Quoth “The Raven”: It’s My Birthday! Poe’s Poem turns 168


Yesterday marked the anniversary of  the publication Edgar Allan Poe‘s classic, creepy poem “The Raven.” Although there is some dispute, the first publication of the work is generally attributed to The New York Mirror.  The poem made Poe a star, but sadly, not a fortune.

In the poem, a raven continuously visits a man who has been unlucky in love. The object of his affections, a woman named “Lenore” has been lost to him evermore. The poem’s internal rhymes and alliteration, along with its spooky, supernatural content made its lines easy to remember and it soon became incredibly popular.

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.”

 to render it manifest that no one point in its composition is referrible [sic] either to accident or intuition — that the work proceeded, step by step, to its completion with the precision and rigid consequence of a mathematical problem.

Let us dismiss, as irrelevant to the poem per se, the circumstance — or say the necessity — which, in the first place, gave rise to the intention of composing a poem that should suit at once the popular and the critical taste.

Poe’s formula obviously worked, as it is still popular with both critics and the public alike to this day.

Feeling like you want a little fright? Take a listen to the perennially creepy Christopher Walken read the poem in its entirety: