Facebook Twitter Blog Mailing List

Featured Member

Jessika Richter
Jessika Richter
(Lund - Sweden)

The short and sweet: I have been a passionate teacher since 2001.  I first worked with the National Park Service in Washington (state), then moved to Australia where I completed my DipEd at the University of Melbourne and then taught at Hailebury  ...

Literature of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe


A unit on the study of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories

Navigate to This External Web Link:

The Raven Poem by Edgar Allan 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 blest 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 further 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 my sad 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 in 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!

Lesson 1: Building Suspense with Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Raven"

Materials: Copies of "The Raven" and "The Fall of the House of Usher," pens, pencils and paper.


Objectives (based on the North Carolina Standard Course of Study):

  • The student will interpret meaning for an audience by examining the functions of narrative strategies such as plot, conflict, suspense, point of view and dialogue
  • The student will analyze stylistic features such as word choice and links between sense and sound.
  • The student will develop thematic connections among works by examining how representative elements such as tone, mood and style impact the development of theme.
  • The student will apply conventions of grammar and language usage by revising writing to enhance voice and style, sentence variety and other elements of fiction writing

anomalous, appellation, domain, equivocal, importunate, insoluble, insufferable, melancholy, munificent, obeisance, scrutinizing, sentience, specious, unobtrusive


1. Show a clip from a popular horror movie or play Michael Jackson's "Thriller" while displaying lyrics. Ask students to share scary movies, television shows or books. Discuss the purpose and function of horror stories.

2. Introduce Edgar Allan Poe. You can read a brief description from one of these web sites or, if students are particularly interested in Poe, allow them to search the sites themselves:

3. Discuss the narrative strategies of plot, conflict, suspense, point of view, dialogue, voice and style. You can divide the class into groups, assign them each a strategy, and ask them to write a brief description or give a demonstration of the meaning and function of the strategy.

4. Read "The Fall of the House of Usher." Ask each group to identify the function of their strategy in the piece. Share with class.

5. Read "The Raven," repeating step 4.

6. In groups, ask students to brainstorm their own ideas for a horror story.

7. Students should individually write their own stories and then share their work with peers. Monitor students while they write to identify strategies for review. Give them a checklist of narrative strategies to ensure that all strategies reviewed are complete and present in the student work.

8. Ask students to submit a final draft for teacher review. If necessary, you can hold teacher-student conferences after peer review.


Students can be monitored for participation and comprehension during group work. The short stories can be evaluated for successful use of narrative strategies, format and completion.


Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Fall of the House of Usher." Prentice Hall Literature: The American Experience. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2007.

Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Raven." Prentice Hall Literature: The American Experience. Upper Saddle River, Prentice Hall, 2007.

The Works of Edgar Allen Poe Vol. 2 - Includes The Tell-Tale Heart, The Black Cat, and The Pit and the Pendulum

The Works of Edgar Allen Poe Vol. 2 - Includes The Tell-Tale Heart, The Black Cat, and The Pit and the Pendulum - e-text from Project Gutenberg, part of the reading list for college-bound students is a combination of many lists compiled by colleges and universities for high school reading. This list can be accessed at http://northport.k12.ny.us/~nphs/english%20college.htm College professors expect incoming students to be familiar with these works; in many cases they will be reread and studied in more depth at college.

Open or Download This File:


The Cask of Amontillado

A Shmoop study guide for The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe. Includes overview and study questions.

Open or Download This File:


The Tell-Tale Heart

A Shmoop study guide for The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. Includes overview and study questions.

Open or Download This File:


William Wilson

A Shmoop study guide for William Wilson by Edgar Allan Poe. Includes overview and study questions.

Open or Download This File:


The Raven

Shmoop study guide for the poem "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe.

Open or Download This File:


The Fall of the House of Usher

A Shmoop study guide for The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe. Includes overview and study questions.

Open or Download This File:


Short Story Handouts

An introduction to the short story unit and a collection of short story reading guides and vocabulary activities. Handouts include:

  1. What is a Short Story?
2. Introduction to Key Concepts 3. Edgar Allan Poe: “The Tell-Tale Heart” 4. Saki: “The Open Window” 5. John Cheever: “Reunion” 6. Alice Walker: “Everyday Use” 7. D.H. Lawrence: “The Rockinghorse Winner” 8. Mini-Essay: Comparing Parent-Child Relationships in Two Stories 9. Stephen Crane: “The Open Boat” 10. Writing a Short Story

Open or Download This File: