My absolute favourite poem is The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. I only liked it because The Simpsons made a Hallowe’en episode back in my younger days. Over time, I began to discover more of his writings. Many of these have found their way into contemporary films, novels and TV adaptions (like several times on The Simpsons).

When I was planning our Virginia Beach trip this March Break, I discovered that there is an Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia.

Located in the oldest remaining house in the capital of Virginia, this museum honours one of its most famous residents. Poe had an interesting life. Touring the museum and learning about him, I wondered if I would have liked to have him as a friend. His life was not easy. Being abandoned and eventually adopted into a family that had little affection for him, he would become a West Point dropout. Forever improvised, he did seem to have a way with the women, even becoming engaged early in life only to have his fiance call it off because Edgar failed to remain in contact with her. When he did find someone else, she would die relatively young. His life, already dark by the events, became darker.

The museum uses several buildings to go through Poe’s life. There are only so many artifacts that are directly attributed to Edgar. One is that he was not well-acclaimed in his time. It is only now that he is considered the first American horror novelist. Much of what is to be learned at the museum comes from information panels on the walls and the audio tour that can be listened to on anyone’s cellphone. Free wi-fi is provided. The museum would show an artifact, give a story, and suggest that the event might have inspired a story he would write about immediately afterward.

We toured from building to building, floor to floor, reading what was offered, and I began to think more about having this man as a friend, had I lived in that period. The more I learned, the more I felt that it would be nice to know who he was but to keep him farther out of my life. He had a fascination with death, in particular, women dying young from tuberculosis. Apparently, death from this wasting disease leaves its victims pale – something some people, including Poe, thought was beautiful. But at the same time, we benefit from modern medicine, vaccines and antibiotics that were not available back then, so death was always creeping around the corner. Poe did like to focus on this ultimate fate.

Edgar Allan Poe would die in a way that he would probably write about had he had his wits about him during his lingering death. The cause of his demise has been one of speculation even to this day. I left the museum wanting to read more of his works, being surprised by how many of his works I have already been exposed to and saddened that he did not receive the fame and recognition in his life that he has now.

  • The Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, is very popular. There was a steady flow of people coming to see this museum.
  • The entry fee is reasonable.
  • The best value from this museum, and all museums, is to stop, read, and listen.  
  • This is one stop on our Virginia Beach Trip. The link includes a map and itinerary.
  • Edgar Allan Poe Museum is on my Featured Map. Check it out for all the places we have visited. 

The Raven By Edgar Allen Poe

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

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

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

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

“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—

            Only this and nothing more.”

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

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

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

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

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—

            Nameless here for evermore.

   And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

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

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

   “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—

Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—

            This it is and nothing more.”

   Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;

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

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

That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—

            Darkness there and nothing more.

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

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;

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

   And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—

            Merely this and nothing more.

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

Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.

   “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;

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

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

            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

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

In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;

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

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

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

            Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

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

“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,

Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—

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

            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

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

Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;

   For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being

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

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

            With such name as “Nevermore.”

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

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

   Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—

   Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—

On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”

            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

   Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store

   Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster

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

Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore

            Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

   But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,

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

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

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

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

            Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

   This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

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

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

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

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

            She shall press, ah, nevermore!

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

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

   “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee

   Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;

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

            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

   “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—

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

   Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—

   On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—

Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”

            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

   “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!

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

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

   It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—

Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”

            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

   “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—

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

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

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

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

            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

   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’s 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!

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