Text: Charles W. Kent (notes) Robert A. Stewart (variants) (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Notes to The Raven,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. VII: Poems (1902), pp. 208-212


[page 208, continued:]


Page 94.


Text, 1845, with Lorimer Graham corrections.

Variations of the American Whig Review from the text.

I. 6 this (this,) II. 3 sought (tried) 6 here (n. i.) III. I , sad, (o. c.) 6 is (is,) IV. 5 door; — 6 there (there,) V. 2 mortal (mortals) 3 stillness (darkness) 4. Lenore? 6 this (this,) VI. 1 Back (Then) 2. again I heard (I heard again) 2 somewhat (something) 6 wind (wind,) VII. Raven (s. 1.; so throughout) 2 yore. (;) 3 a minute (an instant) VIII. 4 shore — (, —) IX. 3 living human (sublunary) X. 2 the [Griswold, that] 4. muttered (muttered,) 6 Then ... said (Quoth the raven) XI. 1 Startled (Wondering) 4-6 till ... nevermore

(— so, when Hope he would adjure

Stern Despair returned, instead of the sweet Hope he dared adjure,

That sad answer, “Nevermore!”)

XII. I fancy (sad soul) 2 bust (bust,) XIII. 4-5 lamplight (o. h.) XIV. 2 Seraphim whose (Angels whose faint) [page 209:] 4. nepenthe (cap.) 6 Raven, (raven) XV. 1 devil! (! —) 5 Quaff, oh (Let me) 6 Raven, (raven) XVI. 1 evil! — (—) 6 Raven, (raven) XVII. 6 Raven, (raven) XVIII. still (11. i.) 3 demon’s (demon).

Variations of the Southern Literary Messenger from the text.

I. 2 lore — (,) 6 this (this,) II. 1 December; (,) 2 ghosts (ghost) 6 here (n. i.) III. 1 , sad, (o. c.) 6 is (is,) IV. 5 door — (,) 6 there (there,) V. 3 stillness (darkness) 6 this (this,) VI. 1 Back (Then) 2. Again I heard (I heard again) 6 wind (wind,) VII. 2 Raven (s. l. and so throughout) 2 yore. 3 a minute (an instant) X. 2 mid (, said) 6 “Of ... more’” (Of “Nevermore” — of “Nevermore.”) XI. 1 fancy (sad soul) 1. bust (bust,) 3 Then, (o. c.) XII. 4. that (, that) XIII. a Seraphim (angels,) 4. nepenthe (cap.) 4. Lenore; 6 Raven (raven,) [so XIV. etc.] XIV. evil! (! —) 3 yet (, yet) XVI. evil! — XVII. 1 still (n. i.) 3 demon’s (demon) 5 that (, that).

Variations of the Broadway Journal from the text.

I. 2 lore — (,) 6 this — (this,) II. 1 December; (,) 2 ghosts (ghost) 3 sought (vied) 6 here (n. i.) III. I , sad, (o. c.) 6 is (is,) IV. 5 door ; — (,) 6 there (there,) V. 2 mortal (mortals) 3 stillness (darkness) 6 this (this,) VI. 1 Back (Then) 2. again I heard (I heard again) 2 somewhat (some thing) 6 wind (wind,) VII. 6 Raven (s. l. and so throughout) 2 yore. 3 a minute (an instant) VIII. 6 Raven, (raven) XI. 2 , said (o. c.) 2 store, (o. c.) 6 of “Nevermore” — of “Nevermore.” XII. 1 fancy (sad soul) XIII. 4, — 5 lamp-light (o. h.) XIV. 1. seraphim whose (angels whose faint) 4. Lenore; (!) XV. 1 evil — (!) XVI. 1 evil! (—) 1. devil! — XVIII. still (n. i.) 3 demon’s (demon).

In the quotations from the Raven in Poe’s “Philosophy of Composition,” one verbal variation is noted; VII. 3 minute (moment). [page 210:]


To the New York Time: Saturday Review:

“In answer to the criticism on this line, that the lamp would not throw the shadow of the bird on the floor, Poe says : ‘ My conception was that of the bracket candelabrum affixed against the wall, high up above the door and bust, as is often seen in the English palaces, and even in some of the better houses of New York.’” (June 10, 1901.)


American Whig Review, February, 1845: —

“The following lines from a correspondent — besides the deep quaint strain of the sentiment, and the curious introduction of some ludicrous touches amidst the serious and impressive, as was doubtless intended by the author — appear to us one of the most felicitous specimens of unique rhyming which has for some time met our eye. The resources of English rhythm for varieties Of melody, measure, and sound, producing corresponding diversities of effect, have been thoroughly studied, much more perceived, by very few poets in the language. While the classic tongues, especially the Greek, possess, by power of accent, several advantages for versification over our own, chiefly through greater abundance of spondaic feet, we have other and very great advantages of sound by the modern usage of rhyme. Alliteration is nearly the only effect of that kind which the ancients had in common with us. It will be seen that much of the melody of ‘ The Raven” arises from alliteration, and the studious use of similar sounds in unusual places. In regard to its measure, it may be noted that, if all the verses were like the second, they might properly be placed merely in short lines, producing a not uncommon form; but the presence in all the others of one line — mostly the second in the verse — which flows continuously, with only an [page 211:] aspirate pause in the middle, like that before the short line in the Sapphic Adonic, while the fifth has at the middle pause no similarity of sound with any part beside, gives the versification an entirely different effect. We could wish the capacities of our noble language, in prosody, were better understood.” — ED. AMERICAN WHIG REVIEW.



1. It was drafted in the summer of 1842, at the Barhyte Trout-Ponds, Saratoga Springs, New York. This theory rests upon Dr. Griffis’ report of what he recollected his wife said. See Home Journal, Nov. 5th, 1884.

2. It was written in the winter of 1843-44, when Poe was in want.

This theory rests upon the unsustained testimony of Mr. Rosenbach.

3. It was dashed off one night while Poe was living at Fordham (1844-45). See Fairfield, Scribner’s Magazine for October, 1875. This is manifestly impossible: Poe did not move to Fordham until the spring of 1846.

4. According to Col. DuSolle it was written piecemeal, stanza by stanza, and criticised by his literary contemporaries, who assembled at Sandy Webb’s in Ann Street.

5. It was written in the office of John R. Thompson while Thompson was editor of the Southern Literary Messenger (between 1847-1849). This theory, which is obviously incorrect, is circumstantially described in a personal letter to Charles W. Kent from Mr. James K. Galt, the great-nephew of John Allan, the foster-father of Poe.

6. For Poe’s own theory see his “Philosophy of Composition,” and the “Outis” controversy. [page 212:]


It is a melancholy, melodramatic, reflective lyric of love and sorrow. Its metrical form is at first glance trochaic octameter, but in reality it seems to be a four-time tetrameter verse. There are eighteen stanzas of five lines each, with a refrain. The rime order is abcbb, dbebb, fbgbb, etc. There is also internal rime in the 1st and 3rd lines. The refrain rimes with the last line of the stanza. There is much peculiar use of alliteration, the trills r and l, and the so-called “long” a and o.

Ingram’s and Stedman’s monographs on “The Raven” contain interesting historical and metrical discussions, translations, imitations, parodies, etc. The attempt by Col. J. A. Joyce to trace “The Raven” to an Italian original published in the Milan Art Journal for 1809 and called “The Parrot” — by one Leo Penzoni — has failed for lack of a reproduction of the Italian version and other authenticating data.





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