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Literature: The Raven
"Nevermore."
The Raven

"The Raven" is a narrative poem of the Gothic horror genre published in 1845. Oft parodied and referenced, it is the most famous work by author Edgar Allan Poe, and to this day is one of the most well-known pieces of English poetry ever written.

It tells the tale of an unidentified narrator who is mourning the loss of his love, Lenore, when he is interrupted by the tapping of a raven whose constant (yet strangely fitting) repetition of the word "Nevermore" increasingly aggravates him to the point of madness.

Here you can listen to it in the voice of Christopher Lee. And here's one by John de Lancie.

Roger Corman's 1963 film version is a very loose adaptation, mostly Played for Laughs, starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff, with an early appearance from Jack Nicholson.

The Alan Parsons Project based a song on the poem, as did Queen. Gustave Doré illustrated it too.

Omnia beautifully set the words to harp music. See it here.

Amusingly parodied in the poem: ''The End of the Raven'' by Poe's Cat.

Night Gallery showcased a story based on it — more or less.

This poem provides examples of:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Frequently.
  • Adult Fear: How about never being able to see someone you love - not even in Heaven?
  • Animated Adaptation:
  • Arc Words: "Quoth the Raven: 'Nevermore.'"
  • Creepy Ravens: Raven the ominous-looking black bird. Shout Outs to Poe's version abound.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Raven itself is not evil per se, contrary to most media portrayals, just a reminder of the narrator's lost love.
  • Despair Event Horizon: There really is nothing necessarily supernatural about the raven. The entire poem is about the narrator projecting his own frustrated grief onto a random bird, and losing his mind in the process.
  • Downer Ending: The narrator is driven to desperate madness and the raven remains in his house, still reminding him of what he has lost.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary...
  • It's Probably Nothing: The narrator repeatedly tries to dismiss the noises he hears as only the wind.
  • The Lost Lenore: Trope Namer.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Both possibilities are briefly touched on - whether the bird is/was sent by some unnatural force, or if it was just someone's pet taught to utter a single word (there is a rumor that early drafts of the poem featured a parrot, though this is dubious).
    • Another interpretation is that the narrator's grief is slowly driving him insane, and that the raven was either a hallucination or it was real but the narrator only thought it was talking when it actually wasn't.
  • No Name Given: The narrator.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: "Darkness there, and nothing more."
    • Even when the raven is visible and on the perch, the raven does nothing beyond responding with the word "Nevermore".
  • Once Upon a Time: "Once upon a midnight dreary..."
  • Polly Wants a Microphone: The Ur Example, in horror terms. The narrator begs of the bird to answer increasingly desperate questions about the afterlife and the hope of reuniting with his Lost Lenore, but the raven constantly answers, "Nevermore," rather pessimistically.
  • Posthumous Character: Lenore, of course, who is dead before the narrative begins but whose name is uttered quite often throughout.
  • Rhyming with Itself: The end of the fourth and fifth lines in each paragraph use the same word. Said word also rhymes with a different word on line 2, and the arc word on line 6.
  • Sanity Slippage
  • Say My Name: Lenore. Lenore!

Quoth the raven
"Nevermore"
Ramona 19 th Century LiteratureThe Red and the Black
Ratman's NotebooksHorror LiteratureThe Red Tree 2009
The Rape of the LockPoetryReynard The Fox

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