Metaphor in The Raven

Poe uses metaphors and figurative language that reflect the poem’s despondent and dark tone. For example, he compares everyday items in his room to ghosts and images of the underworld. A fire ember on the floor is transformed into a “ghost,” just as the ordinary Raven is transformed into a spirit sent from hell.

The Raven 2
"is there balm in Gilead..."   (The Raven)

Gilead was a region known in biblical times for its healing plants. The narrator desperately implores the Raven to tell him if there is “balm” or medicine as promised in the Bible, metaphorically questioning whether there is any hope or remedy in religion for his grief.

"its ghost upon the floor..."   (The Raven)

"Its ghost" refers to the dying embers of the fire that is about to go out. By using mysterious and depressing words such as “bleak,” “dying,” and “ghost,” Poe’s metaphors and word choices help set the mood of the poem.