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The Raven

by Edgar Allan Poe

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 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 mortals
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, 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 marveled this ungainly
Fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—
Little relevancy bore;
For we can not help agreeing
That no living human being
Ever yet was blest 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 that 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 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 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 lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining,
With the lamplight gloating o'er
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser,
Perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim, whose footfalls
Tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee—
By these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe[1]
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 lamplight 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!