In "The Raven," what is the significance of the word "nevermore"?

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trophyhunter1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Raven, published in 1845, by Edgar Allan Poe tells a story of a talking raven who visits a man who is distraught over losing his love, Lenore. Symbolically, ravens are birds of ill-omen. By consistantly saying, "Nevermore" the raven makes the man even more upset. Each question he asks the Raven, is answered by "Nevermore" and although the man knows what the answer will be, each question becomes more depressing. His demeanor at the beginning of the poem was weak and weary, but, by the end of the poem, he descends into madness. The bird speaks not out of wisdom, but it seems to be the only word it knows. Although he knows no matter what he asks the bird, its answer will be Nevermore, he continues to ask it questions. Stanza by stanza, the tension in the poem builds, then it is torn down again, proving there is no moral in the raven's "Nevermore".