In line 36, the speaker expresses his certainty, or perhaps his hope, that whatever has tapped at his chamber door and now taps at his window is simply the wind. He flings open the shutter, and a "stately Raven" steps in, appearing to have come from "the saintly days or yore," as it has the "mien of lord or lady." One might imagine that the speaker would be quite surprised, not only at the appearance of the bird itself but at the strange attitude and behavior of the bird. It has the bearing of a member of the nobility and is not bothered or intimidated by the speaker's presence in the least.
Though the narrator feels sad about his lost lover, he cannot help but be "beguil[ed]" by this bird, and he "smil[es]" at it. It is so "stern" and decorous as to be amusing and comical. He speaks, whimsically, to the bird, asking its name. When the bird responds with "nevermore," the speaker assumes that the bird does not actually understand the question or mean anything by its answer. There is "little meaning" or "relevancy" to the bird's speech, he says. The raven simply sits, unmoving, while the narrator studies it. Eventually, the narrator declares his belief that the raven will "leave [him]" tomorrow, just as other friends and hopes have left him (59).