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EDGAR ALLAN POE was born in Baltimore, in January, 1811, and died there in October, 1849. He was the second of three children, left utterly destitute upon the death of their parents, who led the life of roving play. actors. Being a bright and beautiful boy, he was adopted by Mr. John Allan, a wealthy citizen of Richmond, Virginia, and by him afforded the advantages of a complete education. But his whole course of life seems to have been marked with strangely wild and dissolute habits, and, though his writings discover no ordinary power of thought and expression, they are marred by “an absence of moral sentiment," it has been observed, “almost unexampled in literature." In the following piece, the student will scarcely fail to notice, in the subject, the characteristic gloom of his topics, while, in the execution, he will see, at once, the rare capabilities of the English language and the rarer skill of this singular genius in developing them.
1 PlurO'NIAN, pertaining to Pluto, another name for Hades, the fabled god of the lower regions.
* NEPEN'THE is from the Greek (NE, not or without, and PENTHE. grief or sorrow), and is a name applied to a medicine that relieves pain or soothes grief.
8 AIDENN is, according to the opinion of some, a form of the Greek word Hades, which signifies, literally, unseen; the name being in later times applied to the place of the dead, -the spiritual world. According to others, it is “an Anglicized and disguised spelling of the Arabic form of the word Eden ;-used as a synonym for the celestial paradise." See Webster's New Dictionary, page 1545.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Only this, and nothing more.”
Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore
Nameless here forevermore.
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 lat 3 zisitor, entreating entrance at my chamber-door:
That it is, and nothing more.”
. iv. 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 mortals 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.
VI. Lack into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, Soon again I heard a tapping, something 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 Aung 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-doorPerched upon a bust of Pallas,* just above my chamber-door
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
VIII. '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!”
IX. Much I marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly, Though its answer little meaning-little relevancy bore; For we can not help agreeing that no living human being Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber-doorBird 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
tered 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!"
* See Note on Exercise CXIII.
Startled at the stillness, broken by reply so aptly spoken,
Of— Never— Nevermore !!"
XII. 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 yoreWhat this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking—"Nevermore !”
XIII. 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 neper -he, 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 enchantedOn this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I imploreIs there-is there balm in Gilead ?—tell me tell me, I implore " Quoth the raven,-"Nevermore!"
XVI. "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 !"
XVII. “ Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked,
upstartingGet 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 !"
XVIII. 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 sou from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted— NEVERMORE !