19 January 2022

Go Poe! Yo ho ho!

  Joyous felicitations of the season.  I wish all of you a happy Edgar Allan Poe's birthday!  He entered this world of wonders on January 19, 1809.  I trust that in his honor today you will all do something appropriately Poe-ish, such as:

* Marry your thirteen-year-old cousin.

* Become a champion broad-jumper.

* Get court-martialed out of West Point.

* Inspire Robert Louis Stevenson to write Treasure Island, thereby becoming godfather to what everyone imagines is the way pirates spoke. 

* Apply for a position as a customs official and then fail to show up for the interview.

* Write the only poem to inspire the name of a professional football team.

* Join the army and become a sergeant major, the highest  rank available to a non-commissioned  officer.

* Be the author of 425 movies, according to IMDB

* Drop out of college due to insufficient funds.  (This may be the easiest item on the list for modern Americans.)

* Get fired from an editing job for drunkenness.

* Write an essay that seems to describe the Big Bang Theory, eighty years before it was formally explained. 

* Die at age 40 after being found wandering around Baltimore in someone else's clothes.

* Be slandered as a madman in your obituary by a rival who also became your literary executor. 

Or if all that seem like too much hassle, how about this easy one?

* Invent a genre of literature that is still going strong 170 years after your death, and have its major award named in your honor.  (And congratulations to everyone who was nominated for an Edgar today!)

Happy 213th, Eddy.  You don't look a day over 200.


  1. There are always new things to learn about Edgar Allan Poe!

  2. Nice tribute to the Master of the Macabre, Rob. I didn't know Poe inspired Stevenson's Treasure Island. I'll have to look into the details of that. Thanks. I know that Poe sought out the older American writer Washington Irving for his comments on "William Wilson" and "Fall of the House of Usher". I always wondered what a conversation between these two early American masters of the short story, both heavily influenced by European trends, but so different in style and taste was like. What did the creators of Ichabod Crane and Roderick Usher have to say to each other on writing and horror in particular? Yeah, I wonder about things like that....

    1. Stevenson said "The Gold Bug" inspired TREASURE ISLAND. Actually, most of what we think of as pirate talk ("Aargh! Jim lad! etc") comes from the 1950 movie of the same name. The idea of Irving meeting Poe reminds me of the fact that Oscar Wilde, Conan Doyle, RL Stevenson, James Barrie, Bram Stoker, and EW Horning once had dinner together.

    2. Now that's a dinner I wish had been recorded for the ages.

    3. Alas not, but I wrote a brief piece about it: https://www.sleuthsayers.org/2013/02/invitation-to-dinner-party.html
      Incredible to think that Doyle and Wilde were friends, since their personalities seem so different. Apparently they were introduced by their American publisher and Wilde complimented Doyle on his historical novel, The White Company. Always a good way to win an author's heart!

  3. Poe. All right. Nice to be reminded of some things and learn new things about him.

  4. Poe - one more gift from history that keeps on giving. I still wonder who the Poe Toaster was.

  5. Didn't he also attempt the form of lyrical writing we now call Poe-try in his honor?

    1. He invented a heroic Southern sandwich, the Poe-boy.

    2. https://ih1.redbubble.net/image.92886534.0557/flat,750x,075,f-pad,750x1000,f8f8f8.jpg

  6. I've seen Poe's room at U.Va. It is still preserved much as it was when he was a student there. He belonged to the Jefferson Literary & Debating Society which my daughter is a member of. There's now a Raven Society at U.Va., but it didn't exist when he was there.

    And also, the great Dolly Parton turned 76 today!!

    1. If Poe and Parton sharing a birthday doesn't prove astrology I don't know what will.

    2. I'll bet Poe's room is a lot cleaner now! (I've lived in a dorm! :) )

    3. He probably had posters of a lot of goth bands...

  7. When I was in high school, I participated in speech and debate. One of the events I participated in speech tournaments was poetry recitation. The first couple of events, the two poems I recited were "The Raven" and John Donne's "The Apparition." That was *not* well received by the judges. So I changed my repertoire to a poem by Robert Frost ("Escapist--Never") and an excerpt from Bob Dylan's "Eleven Outlined Epitaphs"."I was informed that Dylan was not a poet. (But in this case, I persisted. I'd like to find some of those judges now.)

    1. In case anyone cares, I looked up the John Donne poem:

      When by thy scorn, O murd'ress, I am dead
      And that thou think'st thee free
      From all solicitation from me,
      Then shall my ghost come to thy bed,
      And thee, feign'd vestal, in worse arms shall see;
      Then thy sick taper will begin to wink,
      And he, whose thou art then, being tir'd before,
      Will, if thou stir, or pinch to wake him, think
      Thou call'st for more,
      And in false sleep will from thee shrink;
      And then, poor aspen wretch, neglected thou
      Bath'd in a cold quicksilver sweat wilt lie
      A verier ghost than I.
      What I will say, I will not tell thee now,
      Lest that preserve thee; and since my love is spent,
      I'had rather thou shouldst painfully repent,
      Than by my threat'nings rest still innocent.

    2. The Nobel Prize committee seems to disagree with your judges.

  8. Interesting!! Thanks for this, Rob.

  9. Can't believe I didn't comment here when I first read this! (Appropriately enough in the dark hours of early morning!) Would have loved Poe to live a few more decades and interact with Doyle or Wilde!


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