Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven begins with a sense of quiet, calm melancholy. The narrator is looking through a number of "curious volumes of forgotten lore" for some words of solace to relieve his sorrow for "the lost Lenore."
"Suddenly there came a tapping," which surprises the narrator and lifts him out of his reverie. He seems excited by the prospect of having a visitor at his door who will distract him from his melancholy and relieve his sadness.
The narrator is frightened, but expectant.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before...
He opens the door, but sees nothing but darkness.
Disappointed, but still excited by the prospect of someone at the door, he turns back into the room and hears the tapping again.
This time, he goes to the window and enthusiastically flings open the shutter. In steps the raven, flapping and fluttering, and it takes its place on the bust of Pallas above the door.
His melancholy momentarily forgotten, the narrator is beguiled and amused by the raven. He smiles, and he marvels at the raven's ability to speak, even if the only word he speaks is "Nevermore."
The narrator pulls a cushioned chair in front of the door, below the raven perched on the bust of Pallas and muses about what the raven means by "Nevermore."
The narrator leans back into the violet velvet cushions on the chair, and his melancholy suddenly returns when he remembers that Lenore will never again lean into that same cushion as she did so many times before.
The narrator reacts violently to being shocked back to reality and reminded of his "lost Lenore." He shouts at the raven, ordering it out of the room and back into the night, but the raven doesn't move. It sits on the bust above the door, its "fiery eyes" burning deep into the narrator's heart and soul.
The narrator slumps back into the chair, and he falls into what Poe called in "The Philosophy of Composition," a state of "mournful and never-ending remembrance."