“Once upon a midnight dreary” begins " The Raven ," setting the mood for one of the most recognizable poems written in English. Edgar Allan Poe’s spooky raven enters the narrator’s house, perches on a bust above his chamber door, and repeats only one word, “nevermore.” The narrator soon learns the raven has come to stay and that he’ll never be free of longing for his lost love, Lenore.
When Poe was writing " The Raven ," his wife, Virginia, was suffering from tuberculosis. It was a weird marriage—Virginia was Poe’s first cousin and only 13 years old when they married—but there’s no doubt that Poe loved her deeply. Having lost his mother, brother, and foster mother to tuberculosis, he knew the toll the disease would take. " The Raven" is a poem written by a man who’d lost many loved ones, and was soon expecting to lose one more.