Mytho - historical significance of the raven in "The Raven" : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

Okay, in my English class we are working on poetry. We just read "The Raven" for a homework assignment. The next day my techer asked us to find the mytho - historical significance of the raven in he poem "The Raven". If I can get an answer ASAP that wou be great. Thanx.

-- Anonymous, November 11, 2000



While I seem to understand your question, Elizabeth, it does appear to leave some fundamentals in question and since time may be of grave importance, I'll do the best I can. Frankly, I'm not certain what your instructor means by "mytho-historical significance" and, as always, these fractured phrases always tend to break me up.

If her intent was to ask, "What is the mythological or legendary significance of the bird known as a raven?"

Generally, ravens (Corus corax) are large glossy black crows that have traditionally thought to bring notice of unfavorable events or are seen as omens of evil events close at hand. However, in Native American legend the raven is an enigmatic hero bird responsible for giving form to the earth and spreading life, but because of its deceptive and greedy nature, it is condemned to an unfavorable fate. In Scandinavian legend, Odin, king of the Gods, was brought news of the world each day by two ravens, Muninn and Huginn.

If her intent was to ask, "What is the traditional interpretation of symbolism for the raven in the poem "The Raven"?"

There have been thousands of interpretations by laymen, scholars and any other reader that has been captured by haunting sorrow, plaintive tone and the sheer power and rhythm of this sonorous poem. The one I most often hear is that the raven represents the "soul of Lenore", the beloved of the narrator. However, according to Edgar Allan Poe, himself, the raven is representative of the narrators "Mournful and never-ending remembrance" of his lost Lenore. There has been much discussion over the years regarding the inspiration for this poem. While there is little doubt that the intense realism of his sorrow was a result of his love and devotion to his wife, Virginia, the basic inspiration was one he had used often in his poems and short stories... the loss of a beautiful woman.

If her intent was to ask, "What is the historical myth that has developed over the last 150 years relative to the raven in the poem "The Raven"?"

Well, I really couldn't say beyond the silly stupid rumors that Poe always kept a pet raven; that the raven was somehow responsible for the death of his wife; that a raven alighted and sat upon a bust of Poe at his funeral and blah, blah, blah...! ThatBs just so much garbage!

The only interesting and strange tradition of fact of which I am aware is the annual pilgrimage to Edgar Allan Poe's grave by a mysterious visitor that since 1949 has brought and left three roses and a partial bottle of cognac. The visitor enters the cemetery and reverently leaves his tribute and leaves, unhindered and unmolested. The three roses are thought to represent the three people buried there, Edgar Allan Poe, Virginia Eliza Poe, and Maria Clemm. But this has nothing to do with the raven.


-- Anonymous, November 12, 2000

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