Let’s Talk About It Tuesday (A Poem & A Picture)

Let’s Talk Poe(try). What would National Poetry Month be without some Poe?

Talk Alone A Poem & A Picture

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.

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.

Spirits of the Dead

Spirits of the Dead (aka Visits of the Dead)
Edgar Allan Poe, 1809 – 1849

EAPThy soul shall find itself alone
‘Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone;
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.

Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness — for then
The spirits of the dead, who stood
In life before thee, are again
In death around thee, and their will
Shall overshadow thee; be still.

EAP in chainsThe night, though clear, shall frown,
And the stars shall not look down
From their high thrones in the Heaven
With light like hope to mortals given,
But their red orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee for ever.

Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,
Now are visions ne’er to vanish;
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more, like dew-drop from the grass.

The breeze, the breath of God, is still,
And the mist upon the hill
Shadowy, shadowy, yet unbroken,
Is a symbol and a token.
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries!