What connotations does line two of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" carry?

Expert Answers
favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When the poem begins, the narrator is awake and poring "Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore" (line 2). It is midnight and he is, as he tells us, attempting to distract himself from his sorrow over his "lost Lenore" with his books (10). Connotatively, the word "quaint" is very positive: it typically refers to something that is a bit old fashioned but nonetheless appealing. Likewise, "curious" connotes positive feelings as well as something that is, perhaps, a bit odd and unexpected, but interesting and novel too. "Forgotten" refers to something for which one has lost the remembrance of, something we might typically think of as negative; however, the narrator seems pleased to have rediscovered these forgotten texts, since he calls them "quaint" and "curious" (as opposed to, for example, "old fashioned" and "strange"). So the fact that he'd forgotten the texts means that he now gets to rediscover them -- and this process of rediscovery seems pleasing to him.  Finally, the word "lore" identifies the book as some kind of traditional, perhaps mythic or legendary, text. In all, the words in this line have fairly positive connotations, especially in light of alternate words Poe could have chosen that mean the same thing but feel very differently.