition“.
The poem was inspired in part by a talking raven in the novel Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of ‘Eighty by Charles Dickens. Poe borrows the complex rhythm and meter of Elizabeth Barrett’s poem “Lady Geraldine’s Courtship”, and makes use of internal rhyme as well as alliteration throughout.
“The Raven” was first attributed to Poe in print in the New York Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845. Its publication made Poe widely popular in his lifetime, although it did not bring him much financial success. Soon reprinted, parodied, and illustrated, critical opinion is divided as to the poem’s status, but it nevertheless remains one of the most famous poems ever written.
“The Raven” follows an unnamed narrator on a night in December who sits reading “forgotten lore” as a way to forget the loss of his love, Lenore. A “rapping at [his] chamber door” reveals nothing, but excites his soul to “burning”.
A similar rapping, slightly louder, is heard at his window. When he goes to investigate, a raven steps into his chamber. Paying no attention to the man, the raven perches on a bust of Pallas above the door.
Amused by the raven’s comically serious disposition, the man asks that the bird tell him its name. The raven’s only answer is “Nevermore”. The narrator is surprised that the raven can talk, though at this point it has said nothing further.
The narrator remarks to himself that his “friend” the raven will soon fly out of his life, just as “other friends have flown before” along with his previous hopes. As if answering, the raven responds again with “Nevermore”. The narrator reasons that the bird learned the word “Nevermore” from some “unhappy master” and that it is the only word it knows.
Even so, the narrator pulls his chair directly in front of the raven, determined to learn more about it. He thinks for a moment in silence, and his mind wanders back to his lost Lenore. He thinks the air grows denser and feels the presence of angels, and wonders if God is sending him a sign that he is to forget Lenore.
The bird again replies in the negative, suggesting that he can never be free of his memories. The narrator becomes angry, calling the raven a “thing of evil” and a “prophet“. Finally, he asks the raven whether he will be reunited with Lenore in Heaven.
When the raven responds with its typical “Nevermore”, he is enraged, and, calling it a liar, commands the bird to return to the “Plutonian shore”, – but it does not move. Presumably at the time of the poem’s recitation by the narrator, the raven “still is sitting” on the bust of Pallas. The narrator’s final admission is that his soul is trapped beneath the raven’s shadow and shall be lifted “Nevermore”.
Poe wrote the poem as a narrative, without intentionally creating an allegory or falling into didacticism. The main theme of the poem is one of undying devotion. The narrator experiences a perverse conflict between desire to forget and desire to remember. He seems to get some pleasure from focusing on loss. The narrator assumes that the word “Nevermore” is the raven’s “only stock and store”, and, yet, he continues to ask it questions, knowing what the answer will be. His questions, then, are purposely self-deprecating and further incite his feelings of loss.
Poe leaves it unclear if the raven actually knows what it is saying or if it really intends to cause a reaction in the poem’s narrator. The narrator begins as “weak and weary,” becomes regretful and grief-stricken, before passing into a frenzy and, finally, madness. Christopher F. S. Maligec suggests the poem is a type of elegiac paraclausithyron, an ancient Greek and Roman poetic form consisting of the lament of an excluded, locked-out lover at the sealed door of his beloved.
Poe says that the narrator is a young scholar. Though this is not explicitly stated in the poem, it is mentioned in “The Philosophy of Composition”. It is also suggested by the narrator reading books of “lore” as well as by the bust of Pallas Athena, goddess of wisdom.
He is reading “many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore”. Similar to the studies suggested in Poe’s short story “Ligeia“, this lore may be about the occult or black magic.
This is also emphasized in the author’s choice to set the poem in December, a month which is traditionally associated with the forces of darkness. The use of the raven – the “devil bird” – also suggests this. This devil image is emphasized by the narrator’s belief that the raven is “from the Night’s Plutonian shore”, or a messenger from the afterlife, referring to Pluto, the Roman god of the underworld (also known as Dis Pater in Roman mythology).
Poe chose a raven as the central symbol in the story because he wanted a “non-reasoning” creature capable of speech. He decided on a raven, which he considered “equally capable of speech” as a parrot, because it matched the intended tone of the poem. Poe said the raven is meant to symbolize “Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance“.
He was also inspired by Grip, the raven in Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of ‘Eighty by Charles Dickens. One scene in particular bears a resemblance to “The Raven”: at the end of the fifth chapter of Dickens’s novel, Grip makes a noise and someone says, “What was that – him tapping at the door?” The response is, “‘Tis someone knocking softly at the shutter.”
Dickens’s raven could speak many words and had many comic turns, including the popping of a champagne cork, but Poe emphasized the bird’s more dramatic qualities. Poe had written a review of Barnaby Rudge for Graham’s Magazine saying, among other things, that the raven should have served a more symbolic, prophetic purpose. The similarity did not go unnoticed: James Russell Lowell in his A Fable for Critics wrote the verse, “Here comes Poe with his raven, like Barnaby Rudge / Three-fifths of him genius and two-fifths sheer fudge.”
Poe may also have been drawing upon various references to ravens in mythology and folklore. In Norse mythology, Odin possessed two ravens named Huginn and Muninn, representing thought and memory. According to Hebrew folklore, Noah sends a white raven to check conditions while on the ark.
It learns that the floodwaters are beginning to dissipate, but it does not immediately return with the news. It is punished by being turned black and being forced to feed on carrion forever. In Ovid‘s Metamorphoses, a raven also begins as white before Apollo punishes it by turning it black for delivering a message of a lover’s unfaithfulness. The raven’s role as a messenger in Poe’s poem may draw from those stories.
Poe also mentions the Balm of Gilead, a reference to the Book of Jeremiah (8:22) in the Bible: “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” In that context, the Balm of Gilead is a resin used for medicinal purposes (suggesting, perhaps, that the narrator needs to be healed after the loss of Lenore).
He also refers to “Aidenn”, another word for the Garden of Eden, though Poe uses it to ask if Lenore has been accepted into Heaven. At another point, the narrator imagines that Seraphim (a type of angel) have entered the room. The narrator thinks they are trying to take his memories of Lenore away from him using nepenthe, a drug mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey to induce forgetfulness.
The Bath School disaster is the name given to three bombings in Bath Township, Michigan, on May 18, 1927, which killed 38 elementary school children, two teachers, four other adults and the bomber himself; at least 58 people were injured. Most of the victims were children in the second to sixth grades (7–11 years of age) attending the Bath Consolidated School. Their deaths constitute the deadliest mass murder in a school in U.S. history.
The bomber was school board treasurer Andrew Kehoe, 55, who was enraged about a property tax levied to fund the construction of the school building.
On the morning of May 18, Kehoe murdered his wife by beating her to death, then set his farm buildings afire. As fire fighters arrived at his farm, an explosion devastated the north wing of the school building, killing many schoolchildren.
Kehoe had used a detonator to ignite dynamite and hundreds of pounds of pyrotol which he had secretly planted inside the school over the course of many months. As rescuers started gathering at the school, Kehoe drove up, stopped, and detonated a bomb inside his shrapnel-filled vehicle with his Winchester rifle, killing himself and the school superintendent, and killing and injuring several others.
During rescue efforts searchers discovered an additional 500 pounds (230 kg) of unexploded dynamite and pyrotol planted throughout the basement of the school’s south wing. Kehoe apparently had intended to blow up and destroy the whole school.
Telephone operators stayed at their stations for hours to summon doctors, undertakers, area hospitals and anyone else who might help. The Lansing Fire Department sent three men and the city’s chemical truck.
The local physician, Dr. J.A. Crum and his wife, a nurse, had both served in World War I, and had returned to Bath to open a pharmacy. After the explosion the Crums turned their drugstore into a triage center. The dead were removed to the town hall, used as a morgue. Private citizens were enlisted to use their automobiles as additional ambulances to take survivors and family members to area hospitals. By the afternoon some 13 ambulances were at the township hall to transport the dead to undertakers.
Hundreds of people worked in the wreckage all day in an effort to find and rescue the children pinned underneath. Area contractors had sent all their men to assist, and many ordinary people came to the scene in response to the pleas for help.
Eventually, 34 firefighters and the Chief of the Lansing Fire Department arrived on the scene, as did several Michigan State Police officers, who managed traffic to and from the scene.
The injured and dying were transported to Sparrow Hospital and St. Lawrence Hospital in Lansing. The construction of the latter facility had been financed in large part by Lawrence Price, Nellie Kehoe’s uncle and formerly an executive in charge of Oldsmobile‘s Lansing Car Assembly.
Michigan Governor Fred Green arrived during the afternoon of the disaster and assisted in the relief work, carting bricks away from the scene. The Lawrence Baking Company of Lansing sent a truck filled with pies and sandwiches, which were served to rescuers in the township’s community hall.
The bombing had destroyed the north wing of the school. During the search rescuers found an additional 500 pounds (230 kg) of dynamite, which had failed to detonate, in the south wing. The search was halted to allow the Michigan State Police to disarm the devices.
The State Police found an alarm clock timed to go off at 9:45 a.m., one hour after the explosion in the north wing. Investigators speculated that the initial explosion may have caused a short circuit in the second set of bombs preventing them from detonating. Then a sweep of the building was made and recovery work recommenced.
Police and fire officials gathered at the Kehoe farm to investigate the fires. It was not until the following day, May 19, that investigators identified Nellie Kehoe’s charred body among the ruins of the farm. The body was so disfigured it went unnoticed by hundreds who walked past it the previous day.
All the Kehoe farm buildings were destroyed, and the animals trapped inside the barn were killed. The amount of unused equipment and materials on the farm reportedly could have easily paid off the Kehoes’ mortgage. Investigators found a wooden sign wired to the farm’s fence with Kehoe’s last message, “Criminals are made, not born” stenciled on it.