Edgar Allan Poe Death Anniversary Resurrects Writer’s Visions

Edgar Allan Poe
American writer, poet and critic Edgar Allan Poe died of mysterious circumstances in Baltimore, Md. on Oct. 7, 1849. His works, legend and legacy live on.

One hundred and sixty-five years ago today, on Oct. 7, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe died in Baltimore under mysterious circumstances.

The author, essayist, editor, poet and literary critic—perhaps best known for such works as “The Raven,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “Annabel Lee” and “The Cask of Amontillado,” among others—was 40 years old.

As legend goes, Poe was discovered four days before his passing, deliriously roaming the streets of Baltimore in someone else’s clothes, repeatedly crying out the name “Reynolds” from his deathbed. His medical records and even his death certificate are said to have disappeared. Just as mysterious is the legend of the “Poe Toaster,” who saluted Poe’s grave with cognac on the writer’s birthday each January 19 for more than 60 years, beginning in 1949, until his bicentennial in 2009. The unknown visitor would always leave behind three roses.

Poe’s mysterious demise haunts his writings, best known for their macabre, dark themes often concerning death, physical decomposition, premature burial and mourning. He is thus an influential pioneer in the detective, mystery and science fiction genres.

Edgar Allan Poe's wife Virginia Clemm is though to have been his inspiration and muse for the dark, haunting poem "Annabel Lee."
Edgar Allan Poe’s wife Virginia Clemm is though to have been his inspiration and muse for the dark, haunting poem “Annabel Lee.”

Love was also a theme, though typically drenched in shadows—both in words and life.

The last complete poem by Poe was “Annabel Lee,” a beautiful woman and object of the narrator’s undying affection whose love for each other is so strong that it causes heaven’s angels to claim her out of envy. Poe’s muse for the poem is thought to have been his beloved wife Virginia Clemm, who died of tuberculosis two years before his own death.

Yet as Poe writes, their love transcends even death.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we—
Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in Heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea—
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

And so does Poe’s legacy.

Edgar Allan Poe and his literary works comprise the underbelly of the horrifyingly fantastic TV drama series The Following.
Edgar Allan Poe and his literary works comprise the underbelly of the horrifyingly fantastic TV drama series The Following.

A few recent & upcoming Edgar Allan Poe events & pop culture nods:

A brass, life-size statue of Poe—running, with a briefcase overflowing with a giant raven and human heart—was unveiled in Boston October 4. Visit the Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston for more information and details at bostonpoe.org.

Poe and his writings are also a central theme of the hit Fox TV drama series The Following—a serial killer often staging mass slayings based upon his works. Check out The Squawkler or fox.com/the-following to watch a few episodes and fall in love with Max Hardy, Ryan Hardy’s (Kevin Bacon’s) niece, played by Jessica Stroup.

Riverhead is hosting an Edgar Allan Poe Festival on Halloween and continuing through November 2, replete with readings of selected works, costumed actors and trick-or-treaters, a “Poe” parade, zombie attack, ghost story readings, puppet shows, vintage cars, flash mobs, games, music, ballet, dancing, theatrical performances and more. Check it out at facebook.com/riverheadpoefest and riverheadbid.com/docs/EdgarAllanPoe_Schedule_Book.pdf.

The Suffolk County Historical Society is also hosting an “Edgar Allan Poe Exhibit” on display from October 10 through November 8. The collection is on loan from the official Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia. Learn more at the Suffolk County Historical Society at suffolkcountyhistoricalsociety.org.

Guided tours are also available throughout the year at The Edgar Allan Poe Cottage in the Bronx, where Poe spent the final years of his life and his beloved Virginia died. Check out The Bronx County Historical Society at bronxhistoricalsociety.org and bronxhistoricalsociety.org/poecottage.html for more information.

The 2012 mystery thriller The Raven is a fictionalized account of Poe’s mysterious final days and stars John Cusack (as Poe) and Alice Eve (as his love Emily Hamilton). It’s pretty damn bad-ass.

Check out more fall festivals and celebrations taking place across Long Island HERE

Alice Eve and John Cusack  star in 2012's The Raven, a fictionalized account of the poet's mysterious final days.
Alice Eve and John Cusack star in 2012’s The Raven, a fictionalized account of the poet’s mysterious final days.

For more Edgar Allan Poe-related events, poems and factoids, check out:

Poe Museum


The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore

Poe’s Poetry Lovers page

Poe’s Poetry Foundation page

Poe’s Academy of American Poets page

Poe’s PoemHunter.com page

Poe’s Internal.org page