"Quoth The Raven, "Nevermore""

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: "The Raven" is Poe's most famous poem. In his essay, "The Philosophy of Composition," the poet outlined what he claimed to be the process by which the work was composed. Of the refrain, he said that he needed a single word containing a long o and the consonant r; hence, the choice of Nevermore was inevitable. Poe felt that the death of a beautiful woman was the saddest of all subjects and therefore the most appropriate for his purpose. The theme of a love that can survive even death is a familiar one in his work, while the atmosphere of intense gloom, even of despair (into which the speaker is plunged by the raven's repetition of the refrain) is also characteristic. The poem ends with the speaker's conviction, implanted by the raven's repeated answer, that he can never hope to rejoin his "lost Lenore." The refrain appears in stanza 8, which reads:

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore–
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."