Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Poetical Works eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 182 pages of information about Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Poetical Works.
perches on the most convenient seat out of the immediate reach of the student, who, amused by the incident and the oddity of the visitor’s demeanor, demands of it, in jest and with out looking for a reply, its name.  The Raven addressed, answers with its customary word, “Nevermore”—­a word which finds immediate echo in the melancholy heart of the student, who, giving utterance aloud to certain thoughts suggested by the occasion, is again startled by the fowl’s repetition of “Nevermore.”  The student now guesses the state of the case, but is impelled, as I have before explained, by the human thirst for self-torture, and in part by superstition, to propound such queries to the bird as will bring him, the lover, the most of the luxury of sorrow through the anticipated answer “Nevermore.”  With the indulgence, to the extreme, of this self-torture, the narration, in what I have termed its first or obvious phase, has a natural termination, and so far there has been no overstepping of the limits of the real.

But in subjects so handled, however skilfully, or with however vivid an array of incident, there is always a certain hardness or nakedness which repels the artistical eye.  Two things are invariably required—­first, some amount of complexity, or more properly, adaptation; and, secondly, some amount of suggestiveness, some undercurrent, however indefinite of meaning.  It is this latter, in especial, which imparts to a work of art so much of that richness (to borrow from colloquy a forcible term) which we are too fond of confounding with the ideal.  It is the excess of the suggested meaning—­it is the rendering this the upper instead of the under current of theme—­which turns into prose (and that of the very flattest kind) the so-called poetry of the so-called transcendentalists.

Holding these opinions, I added the two concluding stanzas of the poem—­their suggestiveness being thus made to pervade all the narrative which has preceded them.  The undercurrent of meaning is rendered first apparent in the lines: 

  “Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
               Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore!”

It will be observed that the words, “from out my heart,” involve the first metaphorical expression in the poem.  They, with the answer, “Nevermore,” dispose the mind to seek a moral in all that has been previously narrated.  The reader begins now to regard the Raven as emblematical—­but it is not until the very last line of the very last stanza, that the intention of making him emblematical of Mournful and never-ending Remembrance is permitted distinctly to be seen: 

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!

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Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Poetical Works from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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