The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, delves into the hidden horrors of the human psyche. Originally published in 1845, the poem is narrated by a melancholy scholar brooding over Lenore, a woman he loved who is now lost to him. One bleak December at midnight, a raven with fiery eyes visits the scholar and perches above his chamber door. Struggling to understand the meaning of the word his winged visitant repeats — Nevermore!? — the narrator descends by stages into madness.
Am I the only one creeped out by ravens? Every time I hear mention of them I shudder. I mean, come on. Have you ever heard one croak? Second question; have you ever heard a tree full of them croak? I have.
There I was, minding my own business, just trying to walk home from the bus stop. I didn’t even see them until I was directly beneath the tree. I heard this strange rustling sound and thought it was weird because the leaves had already fallen. Naturally, I paused to look up. What was I met with?
Okay, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but I was eleven and they were just up there…looking at me…with their beady little eyes…and their stabby little beaks. Then one opened its mouth and croaked. Then another joined in. Then another.
I ran the rest of the way home. I was convinced that it was some kind of omen and I was going to die within 24 hours. My mom didn’t buy it. That heartless woman made me go to school. I spent the next day acting like some kind of little schizo, jumping at noises, slinking down hallways, screaming whenever a loud noise went off. What? I had an overactive imagination as a kid.
Ravens still creep me out. Crows, too. They hang out in groups called murders. They’re far too intelligent for comfort. It’s in the eyes, in the way they just…stare at you.
Did you know that they can count to five? One species even makes its own tools. And another…sorry, I’m getting off topic. I avoided reading this poem until I was in my twenties. I’d read all of his other works before I sucked it up and attempted this. It gave me nightmares.
I suggest never reading Poe’s thoughts on this poem. It takes the magic away. His approach to writing it was too clinical, too structured. I like to ignore what he said about his method and picture him gaunt and disheveled, crouched over a piece of parchment and scribbling away like a madman.
I’ll leave you with my favorite passage:
“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 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!”