The Raven
The Raven
by Edgar Allan Poe

Stanzas XI & XII Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 61-66

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.'"

  • This time the answer is a little bit spookier. He said the bird was going to leave and the bird said, "Nevermore."
  • That actually makes sense. It's "aptly spoken," as the speaker says. Again, he's a little freaked out, and again he looks for a plausible explanation.
  • He tells himself that this bird only knows one word ("his only stock and store") and uses it for every situation. He even tells himself a little story about how the raven might have learned the word.
  • He imagines that the bird had a really, really depressed former owner, whose life was such a mess that all he could say was "Nevermore."

Lines 67-72

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."

  • For some reason he's still fascinated by the bird, and he repeats line 43, about how it beguiles his fancy. So he pulls up a chair, sits in front of the bird, and really lets his imagination go to work.
  • He seems like an obsessive guy, and he's already pretty into this raven.
  • He sinks into the chair and tries to think what this scary, ancient-looking bird could mean with this one word.
  • Even though he guesses that it's just a random word the bird has learned, something still intrigues him; he can't quite let this go.

Next Page: Stanzas XIII & XIV
Previous Page: Stanzas IX & X

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