Alas, another year passes without the appearance of the “Poe Toaster” at the grave of American writer Edgar Allen Poe. For decades, some secretive individual clothed in black had been paying midnight visits to the author’s grave in Baltimore, Maryland on January 19th, the anniversary of the author’s birth in 1809. The visitor would salute the author with a glass of cognac, then leave three red roses and the unfinished bottle of Martell on the gravestone. This “tradition” started sometime in the 1930s (although it was not reported in print until 1950) and continued until 2009. The visits have ceased, just as mysteriously as they started. Of course, there are "faux" Poe toasters (fauxsters?) who are carrying on in the elusive footsteps of the original, but they lack a certain style and grace. The original was determined to remain anonymous. The imitators, inevitably in the post-privacy age, want the publicity. Read more about this intrigue surrounding the American master of the macabre at The Washington Post.
Someone's comment on the previous post. How could I possibly exclude the works of the master of chilly scenes of autumn: Edgar Allan Poe? Oops, I forgot... or, I was planning on devoting a special post entirely to him. You decide.
Top five stories from Mr. Poe:
The Black Cat: a drunk man kills his cat and it comes back to haunt him. (Hell on earth... this from an owner of three of the little monsters.)
The Fall of the House of Usher: no, not the tale of a wildly successful R&B singer... a creepy dude lives in a haunted house. (Yep, a classic.)
The Imp of the Perverse: a murderer struggles against the urge to confess his crime. Contains a fabulous passage about procrastination:
"We have a task before us which must be speedily performed. We know that it will be ruinous to make delay. The most important crisis of our life calls, trumpet-tongued, for immediate energy and action. We glow, we are consumed with eagerness to commence the work, with the anticipation of whose glorious result our whole souls are on fire. It must, it shall be undertaken to-day, and yet we put it off until to-morrow, and why? There is no answer, except that we feel perverse, using the word with no comprehension of the principle. To-morrow arrives, and with it a more impatient anxiety to do our duty, but with this very increase of anxiety arrives, also, a nameless, a positively fearful, because unfathomable, craving for delay. This craving gathers strength as the moments fly. The last hour for action is at hand. We tremble with the violence of the conflict within us, -- of the definite with the indefinite -- of the substance with the shadow. But, if the contest have proceeded thus far, it is the shadow which prevails, -- we struggle in vain. The clock strikes, and is the knell of our welfare. At the same time, it is the chanticleer -- note to the ghost that has so long overawed us. It flies -- it disappears -- we are free. The old energy returns. We will labor now. Alas, it is too late!"
The Tell-Tale Heart: another murderer haunted to the point of madness by his crime.
William Wilson: The narrator, who calls himself William Wilson, describes events of his childhood and adolescence and the rivalry between himself and another person named William Wilson. As the tale unwinds, we learn of numerous similarities between the two Wilsons. Are they twin brothers? or something else? Creepy!!
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