Mar 8, 2014

The Raven


             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 visiter", 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 visiter entreating entrance at my chamber
                                                            door -
             Some late visiter 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 my sad 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."

             Thus 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!

             (1844-1849)

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