Read & Listen: “The Raven” read by James Earl Jones

“The Raven” was published on this date in 1845, which led to Poe’s overnight fame. It is arguably Poe’s most well known work, and one of the most famous poems ever written. Poe’s 1846 essay “The Philosophy of Composition” describes his careful crafting of the poem.

Consisting of 18 six-line stanzas; the first five lines of each are written in trochaic octameter, the sixth in trochaic tetrameter. The rhyme pattern, abcbbb, enhances the dark tone; the rhymes are, or rhyme with, “Lenore” and “Nevermore.”

Listen and read along as James Earl Jones performs “The Raven.”

The Raven

BY EDGAR ALLAN POE

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”
    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    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.
    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
            This it is and nothing more.”
    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
            Darkness there and nothing more.
    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
            Merely this and nothing more.
    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
      Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”
    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
            Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
            With such name as “Nevermore.”
    But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
    Nothing farther 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.”
            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”
    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
            Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”
    But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy 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.”
    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.
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
    On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    “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 sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    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!

Listen: Author Interview, Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe

Listen to WAMC’s interview with author J.W. Ocker about his Poe travel diary, which follows the odd life and legacy of Poe.

In the new Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan PoeJ. W. Ocker explores Poe’s strange physical legacy along the East Coast and across the ocean by touring Poe’s homes, examining artifacts from his life–locks of his hair, pieces of his coffin, original manuscripts, the bed where his wife died–and traveling to the many memorials dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe.

Poe-Land is a unique travel diary that follows the afterlife of the poet, author, and critic who invented detective fiction, advanced the emerging genre of science fiction, and elevated the horror genre with an unrivaled mastery over the macabre that has made the genre what it is today.

Big Read Connects Tucson Officially Launches Today!

Hello Big Readers! Today is September 1st, which means today marks the official launch of Big Read Connects Tucson!

Over the next nine months, through May 2016, Literacy Connects and all of our community partners will be bringing you a host of events and activities to help you get connected to Edgar Allan Poe.

To kick things off, we thought we’d introduce something fun that will be going on throughout the program that anyone can get involved in. Big Read Connects Tucson wants everyone to read Poe. What better way to do that than to give away free books.

Introducing the “POEfound” project! Throughout the program we will be leaving Poe anthologies (and a few surprises) at various places around town for you to find. Coffee shops, park benches and theater chairs are all fair game, so keep your eyes open.

What’s the catch? All we ask is that you read your POEfound book and share with us where and when you found it, and anything else that you would like on our Big Read Connects Tucson Facebook page. On the inside front cover of each of these books you will find a sticker with some guidance on how to connect with us. Play along and have fun!

CTA Capture

We hope you are as excited about this as we are. Take a look at our Partner list and Event page for more ways to get involved. If you have any more fun, Poe-inspired ideas or plans by all means share that with us. Poe dinner party? Awesome! Poe costume contest? Perfect! Poe choral reading? Why not!

 
Don’t forget to follow our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages as well to get connected from #HeadToPoe.

Big Read Teacher’s Guide

We’ll be posting curricula for all ages throughout the year, and decided to kick off Big Read Connects Tucson by sharing the Poe Teacher’s Guide provided by The Big Read.

This Big Read Teacher’s Guide contains ten lessons to lead you through an introduction to the poetry and short stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Each lesson has four sections: a focus topic, discussion activities, writing exercises, and homework assignments.  All lessons dovetail with the state language arts standards required in the fiction genre.

The Big Read Reader’s Guide deepens your exploration with interviews, booklists, timelines, and historical information. This guide and syllabus will allow you to have fun with your students while introducing them to the work of a great American author.

The Big Read Teacher’s Guide: The Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

Visit our Education page for more curricula!

Mini BIO: Edgar Allan Poe

Do you know Poe?

Over the coming months, Big Read Connects Tucson will be exploring and celebrating Poe — the man, the myth and his works in great depth. Before we delve in, we’d like to provide context for the life and work of this master of the macabre!

Check out this short video biography about Edgar Allan Poe’s life and work, including his early life, his short stories, his poem “The Raven,” and his mysterious death in Baltimore in 1849.

Check the shadows. Poe is here.

We’re pleased to announce Big Read Connects Tucson, a community collaboration presented by Literacy Connects through a Big Read grant.

Join us and follow our blog, “Connected from Head to Poe” where you can explore the fascinating life and work of Edgar Allan Poe, learn more about our Big Read Connects Tucson events and discover how you can get connected to Poe. Stay tuned this August for posts on Poe’s world and words, works about Poe, and work inspired by Poe. In September, we will share Big Read Connects Tucson original content to bring you closer to Poe and all the Big Read Connects Tucson events happening around town. Learn about Poe’s mysterious death and equally mysterious birthday visitor. Learn about the movies inspired by Poe, Poe fiction or fact, how you can celebrate Poe and more. Get connected from head to Poe — follow us on social media and subscribe to our blog!

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Poe

You’ve read Edgar Allan Poe’s terrifying stories. You can quote “The Raven.” How well do you know the writer’s quirky sense of humor and code-cracking abilities, though? Let’s take a look at five things you might not know about the acclaimed author, courtesy of Mental Floss.