The most famous poem by Edgar Poe The Raven was first published on January 29, 1845, on the pages of the New York daily “Evening Mirror.” The work quickly gained popularity within the English-speaking society and during the lifetime of the author was reprinted eighteen times by both American and English editions. The classic version was the publication on September 25, 1845, in the “Richmond Semi-Weekly Examiner.”
Already the name of the poem itself prepares the reader for something terrible and irreversible because it is believed that the crow is a harbinger of trouble.
In order to better understand the meaning of this work, it is necessary to turn to the history of its creation. The prototype of the female lyrical character of the poem was Virginia Klemm, the wife of Edgar Poe. She died in her heyday of tuberculosis. Trying to survive this loss, Poe wrote a number of works dedicated to this woman. Among them was the poem “The Raven.
According to a number of researchers, the story and central artistic image of the Raven speaking with the protagonist originated under the influence of the novel by Charles Dickens “Barnebee Raj”, at the end of the fifth chapter of which the crow named Grip makes a sound “as if someone scratches on the door “or is “gently knocking on the shutter “. The Raven of Poe, at the same time, is devoid of the comic traits and verbosity that is typical for Dickens’s bird. All its actions are filled with the unchanging drama, exacerbating the inner experiences of the narrator.
The artistic image of the Raven is based on folklore representations of this bird as a satellite of death, a symbol of wisdom, and a prophetic creature.
The theme of the poem is the experience of grief caused by the death of a beloved woman. Poe borrowed this topic partly from personal losses (the death of his mother and his wife), and partly from his idea to which sphere a poetic work should adhere (the sphere of the Beautiful, that is, the love of the woman). The main emotional tone of the “Raven” is sadness and melancholy, which, according to the author, is the best sensual component of any poem (hence the “deadly component” of the love theme).
The protagonist is a classic daydreamer who can not forget his beloved Lenore. The artistic space of the poem is the narrator’s room. It is depicted as having gloomy, mysterious elements such as old books, a fireplace in which embers are smoldering, quivering purple curtains, a scarlet velvet pillow, windows with bars, a bust of Pallas – the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom, placed above the chamber door. The artistic time of the work corresponds to the artistic space. The rainy, windy December midnight is the darkest time of the day and the finale of the year.
A lyrical character yearning for the dead maiden searches the answer to the question in old books but finds no oblivion for his suffering soul. A raven flies into his window, and the trembling of the purple curtains, and then a soft knock at the door is a signal of his arrival. The bird becomes a living answer, repeating the same word – “Nevermore” to all questions of the protagonist. This complex word, consisting of two adverbs, reinforces the meaning of the inevitability and despair of death and leads the character to the idea that he can never overcome his grief and meet Lenore either in this life or in paradise.
The writer chose the main artistic effect of the refrain, which he constantly transformed (changing its meaning and sound) in order to avoid the monotony associated with it. The decision to apply the refrain resulted in the breakdown of the poem into stanzas, each of which would end with a refrain. The poet decided that the best refrain would be one word so that there would be no insurmountable difficulties with frequent semantic variations of any long-phrase.
The power of the poem The Raven lies in the depths of thought and feeling, in amazing form and sonority. Poe’s poems possess a certain hypnotic effect and contain a number of ciphers and metaphors that veil the true meaning. E. A. Poe knew how to influence the reader’s soul with obscure shadows of secrecy.