The Complete Poetical Works of Edgar Allan Poe Including Essays on Poetry

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 191

all points, I asked myself--"Of all
melancholy topics what, according to the _universal_ understanding of
mankind, is the _most_ melancholy?" Death, was the obvious reply. "And
when," I said, "is this most melancholy of topics most poetical?" From
what I have already explained at some length, the answer here also is
obvious--"When it most closely allies itself to _Beauty_; the death,
then, of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in
the world, and equally is it beyond doubt that the lips best suited for
such topic are those of a bereaved lover."

I had now to combine the two ideas of a lover lamenting his deceased
mistress and a Raven continuously repeating the word "Nevermore." I had
to combine these, bearing in mind my design of varying at every turn the
_application_ of the word repeated, but the only intelligible mode of
such combination is that of imagining the Raven employing the word in
answer to the queries of the lover. And here it was that I saw at once
the opportunity afforded for the effect on which I had been depending,
that is to say, the effect of the _variation of application_. I saw that
I could make the first query propounded by the lover--the first query to
which the Raven should reply "Nevermore"--that I could make this first
query a commonplace one, the second less so, the third still less, and
so on, until at length the lover, startled from his original
_nonchalance_ by the melancholy character of the word itself, by its
frequent repetition, and by a consideration of the ominous reputation of
the fowl that uttered it, is at length excited to superstition, and
wildly propounds queries of a far different character--queries whose
solution he has passionately at heart--propounds them half in
superstition and half in that species of despair which delights in
self-torture--propounds them not altogether because he believes in the
prophetic or demoniac character of the bird (which reason assures him is
merely repeating a lesson learned by rote), but because he experiences a
frenzied pleasure in so modelling his questions as to receive from the
_expected_ "Nevermore" the most delicious because the most intolerable
of sorrow. Perceiving the opportunity thus afforded me, or, more
strictly, thus forced upon me in the progress of the construction, I
first established in mind the climax or concluding query--that query to
which "Nevermore" should be in the last place an answer--that query in
reply to which this word "Nevermore" should involve the utmost
conceivable amount of sorrow and despair.

Here then the poem may be said to have its beginning, at the

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Text Comparison with Le Corbeau = The Raven

Page 0
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.
Page 1
c'était en le glacial Décembre: et chaque tison, mourant isolé, ouvrageait son spectre sur le sol.
Page 2
Voyons donc ce qu'il y a et explorons ce mystère--que mon coeur se calme un moment et explore ce mystère; c'est le vent et rien de plus.
Page 3
Il ne fit pas la moindre révérence, il ne s'arrêta ni n'hésita un instant: mais, avec une mine de lord ou de lady, se percha au-dessus de la porte de ma chambre--se percha sur un buste de Pallas juste au-dessus de la porte de ma chambre--se percha, siégea et rien de plus.
Page 4
Nothing further 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.
Page 5
»_ 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.
Page 6
» Le Corbeau dit: «Jamais plus!»_ "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 saintly maiden whom the angels name Lenore-- Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.
Page 7
Laisse inviolé mon abandon! quitte le buste au-dessus de ma porte! ôte ton bec de mon coeur et jette ta forme loin de ma porte!» Le Corbeau dit: «Jamais plus!»_ 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 lamp-light 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! _Et le Corbeau, sans voleter, siége encore--siége encore sur le buste pallide de Pallas, juste au-dessus de la porte de ma chambre, et ses yeux ont toute la semblance des yeux d'un démon qui rêve, et la lumière de la lampe, ruisselant sur lui, projette son ombre à terre: et mon âme, de cette ombre qui gît flottante à terre, ne s'élèvera--jamais plus!_.