A Toast to Poe

poeMy first encounter with Poe was many years ago during a literature class in which we were assigned to read The Tell-Tale Heart and Annabel Lee. 

After reading the short stories, I was quite in shock and a little disturbed by them. This was creepy! How could someone write like this? But it led me to want to known more about Poe.

I am fortunate enough to live near a city where Poe once lived, Richmond. About a year ago I visited a small museum in the city dedicated to Poe’s life and writings.

While visiting it, I was able to learn not only about Poe’s life, but the tragedies that often seem to haunt him. Perhaps this is why he wrote as he did. Maybe he found writing as a form of escape.

Poe went through a lot. His mother died when he was two, he had to join the army because he didn’t have enough money, he had a terrible relationship with his foster father, his wife died at an early age, etc. The list could go on forever. 

However, what really seemed to break him was his wife’s death. This led him to excessive drinking and into a depression. While the cause of Poe’s death is officially unknown, (there are theories ranging from carbon monoxide poisoning to cooping, which is a type of voter fraud system) it is widely thought that alcohol killed him. 

In fact, it seems his life was so depressing and tragic, it is believed his last words were, “Lord help my poor soul.”

Poe Cat 2“Pluto, this was the cat’s name, was my favorite pet and playmate.” ~The Black Cat

• Poe had a love for cats. In fact, he had a beloved cat named Catarina who would often sit on his shoulder as he wrote •

Poe Museum

“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” ~Poe

• The Raven is what made Poe famous as a writer •

Hawk

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” ~Eleonora

• Poe is considered to be the inventor of the detective fiction genre •

While Poe’s life was devastating in numerous ways, he has inspired generations of readers with his writings and left us with not only fantastic, but very macabre stories and poems to ponder, like The Raven and The Black Cat. 

So today, January 19th, we celebrate the 208th birthday of Poe; and just like in celebratory spirit of the Poe Toaster who mysteriously visits Poe’s grave each year and leaves a bottle of cognac and three roses in commemoration,  I raise my cup of coffee to Poe and thank him for his contribution to literature. 

 

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