Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “The Raven” (excerpt), manuscript for autograph, late 1845 or 1846



And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting — still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door,

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor,

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted — nevermore.   

Edgar A Poe



This manuscript copy of lines 103-108 (the final stanza) of “The Raven,” is written sideways on a piece of note paper embossed “VEP,” for “Virginia Eliza Poe.” The manuscript is now part of the collection of the University of Texas. Mabbott assigns the fragment a date of  “late 1845” (Poems, 1:363), but without explanation. In his catalog of Poe manuscripts at the University of Texas (p. 9), J. Moldenhauer suggests a date of 1846, based a letter of June 16, 1846 on similar paper stock, and  also with embossed initials. Further supporting this later dating is the fact that the first time Poe is known to have capitalized “Raven” and replaced the ending exclamation point with a period is in his essay “The Philosophy of Compostion,” published in Graham's Magazine for April 1846. (The word “still” is not italicized in that essay, but is so marked in Poe's own copy of The Raven and Other Poems, though not in the manuscript he sent to S. A. Whittaker in September 1848. This might argue for a later date, but it should be noted that Poe is using italics in the selected verses for a different purpose in his essay, and it seems unlikely that he would be using paper with Virginia's monogram after her death in February 1847.) On the other hand, the 1845 version of this stanza in The Raven and Other Poems changes “seeming of a demon that is dreaming” to “seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,” which could justify the earlier date.

Sadly, the manuscript has no clear provenance. It was first noted in the collection of Stephen H. Wakeman, sold at auction April 28-29, 1924 (see the catalog of his library, item 949). At that time, it was noted as being tipped into a copy of The Raven and Other Poems in the original paper covers. It was later in the collection of Frank J. Hogan, appearing as item 575 in the sale of his library (January 24, 1945). It was purchased by William H. Koester, and went to the University of Texas when his collection was acquired in 1966, following Koester's death.


[S:1 - MS, 1845 (photocopy)] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - The Raven [excerpt]