Sunday, January 17, 2016

Brush Up on Your Poe

Followers of Edgar Allan Poe already know that January 19th is his birthday. For non-followers, it's time to brush up on a great American writer who has contributed much to American Literature. Poe's achievements are staggering, he is recognized as the father of the modern short story, the inventor of the detective story, pioneer of science fiction, and master of the horror story. Furthermore, he was the first writer from the United States to gain international status and the first American writer to attempt earning a living from his writing alone.

Edgar Allan Poe(1809-1849) had a horrific tragic life  filled with unremitting misery, repeating disappointment and frustration, constant poverty, and addiction. For those who want to read more about his life, I suggest you read, Edgar Allan Poe: The Strange Man Standing Deep in the Shadows


The Poe Toaster

Starting around 1930, in the early morning hours of January 19th (Poe's birthday), the Poe Toaster, a person dressed in all black, face hidden by a hood/scarf and carrying a silver-tipped cane, entered the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in Baltimore. He would go to Poe's original grave site and toast the dead writer with a glass of Martell cognac and place three red roses in a distinctive configuration on the monument along with the unfinished bottle of cognac. Although the significance of the cognac is unknown, the roses represented, Poe, his wife Virginia, and her mother Martha Clemm. Notes were occasionally left, in 1999, a note stated that the original Toaster had passed away and the tradition was passed on to his "son." The tradition abruptly stopped in 2009, the two-hundredth anniversary of Poe's birth.

In honor of Poe's birthday, I have written the following poem titled Remembering Poe:

Raven sits above my door
A gentle rapping, tapping
And the whisper of—Nevermore

These I dream, but something more,

Valdemar wakes from his decaying bed
While the Ebony Clock strikes upon the glass stained red,  

Boldly I go through the Valley of the Shadows
And fear the eerie gloom of Usher’s Manor,

The Pendulum swings upon the deathly Rue Morgue
Amontillado I drink and nothing more.

I stand at the edge of the shining sea
And wait for her—my Annabel Lee

But it’s just a Dream within a Dream,

The Toaster pays homage this day
Cognac and roses lay upon the grave,

He inspirers our thoughts and guides our pens
And thus we’re his students—Evermore.

@Wayne Adam 2016