“The Raven” is perhaps the single most well know poem in American literature. Even people who did not study it in high school or read it all the way through know of it’s eternal promise of “nevermore.” Written by Edgar Allan Poe, the poem was first published in 1845; to this day it captivates everyone who reads it or, even better, has it read to them by a storyteller with a flair for the dramatic.

 

I am not a student of American literature, or any literature for that matter, so I never sat down and dissected the poem, line by line to unravel its magic. Until now.

 

I had been hired to write an article about “The Raven,” explaining how and why it has become an iconic classic. It had been a long time since I sat down and actually read the poem, but when I did, I choose to do so aloud, as God and Poe intended.

 

I have to admit, I stumbled a few times over the more archaic words (‘surcease’ and ‘mien’ come to mind) utilized in the poem and had to look up a few to see what they meant (lattice, Plutonian, and nepenthe), something I did not do when I first read the poem back in high school. It was then an idea struck me, maybe I could do a kindness for this generation of high school sophomores, and “translate,” if you will, the poem with more modern language. No maybe about it, I did.

 

Let me be frank, what follows is not perfect, heck, it is not even well done or what I would call “good.” To be certain your English teacher will hate it, lampoon my efforts, and make you feel bad for reading it and referencing it—particularly if you do so incorrectly. They still teach how to cite a source in school, don’t they?

All the same, I tried to keep with the pentameter and complete a line by line synopsis.

 

So it is with deepest, heartfelt, and bent knee apologies to Edgar Allan Poe that I give you “A Modern Translation of ‘The Raven.’

 

 

 

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,

 

 

On a night so dark and stormy, I was thinking while forlorn-ey
(OR – “Around midnight, I was up thinking while tired”)

 

 

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,

 

 

With some weird old books I got at a second-hand store,
(OR “with a lot of books on the occult”)

 

 

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

 

 

Almost asleep or already sleeping, I heard some feeble sounding knocking
(OR “I had almost drifted off to sleep when there was a knocking at the door”

 

 

As if some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

 

 

Like someone was gently knocking, knocking upon my front door. (OR “like someone was gently knocking on my office door)
 

`’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door –

 

 

“Aw, it’s just some guy” I murmured, “knocking at my front door-

(OR ” ‘must be a visitor,’ I said to myself ‘knocking at the door'”

 

Only this, and nothing more.’

 

 

“That all it is, nothing more.”

(OR “just that, not reading anything into it”)

 

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,

 

 

Let me see if I remember, what happened back this past December

(OR “I remember quite clearly this happened back in December”

 

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

 

 

The fire it was quickly ending making creepy shadows on the floor

(OR “and the fireplace with its dying embers where making creepy shadows on the floor”

 

Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow

 

 

Why cannot it be tomorrow, where worries yet I had to borrow

(OR “I wished it daylight, and in vain i was looking to get…”)

 

From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –

 

 

I could read and forget my sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenor-

(OR “a mental break from being sad about the Lenore being dead)

 

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore –

 

 

A sweet and beautiful woman that the angles named Lenore-

(OR “she was special and beautiful and the angels named her Lenore”)

 

Nameless here for evermore.

 

 

And I’m not saying her name again. Never, no more.

(OR “and I shall not say her name again’)

 

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

 

 

The silky, sad purple curtains made a quiet sound, like hurtin’

(OR “the purple silk curtains were moving, making a sound”)

 

Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

 

 

Scared me- filled me with fear like I never felt before;

(OR “scaring me like I had never been scared before”)

 

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating

 

 

And now, completely and totally wigged out, I stood repeating

(OR “so to calm myself and slow the rapid beating of my heart I kept saying to myself…”

 

`’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –

 

 

“It’s just somebody wanting to come in through my front door-

(OR “It just a visitor knocking on the door to come in…”)

 

Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; –

 

 

Some drunken buddy of mine trying to open up the door-

(OR “some visitor who at midnight wants to come into my house”)

 

This it is, and nothing more,’
 

 

 

That’s all it is, and nothing more.”)
 (OR “that is all it is, nothing to be afraid of”)

 

 

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

 

 

(I manned up and growing stronger, and not thinking any longer

(OR “Immediately, I became braver and without hesitation…”)

 

`Sir,’ said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;

 

 

“Yo, I said, “or whatever, really, I’m so sorry to my core

(OR “said ‘sir or madam, sorry it took so long to answer the door…”)

 

But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,

 

 

But in truth I was napping when you started with the rapping”

(OR “but i was about to fall asleep–causes its almost midnight–but i hear your gentle knock and woke up…”)

 

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

 

 

And so quiet was your rapping, rapping upon my front door

(OR “it was so quiet, your knock, on my door…”)

 

That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I opened wide the door; –

 

 

I barely heard you”- and here I opened up the door-

(OR “that i almost did not hear it” and then opened the door to see…”)

 

Darkness there, and nothing more.

 

 

And saw abso-freaking-lutely nothing. That’s the score!

(OR “Absolutely nothing and no one.”)

 

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

 

 

I looked into the nighttime peering, long time I stood there, thinking fearing,

(OR “For a long time I looked into the darkness of the night  letting my imagination get to me”

 

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before

 

 

Trying to remember if I was tripping today or was that day before

(OR “and letting my imagination scare me like no one else has ever been scared”)

 

But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,

 

 

The silence it remained unbroken, and I’m totally not joking

(OR “And for all my looking and thinking saw nothing and heard nothing…”)

 

And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!’

 

 

But there was a word heard spoken, whispered was the word, “Lenore!”

(OR “Until a voice whispered Lenore.”)

 

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!’

 

 

It was me who whispered it, and it echoed back to me once more, “Lenore!”

(OR “It was me who whispered her name, and someone said it back to me, her name, Lenore.”)

 

Merely this and nothing more.

 

 

And that was basically it, nothing more.

(OR “And then said nothing else.”)

 

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

 

 

Back into my house I turned, my soul afire, up it burned

(OR “So I turned and went back inside, creeped out and frightened”

 

Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.

 

 

Again that knocking started up this time louder than before.

(OR “and pretty soon the knocking on my door thing started up again.”

 

`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;

 

 

“Oh crap,” I said “it’s got to be something at the window I’ll see;

(OR “I tried to convince myself it was something knocking on my window lattice”)

 

Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –

 

 

Let’s me see then, at that place, and look into it some more

(OR “I better have a look to be sure”)

 

Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –

 

 

If I can stop having a heart attack long enough to figure it, or more

(OR “As soon as I calm down that it, then I will go and take a peak.)

 

‘Tis the wind and nothing more!’

 

 

It bet it’s the wind and nothing more.

(OR “It has to be the wind”)

 

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

 

 

I opened up the window shutter and like a wildcat off its nutter

(OR “I opened up the shutters with a great deal of drama”)

 

In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.

 

 

In walked a big old raven, like in the movies we watch galore

(OR “and in walked a raven …”)

 

Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;

 

 

Without even nodding to me, not even stirring or staying did he

(OR “…like he owned the place.”

 

But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door –

 

 

But looking like who the heck he is, went and sat over the door

(OR “and like he was royalty sat himself in a niche over my front door”)

 

Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door –

 

 

Sat on a statue of Pallas over the front door

(OR “on a bust of a guy named Pallas I keep there.”)

 

Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

 

 

Sat and sat, not a damn thing more.

(OR “It just sat there.”)

 

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

 

 

Then the raven, black and charming, had my sad self set to smiling,

(OR “Then this weird black bird changed my mood from sad to happy…”)

 

By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,

 

 

‘Cause the look upon it its own face was so serious and all,

(OR “because it looked so serious”)

 

`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,’ I said, `art sure no craven.

 

 

“You may be all that raven” I said, “and a bag of chips worth craving.

(OR “so i said to it ‘you may look the part, but you are not a thing of evil…”)

 

Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore –

 

 

You big old grim and nasty raven out flying in from the night out by the shore

(OR “although you are creepy and old and walked on into my house from the nighttime beach I live near…”)

 

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!’

 

 

What’s your handle? How’s it hangings down here at the shore?”

(OR “what is your name?”_

 

Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

 

 

Quoting the raven “Nevermore.”

“It said ‘Nevermore'”)

 

Much I marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,

 

 

I thought it neat that the mangy bird could talk so good and plainly,

(OR “I was amazed that the raven could speak so well…”)

 

Though its answer little meaning – little relevancy bore;

 

 

Though its answer was stupid and a little bit of a bore

(OR “but what it was was not an intelligent answer to the question I had asked;”)

 

For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being

 

 

Cause we must be agreeing that not a living human being

(OR “cause you have to admit no person alive now…”)

 

Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door –

 

 

Ever had a bird fly into their house and sit on a statue over a door-

(OR “has ever had such a crazy thing as this happen to them.”)

 

Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,

 

 

Bird or bogie sitting up on a statue placed over a god dammed door,

(OR “At midnight a raven come into their house and sit on a statue situated over their front door..”)

 

With such name as `Nevermore.

 

 

A bird absurdly named “Nevermore.”

(OR “and that the raven’s name would be Nevermore.”)

 

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,

 

 

But the bird, all up there lonely, said that simple one word only

(OR “and while I was think this, the raven just sat there and said…”)

 

That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.

 

 

That one word, as if it was the answer to everything and more

(OR “the same word it said before…”

 

Nothing further then he uttered – not a feather then he fluttered –

 

 

Nothing else then did it utter, or move-a bit and then it fluttered

(OR “and that was all it said. It did not even move after that.”)

 

Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before –

 

 

Then I hardly more than mumbled “I’ve had birds fly in my house before-

(OR “So I said to the raven “Other birds have been here before…”)

 

On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.’

 

 

He’ll leave in the morning, and I’ll be sad, just like before.”

(OR “and come the morning, he’ll leave, just like Hope has left me…”)

 

Then the bird said, `Nevermore.’

 

 

And then the bird said “Nevermore.”

(OR “and the raven said ‘Nevermore.'”)

 

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

 

 

Startled by its sudden spoken, making up the silence broken

(OR “It speaking startled me as it broke the silence”)

 

`Doubtless,’ said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,

 

 

“Common,” I said, “That’s probably the only word it can say,

(OR “It can only say the one word, in all likelihood.”)

 

Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster

 

 

Caught by some old crazy fella’ living out of someone’s cellar

(OR “taught to say it by its owner who was depressed…”)

 

Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore –

 

 

Who spoke of doom and of disaster till the bird learned it- night and day

(OR “saying that word over and over again to himself till the bird learned to say it as well”)

 

Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore

 

 

And the old crazy was sad every single moment of the day

(OR “and the owner’s misery now passed on to the raven who can say”)

 

Of “Never-nevermore.”

 

 

Saying only “Never-nevermore.”

(OR “only Nevermore.”)

 

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,

 

 

But the raven, still neat and charming, got me happy, up to smiling

(OR “Crazy or no, it still made me smile to look at the raven…”)

 

Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;

 

 

Right away I moved a comfy chair over by the bird, bust and door

(OR “so I pulled up a chair and sat in front of it”)

 

Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking

 

 

Sat down and I got to thinking, in my mind I started linking

(OR “and as I sunk down into the cushion started thinking”)

 

Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore –

 

 

Plots of paranoia, thinking about that old raven by the door-

(OR “wild thought about this raven”)

 

What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore

 

 

That stern, unsightly, grisly, , and menacing bird by the door

(OR “and all the symbolism associated to it and its kind over the centuries”)

 

Meant in croaking `Nevermore.’

 

 

What it mean by “Nevermore.”

(OR “and what all that meant when combined with the word  Nevermore.”)

 

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

 

 

Here I sat and started guessing, but no luck, this is sucking

(OR “I sat there wondering to myself as the bird sat in silence”)

 

To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;

 

 

The birds eyes burned into my chest and struck me to the very core

(OR “Its eyes burning into me”)

 

This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining

 

 

I thought lots ’bout crazy of things, my emo head finally resting

(OR “and I added its burning eye stare into my equation as I leaned back into the chair”)

 

On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,

 

 

On the chair’s cooshy lining where the lamp light fell on me the more

(OR “on the cushion that the lamp light made a glow on)

 

But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er

 

 

But the chair with cooshy lining and the lamp light  shining more

 

 

She shall press, ah, nevermore!

 

 

She won’t walk by, not nevermore!

 

 

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer

 

 

Then the air in the room grew denser, and I smelled an unseen incenser

 

 

Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.

 

 

The kind like they use in churches swinging on a chain galore.

 

 

`Wretch,’ I cried, `thy God hath lent thee – by these angels he has sent thee

 

 

“Wretch,” I cried, “God sent you to me, sent here by angels to me

 

 

Respite – respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!

 

 

Gimmie a break, and drugs to remove my memories Lenore!

 

 

Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!’

 

 

Drink, I need an anti-depressant to forget the dead Lenore!”

 

 

Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

 

 

And to quote the raven “Nevermore.”

 

 

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! –

 

 

“Smartass!” I said “thing of evil! Smartass be a bird or devil!-

 

 

Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,

 

 

Sent by Satan or sent by a storm that pushed you here ashore

 

 

Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted –

 

 

Solitary, not yet discouraged, to this desert land enchanted

 

 

On this home by horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore –

 

 

To my home they say is haunted- tell me the truth, I beg of you-

 

 

Is there – is there balm in Gilead? – tell me – tell me, I implore!’

 

 

Is there – is there a healing compound – tell me, I beg of you!”

 

 

Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

 

 

Quoting the raven “Nevermore.”

 

 

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil!

 

 

“Smartass!” I said “thing of evil! Smartass be a bird or devil!-

 

 

By that Heaven that bends above us – by that God we both adore –

 

 

By Heaven that is above us – by the God we both adore

 

 

Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,

 

 

Tell sad sack me if you’re able, if in some far off distant Eden

 

 

It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore –

 

 

It took in a beautiful woman whom the angles named Lenore –

 

 

Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?’

 

 

A very beautiful woman, whom the angels named Lenore?”

 

 

Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

 

 

Quoting the raven here “Nevermore.”

 

 

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!’ I shrieked upstarting –

 

 

“Say that word again and you’re out of here,” I screamed standing

 

 

`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!

 

 

Get back into the storm that sent you to this god-forsaken shore!

 

 

Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!

 

 

And don’t leave even so much as one of your dirt black feathers here either!

 

 

Leave my loneliness unbroken! – quit the bust above my door!

 

 

Leave me alone, I have spoken! – Get off my statue over the door!

 

 

Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!’

 

 

Looking at you breaks my heart, move away and out my door!”

 

 

Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

 

 

Quoting the raven here “Nevermore.”

 

 

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

 

 

The raven never moved, just sat there, is still sitting

 

 

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

 

 

On the whitish statue of Pallas just above my old front door

 

 

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

 

 

And his eyes look like a scheming evil monster or a demon

 

 

And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

 

 

And the lamp over him makes seemingly throws his shadow ‘cross the floor

 

 

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

 

 

And my soul like that shadow that lies bloating on the floor

 

 

Shall be lifted – nevermore!

 

 

Shall be listed – nevermore!

 


Comments

52 Comments so far

  1. nilla riggs on November 1, 2017 5:08 am

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  2. nilla riggs on November 1, 2017 5:09 am

    baby im sorry i dumped you i found that your email was on this site babe imsorry about everything can we get back together and try agian

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