"The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe

The speaker of this poem, who is mourning a lost love, is visited in the night by a raven who speaks a single word: "Nevermore." Read the full text here.

Here are links to our lists for other works by Edgar Allan Poe: The Black Cat, The Cask of Amontillado, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Purloined Letter, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Masque of the Red Death, The Murders in the Rue Morgue
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definitions & notes only words
  1. ponder
    reflect deeply on a subject
    Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
    Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
  2. quaint
    strange in an interesting or pleasing way
    Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
    Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
  3. chamber
    a room used primarily for sleeping
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
    As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
  4. bleak
    unpleasantly cold and damp
    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
    And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
  5. entreat
    ask for or request earnestly
    “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
    Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
    This it is and nothing more.”
  6. implore
    beg or call upon in supplication
    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
    “Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore..."
  7. lattice
    framework consisting of an ornamental wood or metal design
    “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!”
  8. stately
    refined or imposing in manner or appearance
    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
  9. yore
    time long past
    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
  10. obeisance
    bending the head or body in reverence or submission
    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.
  11. mien
    a person's appearance, manner, or demeanor
    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.
  12. bust
    a sculpture of the head and shoulders of a person
    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.
    In Greek mythology, Pallas is another name for Athena, goddess of wisdom and warfare.
  13. beguile
    influence by slyness
    Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
    By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore
  14. stern
    of a strict bearing or demeanor; forbidding in aspect
    Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
    By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore
  15. decorum
    propriety in manners and conduct
    Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
    By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore
  16. countenance
    the appearance conveyed by a person's face
    Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
    By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore
  17. craven
    an abject coward
    “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!”
  18. ghastly
    shockingly repellent; inspiring horror
    “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!”
  19. ungainly
    lacking grace in movement or posture
    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
    Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore
  20. placid
    not easily irritated
    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.
  21. aptly
    in a competent capable manner
    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’.”
  22. burden
    the central meaning or theme of a speech or literary work
    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’.”
    In this line, burden literally means "the refrain or chorus of a musical composition."
  23. dirge
    a song or hymn of mourning as a memorial to a dead person
    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’.”
  24. melancholy
    grave or even gloomy in character
    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’.”
  25. ominous
    threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments
    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.”
  26. gaunt
    very thin especially from disease or hunger or cold
    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.”
  27. divine
    perceive through some inexplicable perceptive powers
    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!
  28. gloat
    gaze at or think about something with self-satisfaction
    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!
  29. seraph
    an angel of the first order
    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
    Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
  30. respite
    a relief from harm or discomfort
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respiterespite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
    Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
    Nepenthe is a potion that allows the drinker to forget his or her suffering.
  31. quaff
    swallow hurriedly or greedily or in one draught
    “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!”
  32. undaunted
    unshaken in purpose
    “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!”
  33. balm
    an aromatic resinous substance used for healing and soothing
    “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!”
  34. laden
    burdened psychologically or mentally
    “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.”
  35. pallid
    deficient in color suggesting physical or emotional distress
    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
    On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door

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