What Is The Mood Of The Raven – Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American poet. He wrote several short stories (e.g. The Fall of the House of Usher), worked as an editor and critic and became famous for his macabre stories and poems. On 29 January 1845, his poem “The Raven” was published in Atenspejlet. It made Poe famous and is known as his greatest achievement in poetry.
In April 1846, “The Raven” was discussed in Poe’s essay “The Philosophy of Composition”, which appeared in Graham’s Magazine and started a great discussion among the “Society of Writer”. Because of his logical explanation of every detail in fiction, some suggested that the essay was intended as a satire or a hoax because no one, not even Poe himself, would create a poem in this way.
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Poe always carefully created the metrical patterns. He compared the technique of verse to music. According to him, the melody is to a song what the effect is to a poem.
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In “The Philosophy of Composition,” which stands out for Poe’s ambition for elaboration, he suggested that writing a poem was just an orderly process, like solving a mathematical problem. Furthermore, his essay states that a work must be written only after the writer has decided how it will end and, more importantly, what emotional response, Poe calls it “the effect ” which is desired to be achieved. To emphasize his theory, Poe took his poem “The Raven” and sets out in detail how, for example, the theme, setting, characters and plot must be created to make a poem perfect
In the next pages we will look at Poe’s “The Raven”, his essay “The philosophy of Composition” and go into detail with questions such as: What is his essay about and what was the author’s intention when writing an essay on the only way to create a work of fiction? Did Poe compose his “Raven” just like this, or is there evidence that Poe could not handle his own ideas?
“The Philosophy of Composition” was written by Edgar Allan Poe in April 1846. It was first published in Graham’s Magazine, Philadelphia.
According to Poe, his reason for writing this essay was the fact that there was “a radical error […] in the usual way of constructing a story”
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. Poe himself thought “how interesting a magazine paper could be written by an author who would detail step by step the process by which each of his compositions eventually reached completion.”
Because no article like this has been written and no one can do it, Poe decides to write it himself.
He analyzes how effect, length, state, mood and refrain can come together to form the supreme poem. In discussing his poem “The Raven,” published in 1845, Poe defines how to write the perfect work, including all the necessary components mentioned above.
Furthermore, Poe shows that “The Raven” was not an “accident” or an “intuition,” but certainly a work written “with the exact and rigid result of a mathematical problem.”
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The effect of a poem is the first thing to be determined. Always “keeping originality” in his mind, Poe seeks that impression to which “heart, intellect, or soul is open.”
When he figures something out, he proceeds to choose whether to write it “by incident or tone” and how to combine those two things.
The length of a work is very important to Poe. On the one hand, a work can be too long to be good, and on the other hand, it can be too short. In conclusion, Poe says that a good literary work must be “read at once,” otherwise the impression of the work will be spoiled.
The second thought that Poe brings up in this section is the question of whether there is any merit to a long poem. He immediately denies this, explaining that a long poem is really just “a series of short poetic effects […]”.
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Poe’s second thought is about choosing the right impression without forgetting that universal appreciation is one of his intentions. Naming beauty as “music’s only legitimate province”
Poe goes on to explain that beauty is not supposed to be a characteristic, but rather an effect that can only be noted in a poem.
Truth, the satisfaction of the intellect, and passion are subjects that are better explained in prose than in poetry, because truth is the opposite of beauty, which Poe describes as “the agitation of the soul […]”.
The question of tone is answered by Poe within two sentences, for it is certain that there can be no “exposure” of a tone higher than sadness. Combined with beauty, melancholy is the only legitimate note in a poem.
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Defining the chorus as the best vehicle to realize his idea, he now concludes that it is “in a primitive state”.
Now Poe tries a variation of the chorus to increase its effect. He thinks of the usual repetition along with the simple variation of the thought, but he clings to the “monotonous sound”
From the chorus. Finally, he would achieve a new effect through different uses of the same chorus.
Because of the varied use of the chorus, it must be short. A long chorus would have been too complex and would have lost the intended effect. It soon comes to mind that there is only one word that rhymes in Poe’s mind, and he immediately thinks about the “character” that this word must contain.
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Because his poem is made of verses like almost all poems, the chorus must form the end of each verse. This ending must be “sonorous and open to prolonged stress”. Designating the long o as the “most sonorous vowel”
For Poe was “Nevermore,” which Poe immediately chose as the right one for his supreme poem.
Now Poe tries to find a reason to repeat the word “Nevermore”. Because of the simplicity of the word, Poe does not want to choose a human being who repeats this word. He would rather chase an animal. Without the typical talking bird, a parrot, Poe draws the Raven. The great advantage of this bird is that it “can talk”
Poe begins to combine his ideas above and asks for the most melancholy subject. In the end, he decides that perhaps “death” is the only “obvious solution”, and to make it most poetic, death must be united with “beauty”. So it seems that “the death of a beautiful woman […] is undoubtedly the most poetic subject in the world.”
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Combing all his thoughts mentioned above, Poe now creates the plot of his supreme poem: the story of two lovers, one of whom is a deceased mistress who is believed to be seen by her lover while talking to a raven, who can only repeat the same melancholy word “Nevermore”.
It says something about the rhythm or meter of “The Raven” and makes it clear that there is originality.
The only originality according to Poe is the way he uses alliteration and rhyme, but he does not explain anything about this in detail.
The last point that Poe clearly defines is the question of where the lover and the raven must meet.
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At first Poe decides that the only natural place would be a forest, but in this case Poe cannot find a descriptive reason for the meeting between love and a raven. Moreover, a huge forest would rather result in losing sight of the original subject.
A small setting has the effect of a picture frame and is therefore the best alternative and the reason why Poe chooses a small chamber.
In the last page and a half, Poe finds arguments for many things written in his poem:
Because the raven had to “tap” on the front door before without any response from the lover. Furthermore, the beating of the raven’s wings would arouse the reader’s curiosity that the beating is a message from the loving mistress.
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For two reasons the night has been made “stormy”: firstly, because of the raven, for it is often compared to darkness, and secondly, it is a “contrast to the physical silence of the chamber.”
Also, the bust of Pallas is included by Poe to create contrast. In this case, a contrast between “the marble and the feather”
Poe ends his essay with a kind of summary of “The Raven” including many arguments for why these particular subjects belong in the supreme poem. The arguments are often highlighted within the last stanzas of “The Raven”.
The rhythm is monotonous and regular and the meter is trochaic octameter. There are “792 feet, of which 776 are troches, and 16 dactyls […] such as “mange en” and “firy” which can be pronounced as trochees.
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Line 1: Once a sad midnight, while musing, weak and tired, Line 3: As I nodded, almost asleep, a sudden beat came,
Line 4: From my books to over the sadness — sadness for the lost Lenore — Line 5: For the rare and radiant maiden
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