“The Raven,” unequivocally the most famous of Poe’s small body of poetry, may be among our most famous bad poems. Americans are fond of saying we do not read and do not care for poetry. It may be so. Yet Americans commonly recognize Poe’s bird as subject of a poem by a weird guy who drank himself to death. Written and published in 1845, in print steadily for 148 years, the stanzas of ”The Raven” are sonic flashcards. We may not know Whitman, Dickinson, Frost, or Eliot. But we do know Poe. We know “The Raven.”
A poem that might have been designed by
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