The short stories and poetry of 19th-century American Edgar Allan Poe reflect the writer’s haunting imagination. “The Raven” (1845), one of Poe’s most famous poems, tells the tale of a poet lost in memories of his dead love, Lenore. A raven startles the poet and repeatedly answers his tormented questions about Lenore with the word, “Nevermore.” Recited here by an actor, the opening lines of “The Raven” set a gloomy tone for the poem characteristic of Poe’s style.

Among Poe's poetic output, about a dozen poems are remarkable for their flawless literary construction and for their haunting themes and meters. In “The Raven” (1845), for example, the narrator is overwhelmed by melancholy and omens of death. Poe's extraordinary manipulation of rhythm and sound is particularly evident in “The Bells” (1849), a poem that seems to echo with the chiming of metallic instruments, and “The Sleeper” (1831), which reproduces the state of drowsiness. “Lenore” (1831) and “Annabel Lee” (1849) are verse lamentations on the death of a beautiful young woman.

In the course of his editorial work, Poe functioned largely as a book reviewer and produced a significant body of criticism; his essays were famous for their sarcasm, wit, and exposure of literary pretension. His evaluations have withstood the test of time and have earned for him a high place among American literary critics. Poe's theories on the nature of fiction and, in particular, his writings on the short story have had a lasting influence on American and European writers.

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