He was born on a Thursday in January, 1809. Some 35 years later, Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem “The Raven,” was published on this day…. January 29th. It appeared in the New York Evening Mirror.
Now, I’ve always had a thing for Poe. I blame it on my Dad. He knew the Raven like the back of his hand. And out of nowhere, on some Wednesday night, we’d be standing at his work bench, fixing up something… and Dad would break into a recital. It might be a song… or a verse… or sometimes a long and involved poem. Sometimes… it was a very eerie… The Raven.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
”‘Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”
Honesty, I think Dad had the entire thing… that long and ongoing poem… completely committed to memory. He knew a lot of poems that way. And then we… the little K’s …. came to know a lot of poems that way.
Yep. Poe. He was a dark and macabre fellow, I would say. His work was dark too. A direct reflection on his own difficult and turbulent life. He seemed to have a rough go of things at every turn. He was born in Boston. His dear old dad… abandoned the family in 1810. And then… his mother died right after that.
Little Orphan Ed. He was never formally adopted… but he WAS taken in by John and Frances Allan of Richmond, Virginia. Poe was with them well into young adulthood.
Then he joined the military. And then he started writing. In great volumes. And drinking. In greater volumes. In fact, he pretty much drank himself to death.
It all came to a head on October 3, 1849. He was found completely BLUTO… and delirious on the streets of Baltimore. He was taken to the Washington Medical College where he died on Sunday, October 7, 1849 at 5:00 in the morning.
There is a lot of mystery around his death. Like… how he ended up on that park bench, all freezing cold and incoherent. He never came around long enough to explain how it all transpired. And…. oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own.
All medical records have been lost, including his death certificate.
As a sidebar, there is a place on Sullivan’s Island near Charleston, SC. It is called Poe’s Tavern. They… have THE best Cheeseburgers in all the land. Apparently, Poe lived in the area during his military service… when he was about 18. I never once saw a Raven any of the times we ate there. So I don’t think he got the idea for the poem while he was on Sullivan’s Island.
Anyway, there it is. The Raven. Published on this date.. a long time ago.
“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”