“Nevermore” quoth the Raven in Edgar Allan Poe’s 1845 poem “The Raven.” Anyone who has gone to school in the United States has read this poem at some point in their education. The word “nevermore,” in use since around 900 A.D., means what it says: Never again. Whether or not it was commonly used before “The Raven” was first published, such is the power of Poe that ever after “nevermore” has been understood as a direct or indirect allusion to “The Raven.” You don’t believe me? I did some research and discovered the surprising extent to which Poe’s poem is imprinted on our collective psyche.
The first entry on Wikipedia’s always informative “disambiguation” page refers to a Seattle, WA, heavy-metal band named “Nevermore.” Nevermore is also the title of a few novels, films, a Dr. Who “audio play,” a musical, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle character. However, three other entries are, to me, the most interesting.
First, the most surprising find was that French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gaugin in 1897 created an oil painting he named “Nevermore.” It depicts his naked Tahitian wife lying on their bed; in the background is a raven, and “Nevermore” is written in capitals at the top of the painting. At the time Gaugin painted it, he and his young wife were grieving the loss of their first child, and Gaugin was grieving the loss of his European daughter.
Third, a young American composer, Edward W. Hardy, created a violin solo, “Nevermore,” and starred in a 2018 short film by the same name. Hardy, in fact, wrote “Three Pieces Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe” that included “Nevermore,” “Evil Eye,” and “A Fantasy.” “Nevermore” is a beautiful, haunting violin solo that, to me, truly evokes Poe. (The five-minute film is posted below.)
So henceforth whenever you hear “nevermore,” you can, if you choose, try to avoid thinking of “The Raven” and think instead of Gaugin, Queen, and Hardy. Enjoy the vids!