How does the Edgar Allan Poe's poem, "The Raven", relate to his own life?Was there anything specific throughout Poe's life that inspired him to write "The Raven"?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes. Poe had married his first cousin, Virginia Eliza Clem. There was a great deal to suggest dysfunctionality in the marriage: Poe and Eliza were first cousins; at the time of the marriage, he was twenty six and she thirteen. Even so, he was madly in love with her, or as he stated in Annabel Lee, "we loved with a love that was more than love."

Poe had a morbid fear of tuberculosis, a disease which had killed his mother and forced him to be raised by foster parents. For a long time, he avoided serious relationships for fear that it would be spoiled by tuberculosis. He overcame that fear when he married Eliza. In a cruel irony, Eliza contracted tuberculosis, and lingered for several years before dying at age 25. Poe was consumed by her impending death, and the similarity of circumstances between this and his mother's death. A number of scholars have suggested that the untimely death of the women in his life influenced Poe's frequent theme of the death of a beautiful woman. In "The Raven," she is called "Lenore." Other poems, such as Anabel Lee and Ulalume, echo the same theme.

The Raven speaks not so much of death but of the pain of losing a loved one to death with which he was so familiar, a pain that refuses to go away, as he notes in the poem:

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!