Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

What would you do if a huge black bird visited you late one night? That's what happens in the poem, ''The Raven,'' by Edgar Allan Poe. Read on to find out why the Raven is there and what happens to the man.

Edgar Allan Poe

Sometimes when you read about the author of a poem or story, it helps you understand more about what they're writing. Edgar Allan Poe was an author who experienced many sad and tragic events in his life. He was orphaned at a young age. He was adopted, but he didn't get along with his adopted father. His wife died from tuberculosis. It's no wonder that many of his stories and poems, like ''The Raven,'' are very grim and dark.

''Once Upon a Midnight Dreary…''

''The Raven'' is a narrative poem, which means it tells a story. A raven is a very smart, large, black bird, much like a crow. In the poem, the Raven only says the word, ''Nevermore.''

The poem begins with the famous line, ''Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary \ Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore--'' This sets the scene for the poem. The narrator is a young man who is reading when he hears ''a tapping'' at his door. The man is sad because he's thinking of his lost love, Lenore, who has died.

Statue of Poe and Raven

He opens the door and sees nothing. He hopes it is the spirit of Lenore, so he whispers, ''Lenore?'' which echoes back to him. He goes back into his room; the rapping begins again. When he opens his window, he sees a Raven. The Raven comes in and sits above the door, ''Perched on a bust of Pallas…'' This is a statue of the Greek goddess, Athena, who is the goddess of wisdom.

''Quoth the Raven, 'Nevermore' ''

The man asks the bird its name and it answers, ''Nevermore.'' He continues to ask the bird questions, but it always answers ''Nevermore.'' Puzzled, the man sits in front of the bird and tries to figure out why it's there. He thinks that God has sent the Raven to try to make him stop thinking about Lenore.

Although he knows the bird only says ''Nevermore,'' he keeps asking it questions. When he asks if he's to be reunited with Lenore in heaven, the bird replies, ''Nevermore.'' The man is angry and tells the bird to leave him.

At the end of the poem, the bird is still sitting on the statue of Pallas. The lamp light creates a shadow of the Raven, which the man can see on the floor. He says that his soul is being held captive by the Raven and ''Shall be lifted -- nevermore!'' which means that he'll never been able to be happy again.

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