Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore--

from Edgar Allan Poe – The Raven on Rap Genius

Meaning

Poe puts a dark spin on the age-old “Once a upon a time” opening by choosing a bleak midnight as his setting.

The speaker is up late reading old books of lore (bodies of tradition and knowledge, often passed along through word of mouth but in this case recorded in text). This lore is “forgotten,” antiquated, odd: already we see that the speaker is an eccentric obsessed with the past.

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