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.”
In this painting, reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s famously gloomy narrative poem “The Raven” (1845), we see a striking resemblance to the artist himself in the role of Poe’s protagonist.
Poe’s story begins, on a bleak December evening with a young student attempting to bury his sorrows in the pages of an old book after the death of his girlfriend, Lenore. As he begins to nod off, he is startled awake by a late night tapping at his chamber door. Believing it to be a visitor and nothing more who has awaked him, he goes to the door but finds no one.
Troubled by the silence and once again longing for his lost Lenore, he whispers her name into the shadows only to be answered by the echo of his voice. This puzzling occurrence makes him increasingly fearful, but he tells himself it is probably the wind and nothing more.
As he returns to his chamber, he hears yet another tap, this time at the window, and louder than before.
With his heart racing, he runs to the window, opens the shutters, and watches as an ebony bird with a grave and stern demeanor flies in and perches above his chamber door.
“Tell me what thy lordly name is?” The student asks.
“NEVERMORE,” the bird responds.
“ No, really, what’s your name?
“NEVERMORE,” the bird says again.
“Will I meet Lenore in Paradise?”
” All right then, when will you be leaving?”
“ I mean how long will your shadow be thrown upon the floor?”
“NEVERMORE, NEVERMORE, NEVERMORE!”
Poe himself said the raven was meant to symbolize “mournful and never-ending remembrance.” Still, when you’re feeling downhearted and looking for an intelligent response to life’s questions, you might do better than to ask a bird.