The unnamed narrator is alone in his house on a cold December evening, trying to read. As he is about to fall asleep, he hears a quiet knock at his door, but decides to ignore it. He says that he has been reading in the hopes of relieving his sorrow over Lenore, his beloved, who has passed away. Though he tries to convince himself that nothing is there, his curiosity and fear overwhelm him. He eventually opens his door, speaking “Lenore?” into the darkness. When he hears tapping at his window, he opens that, too, and a Raven flies inside his room, landing on a bust of Pallas. The narrator jokingly asks the Raven’s name, and is surprised to hear it respond “Nevermore.” He mutters to himself that the Raven will probably leave him just as his friends and loved ones did, to which the Raven responds once more “Nevermore.” The narrator then seats himself directly in front of the bird, trying to understand what it means by “Nevermore.”
Suddenly, the narrator perceives that angels sent by God have caused the air to become dense and perfumed. Anxious, he asks the Raven if the angels are a sign that heaven will relieve him of his sorrows, to which the bird says, again, “Nevermore.” With the same response, the bird rejects his hope that he might see Lenore again in heaven, as well as his impassioned request for the bird to leave him alone. Finally, the narrator tells us that the Raven has continued to sit atop his chamber door above the bust of Pallas, and that he will live forever in its shadow.