A Halloween Special — “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe

Dusting off a longtime favorite to help set the mood for Halloween weekend.

There are many works of literature and poetry that have stuck with me as favorites over the years, long after being required to dissect, analyze, and memorize them for literature classes in school some years ago.  Now, they may simply be enjoyed as entertainment on their own merits as originally intended by the authors.

One such piece is Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”, a very appropriate share as we approach Halloween.  This narrative poem was originally attributed to Poe in the ‘New York Evening Mirror’ on January 29, 1845.

Though not bringing much financial benefit in and of itself, “The Raven” served to make Poe very popular in his time.  The poem remains one of the most well-liked poems ever written, and always one of my personal favorites.  Frequently associated with Halloween now, the poem features a distraught lover sadly lamenting the loss of his love, Lenore, on a bleak December night.  He is visited by a talking raven, and the poem follows his slow descent into madness.

As Poe stated of himself — “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”

Here then, for your Halloween festivities — “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe . . . .


“THE RAVEN”

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 someone 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 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 visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door— 

Some 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 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 all my 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!

By — Edgar Allan Poe


One of my favorite renditions of “The Raven” was performed by James Earl Jones on “The Simpsons” first “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween Special, on October 25, 1990, also a true classic in its own rite!


Thanks as always for visiting!  Wishing everyone a fun, but safe Halloween, because —  we’re never quite sure who may be rapping on the door.

Rapping, tapping, tapping, rapping on our door, bearing frightful tricks of yore.

Or perhaps, should we then choose to open it — Nevermore?  — Jim  (and Red!)


         “I would define, in brief, the poetry of words as the rhythmical creation of Beauty.”          — Edgar Allan Poe

 “Monsters are real, and ghosts are real, too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”   — Stephen King


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                 “Our feet are planted in the real world, but we dance with Angels and Ghosts.”          — John Cameron Mitchell


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8 thoughts on “A Halloween Special — “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe

  1. That is a true and honest compliment, for you to be compared to Poe. Heady stuff. That would be like someone comparing me to Mark Twain. I would not take it very seriously, but would probably be walking on air for a day until the bubble burst. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post James!
    I wondered if Edgar Allan Poe knew when he wrote this, it would turn into such a classic. One never know, huh?
    I like what “The Simpsons” did with this piece. James Earl Jones voice is the best!

    Thanks again and enjoy the rest of October.
    Rosie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks always for visiting, Rosie! So many artists and writers achieve neither monetary nor critical success in their lifetimes, almost as though they are creating ahead of their times. And interestingly, it seems that those who do achieve a great level of monetary success in their time, find that their work itself does not successfully stand the test of time. And I have always ranked that Simpsons’ piece as one of their very best. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this James I’m a Poe fan. Best compliment I’ve had was in a review for Darkly Wood when someone compared me to him- didn’t take it too seriously but still nice. Lovely blog as always☘️🎈👻🎃

    Like

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