“Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore - Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore” (Famous Poets and Poems). These tantalizing words, which drip with a tinge of both horror and mystery, are taken straight from one of the most-recognized poems in U.S. literature, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”. The author of this poem is just as strange and unexplained as the poem itself. Edgar Allan Poe has captivated the imaginations of many in the poetry world, and the source of his darker side remains shrouded in mystery. The haunting gloom and terrifying eeriness that steams from his poems, send chills up any reader who finds the curiosity to open any of Poe’s works. His gritty perception of life and its characters seeped its way through his pen ink, resulting in some astonishing works. Poe’s appreciation and awe for the cleverly bad things in life, left him a depressed and deprived man, but a poet who would be remembered for years to come.
This fascinating, yet mysterious man was born in Richmond, Virginia, on January 19, 1809 to his parents, Elizabeth and David Poe, both of whom were actors. However, he was later put under the care of his grandfather, John Allan, after the sorrowful passing of his mother. Poe was steeped in a traditional education when he moved to Scotland and England. Life began to get hard after Edgar started gambling heavily at the University of Virginia, which forced him to quit school because of his debts, only to return to Richmond and find his girlfriend, Sarah Royster, engaged to another man. Only after he moved to Boston in 1827, where he published his first poems in a pamphlet titled: “Tamerlane, and Other Poems”, did his career in poetry begin to flourish (Cestre, Mabbott, Barzun).
As a young man of just eighteen years old, his life began to unfold more quickly than he had imagined. Edgar enlisted in the U.S. army in 1827, and surprisingly worked his way up to the rank of sergeant major. His grandfather signed him up for West Point, and Edgar attended as a cadet. However, for reasons unknown, John Allan suddenly stopped supplying Edgar with money, and it is thought that Poe purposely did not fulfill his duties as an officer, so as to be dismissed from West Point because of it. After an unsuccessful roller-coaster ride in the military, Edgar ultimately got a job as a newspaper editor after he won a literature contest with his story, “The Manuscript found in a Bottle.” Now twenty-seven, Edgar married his thirteen-year-old cousin Virginia in 1836. Poe continued to be successful as editor of The Southern Literary Messenger, growing its public distribution from five hundred, to three thousand five hundred issues. Although Edgar continued to struggle financially, his days as a small editor would become a launch pad for his enormous success as a poet (PoeStories.com).
Poe’s reputation as a solid poet, shot him to stardom as he begin to establish himself in his work. Edgar began writing for numerous magazines, after he moved to Philadelphia in 1838, working as both editor and writer. Although his fame began to grow after he published his first-time collection of short stories, “Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque”, he was barely able to scrape together a living. Poe became suddenly popular when he moved back to New York City in 1844, and published a hoax article claiming he had taken a balloon trip across the ocean. Although the story fabricated into a scandal, his fame was only excelled instead of tainted. By the time he published “The Raven” in 1845, Poe was a writing celebrity, drawing huge crowds with his public lectures. Edgar Allan Poe’s legacy as a mysteriously dashing poet, continued to grow as his life continued onward (Poe Museum).
Edgar’s life as a celebrity grew as the fame of his poems and works escalated, but tragedy would soon knock at Poe’s door. His wife Virginia came down with tuberculosis in 1842, and slowly wilted away, until she died in 1847 at the age of twenty-four. Devastated, the poet put down his pen, and tried to soothe his unbearable depression by drinking. Two years later, on October 7, 1849, he died. A few say alcohol killed him, others say he was murdered, but the popular opinion states that he was stumbled upon, lying unconscious in the street and was then taken to Washington College Hospital in Baltimore. He died not long after that, being buried in an unmarked grave lying in the Old Westminster Burying Ground of Baltimore. Today, a single stone rests upon the location with the figure of a Raven carved upon the face, and bears the bold line from that long-lost poem: “Quoth the Raven, Nevermore.” Although Edgar Allan Poe is nevermore upon this earth, his poetry and works will be read and admired forevermore (Merriman).
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Last edited 4/30/2011 12:00:00 AM