A Year: Day to Day Men: 29th of January, Solar Year 2018

When in Rome… Live as the Romans Do.

January 29, 1845 marked the first publication date of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”.

The Raven is a narrative poem by the American writer Edgar Allan Poe. The poem is often noted for its musicality, stylized language, and supernatural atmosphere. It tells of a talking raven’s’s mysterious visit to a distraught lover, tracing the man’s slow fall into madness. The lover, often identified as being a student, is lamenting the loss of his love, Lenore. Sitting on a bust of Pallas, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, the raven seems to further instigate his distress with its constant repetition of the word “Nevermore”. The poem makes use of a number of folk, mythological, religious, and classical references.

Poe emphasized the occult undertones by setting the poem in December, a month which is traditionally associated with the forces of darkness. The use of the raven—the “devil bird”—also suggests this. This devil image is emphasized by the narrator’s belief that the raven is “from the Night’s Plutonian shore”, or a messenger from the afterlife, referring to Pluto, the Roman god of the underworld. Poe also said that the raven is meant to symbolize “mournful and never-ending remembrance’.

Poe claimed to have written the poem very logically and methodically, intending to create a poem that would appeal to both critical and popular tastes, as he explained in his 1846 follow-up essay, “The philosophy of Composition”. Poe borrowed the complex rhythm and meter of Elizabeth Barrett’s poem “Lady Geraldine’s Courtship”.

“The Raven” was first attributed to Poe in print in the New York Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845. Its publication made Poe widely popular in his lifetime, although it did not bring him much financial success. Critical opinion is divided as to the poem’s literary status, but it nevertheless remains one of the most famous poems ever written.

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