Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven

  1. Read aloud Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven,” sraight through without stopping. Get a general sense of what the poem is about. When read aloud, one can hear the melody of the poem–its lyrical composistion. The poem reads almost like a song.
  2. Try to develop an understaning of the basic meaning and organization of the poem, and as you reread the poem, study the following:

a. The title–how does the title relate to the poem. Does the title play any significance.

b. The speaker – is the speak inside or outside of the poem. What might be the signifcance of this point of view.

c. In what style is the poem written? Does the poem use elaborate or elevated language, informal language, slang, or jargon? Look up words that might not seem familiar to you. Think about their denotation and connotation.

d. The setting and circumstances – where does the poem take place and under what circumstances?

d. Subject and theme – what is the general topic of the poem? What idea or ideas does the poem explore?

f. Form and development of the poem – investigate how the stanzas and try to determine fthe form and trace the way in which the poem unfolds. Are the stanzas unified in some way by a particular thought or action?

  1. Paraphrase the poem – restate the poem in your own words, this will help you to crystalize your understanding.

Assignment:

Poe says that “in the contemplation of Beauty, we alone find it possible to attain that pleasurable elevation, or excitement, of the soul” and the most powerful subject for such elevation is the death of a beautiful woman. In a one to two page response, discuss how the melancholy tone is established and used in the poem to establish the theme of the poem.

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