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 the 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 that placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if its 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."
by Edgar Allan Poe
THE DICTIONARY OF PHRASE AND FABLE BY E. COBHAM BREWER
by Dave Ward
Raven is a central figure in West Coast traditions from California to Alaska. Among his many feats, he stole the moon and sun from the Sky Chief and put them in the sky, brought humans the first berries and salmon, and (according to several traditions) called the first humans up from the earth, or discovered the first human babies within a clamshell. Raven was perpetually hounded by the trickster-god, Coyote. Raven is known by many names, including He'mask.as (Bella Bella tradition), Txamsem or We-gyet (Tsimshian), Nankil'slas (Haida), Yehl (Tlingit), and Kwekwaxa'we (Kwakiutl
FROM THE NEW AND ENLARGED EDITION OF 1894
This hypertext edition is copyright ©1996 Data Text Publishing Ltd,
Raven A bird of ill omen. They are said to forebode death and bring infection. The former notion arises from their following an army under the expectation of finding dead bodies to raven on; the latter notion is a mere offshoot of the former, seeing pestilence kills as fast as the sword.
“The boding raven on her cottage sat,
And with hoarse croakings warned us of our fate.”
Gay: Pastorals: The Dirge.
“Like the sad-presaging raven that tolls
The sick man's passport in her hollow beak,
And, in the shadow of the silent night,
Does shake contagion from her sable wing.”
Marlowe: Jew of Malta (1638).
Raven. Jovianus Pontanus relates two skirmishes between ravens and kites near Beneventum, which prognosticated a great battle. Nicetas speaks of a skirmish between crows and ravens as presaging the irruption of the Scythians into Thrace. He also tells us that his friend Mr. Draper, in the flower of his age and robust health, knew he was at the point of death because two ravens flew into his chamber. Cicero was forewarned of his death by the fluttering of ravens, and Macaulay relates the legend that a raven entered the chamber of the great orator the very day of his murder, and pulled the clothes off his bed. Like many other birds, ravens indicate by their cries the approach of foul weather, but “it is ful unleful to beleve that God sheweth His prevy counsayle to crowes, as Isidore sayth.”
Ravens bode famine. When a flock of ravens forsake the woods we may look for famine and mortality, because “ravens bear the characters of Saturn, the author of these calamities, and have a very early perception of the bad disposition of that planet.” (See Athenian Oracle, Supplement, p. 476.)
“As if the great god Jupiter had nothing else to doe but to dryve about jacke-dawes and ravens.”- Carneades.
Ravens were once as white as swans, and not inferior in size; but one day a raven told Apollo that Coronis, a Thessalian nymph whom he passionately loved, was faithless. The god shot the nymph with his dart; but, hating the tell-tale bird-
“He blacked the raven o'er,
And bid him prate in his white plumes no more.”
Addison: Translation of Ovid, bk. ii.
The fatal raven, consecrated to Odin, the Danish war-god, was the emblem on the Danish standard. This raven was said to be possessed of necromantic power. The standard was termed Landeyda (the desolation of the country), and miraculous powers were attributed to it. The fatal raven was the device of Odin, god of war, and was said to have been woven and embroidered in one noontide by the daughters of Regner Lodbrok, son of Sigurd, that dauntless warrior who chanted his death-song (the Krakamal) while being stung to death in a horrible pit filled with deadly serpents. If the Danish arms were destined to defeat, the raven hung his wings; if victory was to attend them, he stood erect and soaring, as if inviting the warriors to follow.
The two ravens that sit on the shoulders of Odin are called Hugin and Munnin (Mind and Memory).
This hypertext edition is ©1996 Data Text Publishing Ltd, and may not be downloaded for any commercial purpose, or reproduced in any form without our written permission.