Does Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" merit the continued attention that it has received for the last 100 years?
I really love and enjoy this poem. What I appreciate most about it is precisely what #3 does not like about it, and that is the pyschological element of this poem that gives us an excellent example of projection and self-torture. That may make me kind of morbid, but I think this poem, as with so many of Poe's works, is fascinating not only for its structure and meter but for the understanding it gives us about death and how it impacts those that are left behind more than those that die.
There is just something appealing about this poem when it is read aloud. As others have said, "The Raven" is a perfect blend of sound and sense--the words and rhythm match the tone and meaning. It is intricately rhymed and metered, full of all kinds of poetic elements (alliteration, figures of speech, rhyme, and others) which are fairly easy to identify. This makes it useful to study as well as interesting to read--and the multitudes of parodies and renditions are fun to spend a little time on, as well. I never study it in class for more than a day, and it is worth that day to me.
Poe simply seems to be one of those staples that exist within literature. Students tend to like the dark language and "spooky" themes of Poe's works. "The Raven" has actually been portrayed on "The Simpsons". My students love watching it after reading the poem. It seems to just be one of those poems that has the power to stick it out.
When teaching a poem like "The Raven," a teacher can tell how effective it was by hearing the students in the hall quoting "Nevermore" and "Lenore." My high school students seem to appreciate this poem in all its dark, deep, mysterious language. This poem will be around for quite some time. Also, my students seem to enjoy repeating the term "bells, bells, bells." Poe fascinates his readers. They always come back for more.
I definitely think the Raven should be taught, and consider it one of the best American poems ever. Rarely is there such a perfect mix of style and substance. The Raven both sounds incredibly rhythmic and beautiful, but also includes excellent use of literacy devices, such as metaphor, alliteration, irony, and allusion. In addition there excel technical strengths, the use of verse, meter, rhyme scheme, and inner verse rhyming all work something to create an image and give voice to the speaker. For me, the Raven is everything a poem should be. It may not play or read like a film or novel, but the rhythmic and unchanging reframe of the raven's "nevermore”, unaccompanied by anything else, combined with the themes of love, lost love, death, loneliness and one’s decent into insanity, make many important comments on life, and does so beautifully and stylishly.
I totally see why the poem is so famous. Dark and brooding as he was, Poe experienced real pain watching his beloved wife die slowly from tuberculosis, the disease which he dreaded more than any other. The poem expresses beautifully the pain of losing a love one which never goes away. The raven is not so much frightening as it is a depressing and painful presence which will depart "nevermore." And the Raven DOES say something--by his very presence. The speaker is not frightening himself, he is crying out for relief from the pain:
`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 named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'
Aside from the meaning of the poem, bullgatortail has beautifully explained and elaborated on its poetic device which to me is absolutely magnificent. Thousands of people know lines of the poem from memory (the entire poem is too long to memorize) and have been struck by its poetic beauty which, as bullgatortail correctly stated, is best read aloud. So, yes, for anyone with the remotest understanding or appreciation of poetry, it richly deserves its fame.
I don't really think so. I do like the meter of the poem as the first post says. However, the content of the poem does not really seem to deserve its fame. The poem is supposed to be so suspenseful and the raven is supposed to be so psychologically frightening. But the raven never really says anything. He's not doing anything to frighten the speaker. The speaker is simply frightening himself. So I just don't see why this poem is so famous.
There are very few poems that have been studied in American schools more regularly than Edgar Allan Poe's masterpiece, "The Raven." There are a number of reasons for its continued popularity. Poe's typical macabre and spooky nature are evident throughout, particularly in the madness that seems to be overcoming the man and with the appearance of the raven--black and inherently evil. The setting, long after midnight on a lonely, "bleak December" night, further adds to the poem's atmospheric qualities, as does the true reason for the bird's purpose and the constant reference to the mysterious "lost Lenore."
Unlike many poems, "The Raven" is one that is best read aloud. Beautifully written and easy to follow, the poem tells a complete story, and the rhythmic meter--trochaic octameter, that includes pairs of stressed and unstressed syllables--that repeats in each stanza has become one of the most familiar in all poetry. The consistent rhyme scheme (ABCBBB), which includes several examples of internal rhyme, helps to unify the work, as does the Raven's unforgettable single response to the man's queries: "Nevermore." Like Poe's poems, "Annabel Lee" and "The Bells," "The Raven" will continue to earn deserved praise for centuries to come.