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

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 193

half, the fifth the same, the sixth three and a half. Now, each of these
lines taken individually has been employed before, and what originality
the "Raven" has, is in their _combinations into stanzas;_ nothing even
remotely approaching this combination has ever been attempted. The
effect of this originality of combination is aided by other unusual and
some altogether novel effects, arising from an extension of the
application of the principles of rhyme and alliteration.

The next point to be considered was the mode of bringing together the
lover and the Raven--and the first branch of this consideration was the
_locale_. For this the most natural suggestion might seem to be a
forest, or the fields--but it has always appeared to me that a close
_circumscription of space_ is absolutely necessary to the effect of
insulated incident--it has the force of a frame to a picture. It has an
indisputable moral power in keeping concentrated the attention, and, of
course, must not be confounded with mere unity of place.

I determined, then, to place the lover in his chamber--in a chamber
rendered sacred to him by memories of her who had frequented it. The
room is represented as richly furnished--this in mere pursuance of the
ideas I have already explained on the subject of Beauty, as the sole
true poetical thesis.

The _locale_ being thus determined, I had now to introduce the bird--and
the thought of introducing him through the window was inevitable. The
idea of making the lover suppose, in the first instance, that the
flapping of the wings of the bird against the shutter, is a "tapping" at
the door, originated in a wish to increase, by prolonging, the reader's
curiosity, and in a desire to admit the incidental effect arising from
the lover's throwing open the door, finding all dark, and thence
adopting the half-fancy that it was the spirit of his mistress that

I made the night tempestuous, first to account for the Raven's seeking
admission, and secondly, for the effect of contrast with the (physical)
serenity within the chamber.

I made the bird alight on the bust of Pallas, also for the effect of
contrast between the marble and the plumage--it being understood that
the bust was absolutely _suggested_ by the bird--the bust of _Pallas_
being chosen, first, as most in keeping with the scholarship of the
lover, and, secondly, for the sonorousness of the word, Pallas, itself.

About the middle of the poem, also, I have availed myself of the force
of contrast, with a view of deepening the ultimate impression. For
example, an air of the fantastic--approaching as nearly to the

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Text Comparison with The Raven

Page 0
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-- Only this and nothing more.
Page 1
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, Soon again I heard a tapping something louder than before.
Page 2
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
Page 3
" This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core; This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er, But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er _She_ shall press, ah, nevermore! Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
Page 4
" 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 shadows on the floor; And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted--nevermore!.