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The Raven

The Raven

by Edgar Allan Poe

Stanzas IX & X Summary

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

Lines 49-54

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 blest with seeing bird above his chamber door –
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

  • The speaker is more than a little surprised to hear this bird talk (49), but he doesn't really see how "Nevermore" answers his question (50). He underlines this by pointing out that no one before him has ever had a bird (or even an animal) named "Nevermore" sitting on a statue in his room. Pretty tough to argue with him there.
  • We're pretty sure this bird-named-Nevermore thing is a joke, but we'll admit that maybe it's not laugh-out-loud funny.

Lines 55-60

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 further 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."

  • After that one word, the bird clams up and refuses to say any more (55).
  • There's something mysterious and powerful about that word, though, and the speaker has the feeling that it contains the bird's whole soul (56).
  • The bird keeps quiet, and the speaker, now maybe a little bit annoyed, slips back into his depressed mode. Now he sees the bird not as a welcome, amusing visitor, but just one more in the long line of friends who have abandoned him.
  • So, he keeps talking to himself, reminding himself that, "Other friends have flown before" (58). He is sure that the bird will disappear by tomorrow, leaving him as alone and hopeless as ever (59).
  • Then the bird gives him his favorite line again: "Nevermore."

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