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what is the balm of gilead

-- Anonymous, November 30, 2003


Poe had an extensive vocabulary, no doubt, which is obvious to the readers of both his poetry as well as his ficton. Sometimes this meant introducing words that were not commonly used. Like in "The Raven" the use of ancient and poetic language seems appropriate, since the poem is about a man spending most of his time with books of "forgotten lore" also in the poem - the phrase "Is there Balm in Gilead" BALM OF GILEAD is a soothing ointment (balm) made in Gilead, a mountainous region of Palestine - east of the Jordan river.

-- Anonymous, December 01, 2003

The term "Balm in Gilead" is both the literal easing element as well as being a figurative representation of "Peace in Heaven." The reason that the narrator questions the Raven as to whether or not there is balm in Gilead is because he desires to know if ever he will be reunited with his deceased love, Lenore, and his worn and wearied spirit finally rest contentedly with hers.

All Respects and Regards

-- Anonymous, December 01, 2003

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