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The Raven

Poe, Edgar Allan (Author)
Price, Ryan (Illustrator)
Kids Can Press 2006. 48 pages
First published: 1845
Series: Visions in Poetry
ISBN: 9781554534593 (paperback)
9781553374732 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Dewey: 811
Book type: Picture Book
Book genre: Poetry

Text Elements:

characterization, evocative language, figurative language, layout, multimodal, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Poe’s beloved poem is revived with haunting black and white illustrations rendered in drypoint printmaking. The abstract etchings are as disturbing as this classic text that delves into themes of grief, guilt, obsession, darkness and self-torture. “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.”

The raven’s form is human-like while the narrator’s figure is elongated, his nose like a beak, his fingers slender like claws, suggesting that the crow is a manifestation of the narrator. Photographs in the background betray nostalgia and guilt about the “radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”

The text uses alliteration and repetition as well as reliable rhythm and rhyme, providing momentum as it plunges deeper into despair and madness. Though some words are archaic, they aren’t foreign and only add to the altered atmosphere: “Eagerly I wished the morrow;/—vainly I had tried to borrow/From my books surcease of sorrow/—sorrow for the lost Lenore—.”

Some modern touches are offered by the illustrations. One page shows a television set with an image of the crow wearing a suit in a graveyard. Raven tracks spread across the floor while on the opposite page, a dead plant is losing its leaves in a pattern that spells “Lenore.”

The final page shows the narrator subsumed by the raven’s shadow, trapped indefinitely in obsession, darkness and regret.

  •  

    Based on the first double-page illustration, make predictions about this version of the well-known poem. Note the ideas you generate and come back to them during reading.

  •  In a small response group, read and discuss the poem and its illustrations. Share what was noticed, what it might mean and why it might matter. Make production notes following the discussion.
  •  

    Following reading and discussions, use a response process to produce a written response. Select excerpts from the responses to be anthologized. Share them with peers.

  •  

    Do some research on the short troubled life of Edgar Allan Poe and the era he lived in. In a small group, discuss what you believe this poem will be about. What about Poe’s life may have contributed to his style of writing?

  •  

    While you read, focus on the artist’s interpretation of the poem and the illustrations that go with each part. Why do you think the artist chose to use drypoint as his technique for this poem?

  •  

    Select a poem and break it down into several clear, logical parts. Find images and illustrations that link well to each part. Do a reading for the rest of the class, while presenting your chosen visuals on an IWB.

  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use information
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Social Sciences
  • Visual Arts