What is the answer?

Once 'pon this midnite dreary, while I thought, weak and weary,
Over a many quaint an epicurious volumes and forgoten lore—
As we're nodding, nearly napping, sudenly there is a clapping,
As of some one gently knocking, knocking on my wooden doors.
“’Tis some visitor,” we muttered, “tapping at the chamber doors—
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, clearly we remember it is in this bleak September;
With these different dying embers wrought their ghost upon the door.
Keenly I wished the morrows;—vainly I had found to borrow
And the book surcease and sorrow—sorrows of my sweet Lenore—
Of my rare as maiden radiant who the angels named Lenore—
Nameless here for everymore.

As the silken, slow, uncertain rustling but one purple curtain
Thrills me—fills me but fantastic terror ever had before;
And that now, I've stilled this beat and heart broken, we stood revoking
“Is some visitors entreating entrance for the chamber door—
Some later visitor entreating enter now my chamber door;—
This was it and nothing moore.”
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating and not long'r,

Edgar Allen Poe

Text has been checked and double-checked for typos.

Hint 1:

It doesn't matter which poem it is. I could have done this with any poem long enough. I changed some of the words to achieve the encoding.

Edit: There is a question in there somewhere. I want the answer to that question.

Edit: I was not aware but there are subtly different versions of The Raven. I don't have a record of which one I started with. It actually doesn't matter which version was the baseline.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't see a question here. $\endgroup$ – Mithical Jul 12 '16 at 3:32
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    $\begingroup$ Misspelled words: midnite epicurious forgoten sudenly everymore moore $\endgroup$ – Mithical Jul 12 '16 at 3:36
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    $\begingroup$ You're welcome, but I'm still not seeing a question. Could you please clarify that? $\endgroup$ – Mithical Jul 12 '16 at 3:42
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    $\begingroup$ I suspect the message is in the differences between this poem and the actual text, but it isn't jumping out at me yet. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Jul 12 '16 at 4:57
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    $\begingroup$ I would put money on the answer being... "nevermore"! $\endgroup$ – Coomie Jul 12 '16 at 8:18

The answer is ...


which answers the question:

What is nine times six?

The question is hidden in the poem in the following way:

The poem as shown here has 184 words, including the name of the author but not the title. These words can be grouped in 23 blocks of eight words. Treating words with an odd number of letters as set bits and words with an even number of letters as clear bits yields a string of 23 ASCII letters, namely the question above.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ (Note: The word "wrought" seems to be of the wrong kind.) $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Jul 14 '16 at 5:46
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    $\begingroup$ Sure it isn't 42? :) $\endgroup$ – f'' Jul 14 '16 at 6:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @f'': Only in base thirteen. :) $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Jul 14 '16 at 6:47
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    $\begingroup$ nice, I never thought in that way! (spoiler removed) $\endgroup$ – Hoàng Long Jul 14 '16 at 7:48
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    $\begingroup$ But that's the answer to "What is seven times six?" And you should have chosen a poem from Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz's œuvre. (I guess I'm past religiously quoting the Hitchhiker's Guide and the Encyclopaedia Galactica, perhaps after overdoing it for quite some time.) $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Jul 14 '16 at 18:00

Not an actual answer, just the differences I've spotted so far:

Once 'pon upon this a midnite midnight dreary, while I thought pondered, weak and weary,
Over a many many a quaint an epicurious volumes and forgoten and curious volume of forgotten lore —
As we're nodding I nodded, nearly napping, sudenly suddenly there is a clapping came a tapping,
As of some one gently knocking, knocking on my wooden doors rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” we I muttered, “tapping at the chamber doors my chamber door
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, clearly we distinctly I remember it is was in this the bleak September December;
With these different dying embers And each separate dying ember wrought their its ghost upon the door floor.
Keenly Eagerly I wished the morrows morrow;—vainly I had found had I sought to borrow
And the book From my books surcease and of sorrow—sorrows of my sweet sorrow for the lost Lenore—
Of my rare as maiden radiant who For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named name Lenore—
Nameless here for everymore evermore.

As the silken, slow, And the silken sad uncertain rustling but one of each purple curtain
Thrills me—fills me but Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terror ever had terrors never felt before;
And So that now, I've stilled this beat and heart broken to still the beating of my heart, we I stood revoking repeating
Is ’Tis some visitors visitor entreating entrance for the at my chamber door—
Some later late visitor entreating enter now entrance at my chamber door;—
This was it it is, and nothing moore more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating and not long'r then no longer,

Edgar Allen Allan Poe

Other discrepancies:

  • Some versions have “While I nodded” instead of “As I nodded” in line 3.
  • Most versions say “vainly I had sought” instead of “vainly had I sought” in line 9.
  • Some versions use "visiter" instead of "visitor".

Not sure what to make of this - some are misspellings, some are pronoun changes, some are tense changes, some are just totally different words..

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ BTW if this should be community wiki let me know (or feel free to do it yourself, I'm not sure how it works..). $\endgroup$ – user812786 Jul 12 '16 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ Poe consistently writes "visiter" rather than "visitor" as here. This one is easy enough to get wrong by accident that I'm not editing the appropriate edits into your answer. Paul Beckingham, if you're reading this, can you confirm whether the changes from "visiter" to "visitor" are deliberate? $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Jul 12 '16 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan thanks for pointing that out! Both versions show up in top search results, for instance Wikipedia and this Project Gutenberg have "visiter", but Poetry Foundation and this Project Gutenberg have "visitor". I must have clicked on a "visitor" version - if OP could clarify which "original" he was using that could be helpful! $\endgroup$ – user812786 Jul 12 '16 at 17:28
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    $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan/@whrrgarbl The visitor/visiter is not intentional, and has no bearing on the results (in this specific example). The poem itself has no bearing on the results. In fact I originally wanted Seuss's "Red fish blue fish" because of the delicious red herring reference. I'll clarify above. $\endgroup$ – Paul Beckingham Jul 12 '16 at 18:04
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    $\begingroup$ You missed the one in the title of the puzzle. $\endgroup$ – Ian MacDonald Jul 13 '16 at 21:04

Are you



the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with unintentionally amusing effect.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I guess you could describe it that way, but no. There is a question encoded in the text of the poem. Perhaps it's time for a hint... $\endgroup$ – Paul Beckingham Jul 14 '16 at 0:35

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