The Raven "Whom Unmerciful Disaster Followed Fast And Followed Faster"

Edgar Allan Poe

"Whom Unmerciful Disaster Followed Fast And Followed Faster"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In this intricately structured, highly musical, and supremely melancholy poem, Poe reveals the haunted mind of a man who is tormented by the death of his beloved, "the lost Lenore." A mysterious raven appears at his window at midnight. The raven can speak only one word–"Nevermore." In the griefcrazed man's mind, the bird is a visitor from "the Night's Plutonian shore," a messenger who can bring him some news of Lenore, some hope of his seeing her again in another world. Unfortunately, the raven answers all of the man's frantically hopeful questions with that grimly final word, "Nevermore." When the bird first enters the room, the man marvels to hear it uttering such a strange word so clearly. He tries to explain the bird's one-word vocabulary in human terms, not yet daring to recognize the raven's supernatural nature. Unaware that the bird will be his eternal tormentor, the "neverflitting" reminder of his unending loneliness, the man tries to rationalize the ominous word, "Nevermore":

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.'"