What does stanza 11 mean from "The Raven"?Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken, "Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store Caught...

What does stanza 11 mean from "The Raven"?

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly
spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock
and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom
unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one
burden bore
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden
bore
Of 'Never-nevermore.'"

What is it really trying to say?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In Stanza 8 of "The Raven" the narrator is somewhat bemused by the ebony bird that flies in his window and perches in  classical fashion upon the bust in his "chamber."  At this point the narrator marvels that this bird speaks so plainly.  But, by Stanza 10 the narrator has become a little uneasy about the bird that continues to repeat one word.  He seeks to explain the bird's repeated utterance of this single word as, perhaps, it overheard its master speak the word after repeated disasters: "Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore."  In other words, every time the man hoped for happiness, misfortune struck, and struck so many times that the man despaired and told himself he would never be happy again--"nevermore." 

At the same time that the narrator reflects on this possibility, he himself begins to be affected by the ominousness of the bird repeating the word: Of 'Never--nevermore.'"  His stuttering of the word, "never--nevermore," suggests the pondering of the word in relation to the death of his Lenore whose name he has whispered when he opens the window.  Thus, the narrator like the possible former owner of the raven has a amelancholy burden to bear as well, and at this point he feels unconsciously the same foreboding presence of an embodiment of loneliness and separation, the raven.. 

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