Let’s Talk Poe(try). What would National Poetry Month be without some Poe?
It seems Edgar Allan Poe was born an orphan and subsisted as a lonely dejected urchin all his life. His father David Poe Jr. abandoned his mother Elizabeth early on. A couple of years after his disappearance Elizabeth Poe died of tuberculosis; all before little Eddie was three years old.
A couple named John and Frances Allan took Edgar into their home and fostered him until adulthood or the age of eighteen. At 18 Poe joined the United States Army under the alias Edgar A. Perry claiming to be twenty-two years old because he could not [reportedly] find gainful employment
Tick tock tick tock.
Frances died and Poe was disowned by John Allan—the men had been at odds for some time. Poe did not turn out be the man Allan expected and Allan turned out to be a man Poe despised. One could not abide the other’s vices. That is my summation.
Poe had problems. He drank too much, dreamed too much and lived with depression. That’s undoubtedly obvious.
Tick tock tick tock.
Poe married his first cousin Virginia when he was 26, she was half his age. Yeah, and after a decade of harmony guess what? January 30th 1847 she died of tuberculosis.
Alone again and in failing health Poe became increasingly unstable. On October 3rd 1849 he was found wandering the streets of Baltimore bedraggled and in a state of delirium. Four days later on October 7th 1849 Edgar Allan Poe died in hospital. Alone.
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were – I have not seen
As others saw – I could not bring
My passions from a common spring –
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow – I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone –
And all I lov’d – I lov’d alone –
Then – in my childhood – in the dawn
Of a most stormy life – was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still –
From the torrent, or the fountain –
From the red cliff of the mountain –
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold –
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by –
From the thunder, and the storm –
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view –
The poem was never printed during Poe’s lifetime. It was first published by E. L. Didier in Scribner’s Monthly for September of 1875, in the form of a facsimile. The facsimile, however, included the addition of a title and date not on the original manuscript. That title was “Alone,” which has remained. Doubts about its authenticity, in part inspired by this manipulation, have since been calmed. The poem is now seen as one of Poe’s most revealing works. Original available Maryland Historical Society
The official cause of death is not recorded, perhaps it is not known. Speculations abound. Alcoholism, tuberculosis, syphilis, encephalitis, concurrent disease, murder…
All I know is this: He was only forty years old and was (like most of us) his own worst enemy. Despite his inner darkness I think Edgar Allan Poe managed to shine a light. I pray he is not alone and that the demon no longer hinders his view.
His remains are buried at Westminster Hall Church in Baltimore, Maryland.