At the end of the poem, what does the speaker mean when he says the Raven "still is sitting" above the door?

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Michael Ugulini | (Level 3) Educator

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At the end of the poem “The Raven”, by Edgar Allan Poe, the speaker, in the lines:

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

…means that his disconsolate attitude is to be his lot to the end of his days. The speaker is looking for any kind of hope that maybe he can see his true love once again. He knows this is impossible right now in this physical life. However, he is grasping at some, any kind, of hope because of his deep love for Lenore. He misses her dearly.

Upon being internally tormented because of the death of Lenore, and feeling the desolation brought on by Death, the speaker seeks solace. The thoughts of the reality of his situation (that he will not see Lenore again in this lifetime) is embodied in the mental image of a Raven invading his personal home.

The Raven (of his mind) speaks of “Nevermore”. This raven is saying that nevermore will Lenore return to his home; nevermore will he feel truly, completely happy in this physical life; nevermore will anguish and some level of grief cease. There is a finality to these pronouncements by the raven.

This horrifies the speaker. He is searching for something positive to cling to. To his chagrin, this mental raven is saying, no, you must face facts. This is why the phrase “still is sitting, still is sitting” is put forth. This mental anguish will always be there in the speaker’s life.

It is significant that the words “On the pallid bust of Pallas” are included in “The Raven”.  In Greek Mythology Pallas was one of the ancient gods of war. Therefore, the symbolism of the raven landing and sitting, and still sitting on this bust of Pallas is that there will always be a war within the speaker. This is a war between wanting healing from his anguish, but always fighting a war against his grief, a lifelong battle so it seems from the words of this famous poem.

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stolperia's profile pic

stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The raven above the door in The Raven is a symbol, not an actual bird. The speaker in the poem is so overcome with grief in his mourning for his lost Lenore that he hallucinates the sounds, sights, and conversations described in the poem. The speaker begs for reassurance that he will be reunited with Lenore, but is told that it will not happen. The speaker cries for release from the grieving that is ripping his soul apart, but is told that he will "nevermore" be free of the turmoil and emotion he is experiencing. As the poem draws to its end, the speaker is emotionally exhausted and faced with the dreadful knowledge that the raven "still is sitting" in his chamber - that there will be no escape from his torment and grief over the loss of Lenore.

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