Quote The Raven “Nevermore, Nevermore”
Edgar Allan Poe (né Edgar Poe; January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor, and literary critic who is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States, and of American literature. He was one of the country’s earliest practitioners of the short story, and is considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre, as well as a significant contributor to the emerging genre of science fiction. He is the first well-known American writer to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.
Poe was born in Boston, the second child of actors David and Elizabeth “Eliza” Poe. His father abandoned the family in 1810, and when his mother died the following year, Poe was taken in by John and Frances Allan of Richmond, Virginia. They never formally adopted him, but he was with them well into young adulthood. He attended the University of Virginia but left after a year due to lack of money. He quarreled with John Allan over the funds for his education, and his gambling debts. In 1827, having enlisted in the United States Army under an assumed name, he published his first collection, Tamerlane and Other Poems, credited only to “a Bostonian”. Poe and Allan reached a temporary rapprochement after the death of Allan’s wife in 1829. Poe later failed as an officer cadet at West Point, declared a firm wish to be a poet and writer, and parted ways with Allan. Poe switched his focus to prose, and spent the next several years working for literary journals and periodicals, becoming known for his own style of literary criticism. His work forced him to move among several cities, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. In 1836, he married his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm, but she died of tuberculosis in 1847. In January 1845, he published his poem “The Raven” to instant success. He planned for years to produce his own journal The Penn (later renamed The Stylus), but before it could be produced, he died in Baltimore on October 7, 1849, aged 40, under mysterious circumstances. The cause of his death remains unknown, and has been variously attributed to many causes including disease, alcoholism, substance abuse, and suicide.
Poe and his works influenced literature around the world, as well as specialized fields such as cosmology and cryptography. He and his work appear throughout popular culture in literature, music, films, and television. A number of his homes are dedicated museums. The Mystery Writers of America present an annual Edgar Award for distinguished work in the mystery genre.
Edgar Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 19, 1809, the second child of American actor David Poe Jr. and English-born actress Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe. He had an elder brother, Henry, and a younger sister, Rosalie. Their grandfather, David Poe, had emigrated from County Cavan, Ireland, around 1750.
His father abandoned the family in 1810, and his mother died a year later from consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis). Poe was then taken into the home of John Allan, a successful merchant in Richmond, Virginia, who dealt in a variety of goods, including cloth, wheat, tombstones, tobacco, and human trade. The Allans served as a foster family and gave him the name “Edgar Allan Poe”, although they never formally adopted him.
The Allan family had Poe baptized into the Episcopal Church in 1812. John Allan alternately spoiled and aggressively disciplined his foster son. The family sailed to the United Kingdom in 1815, and Poe attended the grammar school for a short period in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland (where Allan was born) before rejoining the family in London in 1816. There he studied at a boarding school in Chelsea until summer 1817. He was subsequently entered at the Reverend John Bransby’s Manor House School at Stoke Newington, then a suburb 4 miles (6 km) north of London.
Poe moved with the Allans back to Richmond in 1820. In 1824, he served as the lieutenant of the Richmond youth honor guard as the city celebrated the visit of the Marquis de Lafayette. In March 1825, Allan’s uncle and business benefactor William Galt died, who was said to be one of the wealthiest men in Richmond, leaving Allan several acres of real estate. The inheritance was estimated at $750,000 (equivalent to $19,000,000 in 2023). By summer 1825, Allan celebrated his expansive wealth by purchasing a two-story brick house called Moldavia.
Poe may have become engaged to Sarah Elmira Royster before he registered at the University of Virginia in February 1826 to study ancient and modern languages. The university was in its infancy, established on the ideals of its founder Thomas Jefferson. It had strict rules against gambling, horses, guns, tobacco, and alcohol, but these rules were mostly ignored. Jefferson enacted a system of student self-government, allowing students to choose their own studies, make their own arrangements for boarding, and report all wrongdoing to the faculty. The unique system was still in chaos, and there was a high dropout rate. During his time there, Poe lost touch with Royster and also became estranged from his foster father over gambling debts. He claimed that Allan had not given him sufficient money to register for classes, purchase texts, and procure and furnish a dormitory. Allan did send additional money and clothes, but Poe’s debts increased. Poe gave up on the university after a year but did not feel welcome returning to Richmond, especially when he learned that his sweetheart Royster had married another man, Alexander Shelton. He traveled to Boston in April 1827, sustaining himself with odd jobs as a clerk and newspaper writer, and started using the pseudonym Henri Le Rennet during this period.
On October 3, 1849, Poe was found semiconscious in Baltimore, “in great distress, and… in need of immediate assistance”, according to Joseph W. Walker, who found him. He was taken to the Washington Medical College, where he died on Sunday, October 7, 1849, at 5:00 in the morning. Poe was not coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition and why he was wearing clothes that were not his own. He is said to have repeatedly called out the name “Reynolds” on the night before his death, though it is unclear to whom he was referring. His attending physician said that Poe’s final words were, “Lord help my poor soul”. All of the relevant medical records have been lost, including Poe’s death certificate.
It was raining in Baltimore on October 3, 1849, but that didn’t stop Joseph W. Walker, a compositor for the Baltimore Sun, from heading out to Gunner’s Hall, a public house bustling with activity. It was Election Day, and Gunner’s Hall served as a pop-up polling location for the 4th Ward polls. When Walker arrived at Gunner’s Hall, he found a man, delirious and dressed in shabby secondhand clothes, lying in the gutter. The man was semi-conscious and unable to move, but as Walker approached him, he discovered something unexpected: The man was Edgar Allan Poe. Worried about the health of the addled poet, Walker stopped and asked Poe if he had any acquaintances in Baltimore who might be able to help him. Poe gave Walker the name of Joseph E. Snodgrass, a magazine editor with some medical training. Immediately, Walker wrote Snodgrass a letter asking for help: magazine editor with some medical training. Immediately, Walker wrote Snodgrass a letter asking for help:
Baltimore City, Oct. 3, 1849
There is a gentleman, rather the worse for wear, at Ryan’s 4th ward polls, who goes under the cognomen of Edgar A. Poe, and who appears in great distress, & he says he is acquainted with you, he is in need of immediate assistance.
Yours, in haste,
JOS. W. WALKER
To Dr. J.E. Snodgrass.
On September 27—almost a week earlier—Poe had left Richmond, Virginia, bound for Philadelphia to edit a collection of poems for Marguerite St. Leon Loud, a minor figure in American poetry at the time. When Walker found Poe in delirious disarray outside of the polling place, it was the first anyone had heard or seen of the poet since his departure from Richmond. Poe never made it to Philadelphia to attend to his editing business. Nor did he ever make it back to New York, where he had been living, to escort his aunt back to Richmond for his impending wedding. Poe was never to leave Baltimore, where he launched his career in the early 19th century, again—and in the four days between Walker finding Poe outside the public house and Poe’s death on October 7, he never regained enough consciousness to explain how he had come to be found, in soiled clothes not his own, incoherent on the streets. Instead, Poe spent his final days wavering between fits of delirium, gripped by visual hallucinations. The night before his death, according to his attending physician John J. Moran, Poe repeatedly called out for “Reynolds”—a figure who, to this day, remains a mystery.
Poe’s death—shrouded in mystery—seems ripped directly from the pages of one of his own works. He had spent years crafting a careful image of a man inspired by adventure and fascinated with enigmas—a poet, a detective, an author, a world traveler who fought in the Greek War of Independence and was held prisoner in Russia. But though his death certificate listed the cause of death as phrenitis, or swelling of the brain, the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death have led many to speculate about the true cause of Poe’s demise. “Maybe it’s fitting that since he invented the detective story,” says Chris Semtner, curator of the Poe Museum in Richmond, “he left us with a real-life mystery.”
Newspapers at the time reported Poe’s death as “congestion of the brain” or “cerebral inflammation”, common euphemisms for death from disreputable causes such as alcoholism. The actual cause of death remains a mystery. Speculation has included delirium tremens, heart disease, epilepsy, syphilis, meningeal inflammation, cholera, carbon monoxide poisoning, and rabies. One theory dating from 1872 suggests that Poe’s death resulted from cooping, a form of electoral fraud in which citizens were forced to vote for a particular candidate, sometimes leading to violence and even murder.
The historical Edgar Allan Poe has appeared as a fictionalized character, often in order to represent the “mad genius” or “tormented artist” and in order to exploit his personal struggles. Many such depictions also blend in with characters from his stories, suggesting that Poe and his characters share identities. Often, fictional depictions of Poe use his mystery-solving skills in such novels as The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl.
No childhood home of Poe is still standing, including the Allan family’s Moldavia estate. The oldest standing home in Richmond, the Old Stone House, is in use as the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, though Poe never lived there. The collection includes many items that Poe used during his time with the Allan family, and also features several rare first printings of Poe works. 13 West Range is the dorm room that Poe is believed to have used while studying at the University of Virginia in 1826; it is preserved and available for visits. Its upkeep is overseen by a group of students and staff known as the Raven Society.
Edgar Allan Poe: Odd and interesting facts about the dark and mysterious poet behind ‘The Raven’
- How old was Poe when he became an orphan?
Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on Jan. 19, 1809, but he was immediately abandoned by his father in 1810.
A year later on Dec. 8, 1811, at age 24, Poe’s mother, Eliza, died of tuberculosis, according to The Poe Museum.
Poe and his two siblings were then taken in by their godparents, John and Frances Allan, a wealthy family from Richmond, Virginia.
- How much was Poe paid for ‘The Raven’ when it was published?
Poe’s best-known work is the descriptive, dark poem entitled “The Raven.”
He sold the now-iconic poem to a literary magazine, The American Review, for its February 1845 issue, — for a grand total of $9. It printed the poem with the pseudonym “Quarles.”
However, that same year in January, a New York magazine — The Evening Mirror — released an advanced copy of the poem under Poe’s name.
- How old was Poe’s wife, Virginia Clemm, when they wed?
Poe married his cousin, Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe, when he was 27 years old.
When Poe and Virginia wed, she was only 13 years old, wrote The Poe Museum.
The two met a year before, when Poe invited his cousin and his aunt, Maria, to stay with him in Richmond, The Poe Museum says.
- How many theories exist about the death of Edgar Allan Poe?
There are as many as 26 theories about Poe’s cause of death, reports The Poe Museum.
Some of the possibilities noted include dipsomania, heart disease, tuberculosis, toxic disorder, hypoglycemia, diabetes, alcohol dehydrogenase, porphryia, Delerium tremens, rabies, murder, flu, heavy metal poisoning and carbon monoxide poisoning.
- How long does it take to recite ‘The Raven’?
Poe’s well-known poem consists of 18 stanzas, with six lines in each stanza — 108 lines in total.
The poem can take 24 minutes to recite if spoken at a rate of 250 words per minute, according to readinglength.com.
- How many pets did Poe and his wife have?
Poe had one tortoiseshell cat named “Cattarina,” which is rumored to have perched on the poet’s shoulders when he was writing short stories.
“Cats were a source of much solace to the writer whose life was as tormented as his tales,” the same source also said.
It has been rumored Poe had a Siamese cat as well — and a film adaption of the poet’s life depicted the writer with a pet raccoon. However, there’s no conclusive evidence for these claims.
- For how many years did the mysterious ‘Poe Toaster’ leave Cognac and three roses at Poe’s grave site?
For over 70 years, a mysterious person called the “Poe Toaster” — dressed in black and wearing a white scarf and large hat — left a bottle of Cognac and three red roses on Poe’s grave every year on January 19, Poe’s birthday.
The tradition came to a mysterious end in 2009 — and the identity of the person or persons has not been discovered, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
- How many sports teams did Poe inspire with his work?
Edgar Allan Poe is the inspiration behind one NFL team, the Baltimore Ravens.
In 1996, the pro football team took a new name inspired by Poe’s most famous work.
“Named after a mythical bird in a famous poem, the new NFL team in Baltimore became the Ravens ‘evermore’ team on Friday, March 29, 1996,” shared the Baltimore Ravens history page.
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 someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. “
“’Tis some visitor,” 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 visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor 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 mortals 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 blest 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 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.”
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,
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.”
This 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 lamplight gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!
Then, me thought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls 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 in 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 lamplight 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!
REST IN PEACE EDGAR ALLEN POE!