“The Raven” By Edgar Allan Poe Preview: This poem's opening

“The Raven”
By Edgar Allan Poe
This poem’s opening stanza begins with “Once upon a time”…but trust me, this poem is no
traditional fairly tale. Many believe “The Raven” is based on incidents from Poe’s experience as
a student at the University of Virginia. The setting is the room of a man who is reading an old
academic book on a stormy night.
“The Raven” is Poe’s most famous poem. After its publication in 1845, the poem gained the
kind of popularity that a hit song enjoys today. Although he was paid $15 for its initial
publication, others made lots of money by reprinting in magazines and newspapers around the
world. He didn’t earn a dime from the reprints, having given up his rights to the poem when he
accepted the initial payment.
Lore (n): learning
Wrought (v): worked
Surcease (n): end
Entreating (v): pleading
Implore (v): to ask earnestly (begging)
Mien (n): a way of carrying one’s self; manner
Aptly (adv): appropriately
Respite (n): a short period of relief from pain or work
Quaff (v): to drink
Pallid (adj): pale
Comprehension Questions:
1. What is the speaker’s mood at the beginning of the poem? Why does he feel this way?
2. When the speaker hears tapping at his door, who does he think it is at first? How does e feel
when it turns out to be something else? Include textual evidence from the poem in your answers.
3. What is the speaker’s first reaction to the raven’s presence? What is his reaction by the
poem’s end? What happens to change his mind?
Literary Analysis Questions:
1. What effect might the repetition of “Nevermore” have on a reader? Find three other examples
of repetition in the poem.
2. Poe said that he broke the mood of “The Raven” at the halfway point, the end of line 54.
What effect might this change have on a reader? Support your answer with examples.
3. Do you think the raven knows what it is saying? Or is the speaker reading into it his own
thoughts? Explain your answer.
Close Reading:
An allusion is a reference to a character, place, or situation from another work of art or literature,
or from history. For example, the raven in Poe’s poem may be an allusion to the bird that served
as a messenger for Apollo, the Greek sun god. Also, ravenous meaning “extremely hungry”
comes from the word raven. That meaning is echoed in the line “Take thy beak from out my
1. Find one other allusion in the poem and research its meaning.