Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
February 4, 1935 – October 14, 2009
"The Member of the Wedding"
To Kill A Mockingbird
"The Twilight Zone"
"Alfred Hitchcock Hour"
"Well, it was huge for me, because of course I’d read Carson McCullers and absolutely adored her. It’s any ingenue’s dream part, and I just loved everything about it. And like every other young actress in New York, I was going to have that part."
Collin Wilcox (February 4, 1935 – October 14, 2009) was an American actress, variably credited as Collin Wilcox-Horne or Collin Wilcox-Paxton.
She was born in Cincinnati and moved with her family to Highlands, North Carolina as a baby. She made her professional debut in Chicago as part of the improvisational group, The Compass Players, which included Mike Nichols, Elaine May, and Shelley Berman. In 1958 Wilcox won the Clarence Derwent Award for her performance in The Day Money Stopped on Broadway. She starred in the 1961 play Look, We've Come Through with Burt Reynolds on Broadway. She replaced another actress in the 1963 revival of Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude and then went on to do the 1965 play The Family Way, both on Broadway.
She is perhaps best known for her role in the film To Kill a Mockingbird, in which she played Mayella Violet Ewell, who accuses Tom Robinson (Brock Peters) of raping her.
She died from brain cancer at the age of 74.
"Oh, The Twilight Zone. My own father was very much like what you hear about her father – the way Marilyn talks about her father. One of his lines, that she quotes, was, 'When everyone’s beautiful, no one will be beautiful.' My father was an educated, compassionate man, and I thought about that when I was doing that role. You know, I was totally on the side of Marilyn – thinking, this is awful, this could lead to 1984, with a stretch of the imagination."An Interview with Collin Wilcox « The Classic TV History Blog
"Always with The Fugitive, we shot in the most ungodly, tackylocations, it seemed. This one ["Approach With Care"] was around a rubber tire refuse place. There were towers of ancient rubber tires everywhere. I don’t know how five hundred people always found David Janssen, but they did, and they would arrive at the shoot. He had his great big trailer, and he would never sign autographs. They would even get to the point where they would start shaking the trailer."
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
The Vault of Horror: Zombieland: Instant Cult Classic
Edgar Allan Poe
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."
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow ; — vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow — sorrow for the lost Lenore —
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore —
Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me — filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before ;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
" ’Tis some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door —
Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door ;
This it is and nothing more."
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore ;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you" — here I opened wide the door ; ——
Darkness there and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore !"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore !" —
Merely this, and nothing more.
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon I heard again a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice ;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore —
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
"Tis the wind and nothing more !"
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore ;
Not the least obeisance made he; not an instant stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door —
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door —
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
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."
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning — little relevancy bore ;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door —
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."
But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered — not a feather then he fluttered —
Till I scarcely more than muttered "Other friends have flown before —
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said "Nevermore."
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore —
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never — nevermore."
But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore —
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."
This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplght gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore !
Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Angels whose faint foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee —
by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite — respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore !"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! — prophet still, if bird or devil! —
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted —
On this home by Horror haunted — tell me truly, I implore —
Is there — is there balm in Gilead ? — tell me — tell me, I implore !"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil — prophet still, if bird or devil !
By that Heaven that bends above us — by that God we both adore —
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore —
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
"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."
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted — nevermore !
Saturday, October 17, 2009
SARAH HELEN WHITMAN’S DEFENSE
Dr. Griswold’s Memoir of Edgar Poe has been extensively read and circulated. Its perverted facts and baseless assumptions have been adopted into every subsequent memoir and notice of the poet, and have been translated into many languages. For ten years this great wrong to the dead has passed unchallenged and unrebuked.
It is not our purpose to present specially to review Dr. Griswold’s numerous misrepresentations, and misstatements. Some of the more injurious of these anecdotes were disproved, during the life of Dr. Griswold, in the New York Tribune, and other leading journals, without eliciting from him any public statement in explanation or apology.
We have the authority for stating that many of the disgraceful anecdotes, so industriously collected by Dr. Griswold, are utterly fabulous, while others are perversions of the truth, more injurious in their effects than unmitigated fiction.
We propose simply to point out some unformed critical estimates which have obtained currency among readers who have had but a partial acquaintance with Mr. Poe’s more imaginative writings, and to record our own impressions of the character and genius of the poet, as derived from personal observation and from the testimony of those who knew him.
The peculiar character of Poe’s intellect seemed without a prototype in literature. He had more than De Quincey’s power of analysis, with a constructive unity and completeness of which the great English essayist has given no indication. His pre-eminence in constructive and analytical skill was beginning to be universally admitted, and the fame and prestige of his genius were rapidly increasing.
A recent and not too lenient critic tells us that "it was his sensitiveness to artistic imperfections, rather than any malignity of feeling, that made his criticisms so severe, and procured him a host of enemies among persons towards whom he entertained no personal ill-will."
It is not to be questioned that Poe was a consummate master of language, that he had sounded all the secrets of rhythm, that he understood and availed himself of all its resources. Yet this consummate art was in him united with a rare simplicity. He was the most genuine of enthusiasts. His genius would follow no leadings but those of his own imperial intellect. With all his vast mental resources he could never write an occasional poem, or adapt himself to the taste of a popular audience. His graver narratives and fantasies are often related with an earnest simplicity, solemnity, and apparent fidelity, attributable, not so much to a deliberate artistic purpose, as to that power of vivid and intense conception that made his dreams realities, and his life a dream.
His works are, as if unconsciously, filled with an overwhelming sense of the power and majesty of Deity. They are even dark with reverential awe. His proud intellectual assumption of the supremacy of the individual soul was but an expression of its imperious longings for immortality and its recoil from the haunting phantasms of death and annihilation. The theme of all his more imaginative writings is, as we have said, a love that survives the dissolution of the mortal body and oversweeps the grave. His mental and temperamental idiosyncrasies fitted him to come readily into rapport with psychic and spiritual influences. Many of his strange narratives had a degree of truth in them which he was unwilling to avow. In one of his stories, he makes the narrator say, "I cannot even now regard these experiences as a dream, yet it is difficult to say how otherwise they should be termed. Let us suppose only that the soul of man, today, is on the brink of stupendous psychic discoveries."
Having recorded our earnest protest against the misapprehension of his critics and the misstatements of his biographists, we leave the subject for the present, in the belief that a more impartial memoir of the poet will yet be given to the world, and the story of his sad strange life, when contemplated from a new point of view, will be found to present, at least, a silver lining.
Sarah Helen Whitman,
Providence poet and former fiancée of Poe.
Friday, October 16, 2009
THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO
Edgar A. Poe
THE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitely, settled --but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong. It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my in to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my to smile now was at the thought of his immolation.
He had a weak point --this Fortunato --although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared. He prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine. Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit.
For the most part their enthusiasm is adopted to suit the time and opportunity, to practise imposture upon the British and Austrian millionaires. In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack, but in the matter of old wines he was sincere. In this respect I did not differ from him materially; --I was skilful in the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could.
It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend. He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much. The man wore motley. He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells. I was so pleased to see him that I thought I should never have done wringing his hand.
I said to him --"My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking to-day. But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontillado, and I have my doubts."
"How?" said he. "Amontillado, A pipe? Impossible! And in the middle of the carnival!"
"I have my doubts," I replied; "and I was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain."
"I have my doubts."
"And I must satisfy them."
"As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchresi. If any one has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me --"
"Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry."
"And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own.
"Come, let us go."
"To your vaults."
"My friend, no; I will not impose upon your good nature. I perceive you have an engagement. Luchresi--"
"I have no engagement; --come."
"My friend, no. It is not the engagement, but the severe cold with which I perceive you are afflicted. The vaults are insufferably damp. They are encrusted with nitre."
"Let us go, nevertheless. The cold is merely nothing. Amontillado! You have been imposed upon. And as for Luchresi, he cannot distinguish Sherry from Amontillado."
Thus speaking, Fortunato possessed himself of my arm; and putting on a mask of black silk and drawing a roquelaire closely about my person, I suffered him to hurry me to my palazzo.
There were no attendants at home; they had absconded to make merry in honour of the time. I had told them that I should not return until the morning, and had given them explicit orders not to stir from the house. These orders were sufficient, I well knew, to insure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back was turned.
I took from their sconces two flambeaux, and giving one to Fortunato, bowed him through several suites of rooms to the archway that led into the vaults. I passed down a long and winding staircase, requesting him to be cautious as he followed. We came at length to the foot of the descent, and stood together upon the damp ground of the catacombs of the Montresors.
The gait of my friend was unsteady, and the bells upon his cap jingled as he strode.
"The pipe," he said.
"It is farther on," said I; "but observe the white web-work which gleams from these cavern walls."
He turned towards me, and looked into my eves with two filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of intoxication.
"Nitre?" he asked, at length.
"Nitre," I replied. "How long have you had that cough?"
"Ugh! ugh! ugh! --ugh! ugh! ugh! --ugh! ugh! ugh! --ugh! ugh! ugh! --ugh! ugh! ugh!"
My poor friend found it impossible to reply for many minutes.
"It is nothing," he said, at last.
"Come," I said, with decision, "we will go back; your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was. You are a man to be missed. For me it is no matter. We will go back; you will be ill, and I cannot be responsible. Besides, there is Luchresi --"
"Enough," he said; "the cough's a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough."
"True --true," I replied; "and, indeed, I had no intention of alarming you unnecessarily --but you should use all proper caution. A draught of this Medoc will defend us from the damps. Here I knocked off the neck of a bottle which I drew from a long row of its fellows that lay upon the mould.
"Drink," I said, presenting him the wine.
He raised it to his lips with a leer. He paused and nodded to me familiarly, while his bells jingled.
"I drink," he said, "to the buried that repose around us."
"And I to your long life."
He again took my arm, and we proceeded.
"These vaults," he said, "are extensive."
"The Montresors," I replied, "were a great and numerous family."
"I forget your arms."
"A huge human foot d'or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel."
"And the motto?"
"Nemo me impune lacessit."
"Good!" he said.
The wine sparkled in his eyes and the bells jingled. My own fancy grew warm with the Medoc. We had passed through long walls of piled skeletons, with casks and puncheons intermingling, into the inmost recesses of the catacombs. I paused again, and this time I made bold to seize Fortunato by an arm above the elbow.
"The nitre!" I said; "see, it increases. It hangs like moss upon the vaults. We are below the river's bed. The drops of moisture trickle among the bones. Come, we will go back ere it is too late. Your cough --"
"It is nothing," he said; "let us go on. But first, another draught of the Medoc."
I broke and reached him a flagon of De Grave. He emptied it at a breath. His eyes flashed with a fierce light. He laughed and threw the bottle upwards with a gesticulation I did not understand.
I looked at him in surprise. He repeated the movement --a grotesque one.
"You do not comprehend?" he said.
"Not I," I replied.
"Then you are not of the brotherhood."
"You are not of the masons."
"Yes, yes," I said; "yes, yes."
"You? Impossible! A mason?"
"A mason," I replied.
"A sign," he said, "a sign."
"It is this," I answered, producing from beneath the folds of my roquelaire a trowel.
"You jest," he exclaimed, recoiling a few paces. "But let us proceed to the Amontillado."
"Be it so," I said, replacing the tool beneath the cloak and again offering him my arm. He leaned upon it heavily. We continued our route in search of the Amontillado. We passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on, and descending again, arrived at a deep crypt, in which the foulness of the air caused our flambeaux rather to glow than flame.
At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared another less spacious. Its walls had been lined with human remains, piled to the vault overhead, in the fashion of the great catacombs of Paris.
Three sides of this interior crypt were still ornamented in this manner. From the fourth side the bones had been thrown down, and lay promiscuously upon the earth, forming at one point a mound of some size. Within the wall thus exposed by the displacing of the bones, we perceived a still interior crypt or recess, in depth about four feet, in width three, in height six or seven. It seemed to have been constructed for no especial use within itself, but formed merely the interval between two of the colossal supports of the roof of the catacombs, and was backed by one of their circumscribing walls of solid granite.
It was in vain that Fortunato, uplifting his dull torch, endeavoured to pry into the depth of the recess. Its termination the feeble light did not enable us to see.
"Proceed," I said; "herein is the Amontillado. As for Luchresi --"
"He is an ignoramus," interrupted my friend, as he stepped unsteadily forward, while I followed immediately at his heels. In niche, and finding an instant he had reached the extremity of the niche, and finding his progress arrested by the rock, stood stupidly bewildered. A moment more and I had fettered him to the granite. In its surface were two iron staples, distant from each other about two feet, horizontally. From one of these depended a short chain, from the other a padlock. Throwing the links about his waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure it. He was too much astounded to resist. Withdrawing the key I stepped back from the recess.
"Pass your hand," I said, "over the wall; you cannot help feeling the nitre. Indeed, it is very damp. Once more let me implore you to return. No? Then I must positively leave you. But I must first render you all the little attentions in my power."
"The Amontillado!" ejaculated my friend, not yet recovered from his astonishment.
"True," I replied; "the Amontillado."
As I said these words I busied myself among the pile of bones of which I have before spoken. Throwing them aside, I soon uncovered a quantity of building stone and mortar. With these materials and with the aid of my trowel, I began vigorously to wall up the entrance of the niche.
I had scarcely laid the first tier of the masonry when I discovered that the intoxication of Fortunato had in a great measure worn off. The earliest indication I had of this was a low moaning cry from the depth of the recess. It was not the cry of a drunken man.
There was then a long and obstinate silence. I laid the second tier, and the third, and the fourth; and then I heard the furious vibrations of the chain. The noise lasted for several minutes, during which, that I might hearken to it with the more satisfaction, I ceased my labours and sat down upon the bones.
When at last the clanking subsided, I resumed the trowel, and finished without interruption the fifth, the sixth, and the seventh tier. The wall was now nearly upon a level with my breast. I again paused, and holding the flambeaux over the mason-work, threw a few feeble rays upon the figure within.
A succession of loud and shrill screams, bursting suddenly from the throat of the chained form, seemed to thrust me violently back. For a brief moment I hesitated, I trembled. Unsheathing my rapier, I began to grope with it about the recess; but the thought of an instant reassured me. I placed my hand upon the solid fabric of the catacombs, and felt satisfied. I reapproached the wall; I replied to the yells of him who clamoured. I re-echoed, I aided, I surpassed them in volume and in strength. I did this, and the clamourer grew still. It was now midnight, and my task was drawing to a close. I had completed the eighth, the ninth and the tenth tier. I had finished a portion of the last and the eleventh; there remained but a single stone to be fitted and plastered in. I struggled with its weight; I placed it partially in its destined position. But now there came from out the niche a low laugh that erected the hairs upon my head. It was succeeded by a sad voice, which I had difficulty in recognizing as that of the noble Fortunato. The voice said--
"Ha! ha! ha! --he! he! he! --a very good joke, indeed --an excellent jest. We will have many a rich laugh about it at the palazzo --he! he! he! --over our wine --he! he! he!"
"The Amontillado!" I said.
"He! he! he! --he! he! he! --yes, the Amontillado. But is it not getting late? Will not they be awaiting us at the palazzo, the Lady Fortunato and the rest? Let us be gone."
"Yes," I said, "let us be gone."
"For the love of God, Montresor!"
"Yes," I said, "for the love of God!"
But to these words I hearkened in vain for a reply. I grew impatient. I called aloud --
No answer. I called again --
No answer still. I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and let it fall within. There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so. I hastened to make an end of my labour. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up. Against the new masonry I re-erected the old rampart of bones.
For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them.
In pace requiescat!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
GEORGE GRAHAM'S DEFENSE
Graham’s Magazine, 1850
My Dear Willis,
In an article of yours which accompanies the two beautiful volumes of the writings of Edgar Allan Poe, you have spoken with so much truth and delicacy of the deceased, and, with the magical touch of genius, have called so warmly up before me the memory of our lost friend as you and I both seem to have known him, that I feel warranted in addressing to you the few plain words I have to say in defense of his character as set down by Mr. Griswold.
I now purpose to take exception to it in the most public manner. I knew Mr. Poe well, far better than Mr. Griswold. And by the memory of old times, when he was an editor of "Graham’s Magazine", I pronounce this exceedingly ill-timed and unappreciative estimate of the character of our lost friend, unfair and untrue.
It is Mr. Poe as seen by the writer while laboring under a fit of the nightmare, but so dark a picture has no resemblance to the living man.
The only relief we feel is in knowing that it is not true, that it is a fancy sketch of a perverted, jaundiced vision.
The man who could deliberately say of Edgar Allan Poe, in a notice of his life and writings prefacing the volumes which were to become a priceless souvenir to all who loved him, that his death might startle many, "but that few would be grieved by it," and blast the whole fame of the man by such a paragraph as follows, is a judge dishonored.
He is not Mr. Poe’s peer, and I challenge him before the country even as a juror in the case.
Now, this depiction of Poe is dastardly, and, what is worse, it is false.
It is very adroitly done, with phrases very well turned, and with gleams of truth shining out from a setting so dusky as to look devilish.
Mr. Griswold does not feel the worth of the man he has undervalued. He had no sympathies in common with him, and has allowed old prejudices and old enmities to steal, insensibly perhaps, into the coloring of his picture.
They were for years totally uncongenial, if not enemies. It almost seems as if the present hacking at the cold remains of Poe is a sort of compensation for duty long delayed, for reprisal long desired, but deferred.
Nor do I consider Mr. Griswold competent, with all the opportunities he may have cultivated or acquired, to act as his judge, to dissect that subtle and singularly fine intellect, to probe the motives and weigh the actions of that proud heart.
Poe’s whole nature eludes the rude grasp of a mind so warped and uncongenial as Mr. Griswold’s.
Among the true friends of Poe in this city, and he had some such here, that he did not class among villains; nor do they feel easy when they see their old friend dressed out, in his grave, in the habiliments of a scoundrel.
Poe’s friends had all of them looked upon our departed friend as singularly indifferent to wealth for its own sake, but as very positive in his opinions that the scale of social merit was not of the highest; that the mind, somehow, was apt to be left out of the estimate altogether.
As to his "quick choler" when he was contradicted, it depended a good deal upon the party denying, as well as upon the subject discussed.
He was quick, it is true, to perceive mere quacks in literature, and somewhat apt to be hasty when pestered with them. But upon most other questions his natural amiability was not easily disturbed.
Upon a subject that he understood thoroughly, he felt some right to be positive, if not arrogant, when addressing pretenders.
Literature with him was religion; and he, its high priest, with a whip of scorpions, scourged the money-changers from the temple.
In all else, he had the docility and kind-heartedness of a child. No man was more quickly touched by a kindness, none more prompt to return for an injury.
For three and four years I knew him intimately, and for eighteen months saw him almost daily, much of the time writing or conversing at the same desk, knowing all his hopes, his fears, and little annoyances of life, as well as his high-hearted struggle with adverse fate. Yet he was always the same polished gentleman, the quiet, unobtrusive, thoughtful scholar, the devoted husband, frugal in his personal expenses, punctual and unwearied in his industry—and the soul of honor in all his transactions.
It is true, that later in life Poe had much of those morbid feelings which a life of poverty and disappointment is so apt to engender in the heart of man, the sense of having been ill-used, misunderstood, and put aside by men of far less ability, which preys upon the heart and clouds the brain of many a child of song.
We must remember, too, that the very organization of such a mind as that of Poe—the very tension and tone of his exquisitely strung nerves, the passionate yearnings of his soul for the beautiful and true, utterly unfitted him for the rude jostlings and fierce competitorship of trade.
His views of the duty of the critic were stern, and he felt that in praising an unworthy writer he committed dishonor. His pen was regulated by the highest sense of duty.
By a keen analysis he separated and studied each piece, which the skillful mechanist had put together. No part, however insignificant or apparently unimportant, escaped the rigid and patient scrutiny of his sagacious mind.
He had the finest touch of soul for beauty, a delicate and hearty appreciation of worth.
It was in the world of mind that he was king.
He was a worshipper of intellect, an expectant archangel of that high order of intellect, stepping out of himself, as it were, and interpreting the time he revelled in delicious luxury in a world beyond, with an audacity which we fear in madmen, but in genius worship as the inspiration of heaven.
I think I am warranted in saying to Mr. Griswold that he must review his decision. It will not stand the calm scrutiny of his own judgement, or of time, while it must be regarded by all the friends of Mr. Poe as an ill-judged and misplaced slander upon that gifted son of genius.
George R. Graham,
Publisher of Graham’s Magazine
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I have sometimes amused myself by endeavouring to fancy what would be the fate of an individual gifted, or rather accursed, with an intellect very far superior to that of his race. Of course, he would be conscious of his superiority; nor could he help manifesting his consciousness. Thus he would make himself enemies at all points. And since his opinions and speculations would widely differ from those of all mankind – that he would be considered a madman is evident. How horrible painful such a condition! Hell could invent no greater torture than that of being charged with abnormal weakness on account of being abnormally strong.
This subject is a painful one indeed. That individuals have so soared above the plane of their race is scarcely to be questioned; but, in looking back through history for traces of their existence, we should pass over all biographies of "the good and the great," while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows.
If any ambitious man have a fancy to revolutionize, at one effort, the universal world of human thought, human opinion, and human sentiment, the opportunity is his own – the road to immortal renown lies straight, open, and unencumbered before him. All that he has to do is to write and publish a very little book. Its title should be simple – a few plain words – "My Heart Laid Bare." But, this little book must be true to its title.
Now, is it not very singular that, with the rabid thirst for notoriety which distinguishes so many of mankind, so many, too, who care not a fig what is thought of them after death, there should not be found one man having sufficient hardihood to write this little book? To write, I say. There are ten thousand men who, if the book were once written, would laugh at the notion of being disturbed by its publication during their life, and who could not even conceive why they should object to its being published after their death. But to write it – there is the rub. No man dare write it. No man will ever dare write it. No man could write it, even if he dared. The paper would shrivel and blaze at every touch of the fiery pen.
N. P. WILLIS’ RESPONSE
The ancient fable of two antagonistic spirits imprisoned in one body equally powerful and having the complete mastery by turns of one man, that is to say, inhabited by both a devil and an angel, seems to have been realized, if all we hear is true, in the character of the extraordinary man whose name we have written above.
Our own impression of the nature of Edgar A. Poe differs in some important degree, however, from that which has been generally conveyed in the notices of his death.
Some four or five years since, when editing a daily paper in this city, Mr. Poe was employed by us, for several months, as critic and sub-editor. With the highest admiration for his genius, and a willingness to let it atone for more than ordinary irregularity, we were led by common report to expect a very capricious attention to his duties, and occasionally a scene of violence and difficulty. Time went on, however, and he was invariable punctual and industrious. With his pale, beautiful, and intellectual face as a reminder of what genius was in him, it was impossible, of course, not to treat him always with deferential courtesy. And to our occasional request that he would not probe too deep in a criticism, or that he would erase a passage colored too highly with his resentments against society and mankind, he readily and courteously assented—far more yielding than most men, we thought, on points so excusably sensitive.
With a prospect of taking the lead in another periodical, he at last voluntarily gave up his employment with us, and through all this considerable period we had seen but one presentment of the man—a quiet, patient, industrious, and most gentlemanly person, commanding the utmost respect and good feeling by his unvarying deportment and ability.
It was by rumor only, up to the day of his death, that we knew of any other development of manner or character. We heard, from one who knew him well, that with a single glass of wine, his whole nature was reversed, the demon became uppermost, and, though none of the usual signs of intoxication were visible, his will was palpably insane.
Possessing his reasoning faculties in excited activity at such times, and seeking his acquaintances with his wonted look and memory, he easily seemed personating only another phase of his natural character, and was accused, accordingly, of insulting arrogance and bad-heartedness. In this reversed character, we repeat, it was never our chance to see him. We know it from hearsay, and we mention it in connection with this sad infirmity of physical constitution, which puts it upon very nearly the ground of a temporary and almost irresponsible insanity.
The arrogance, vanity, and depravity of heart of which Mr. Poe was generally accused seem to us referable altogether to this reversed phase of his character. Under that degree of intoxication, which only acted upon him by demonizing his sense of truth and right, he doubtless said and did much that was wholly irreconcilable with his better nature. But when himself, and as we knew him only, his modesty and unaffected humility, as to his own deservings, were a constant charm to his character.
His letters sufficiently prove the existence of the very qualities denied to Mr. Poe—humility, willingness to persevere, belief in another’s kindness, and capability of cordial and grateful friendship! Such he assuredly was when sane. Such only he has invariably seemed to us, in all we have happened personally to know of him, through a friendship of five or six years.
And so much easier it is to believe what we have seen and known than what we hear of only.
That we remember him but with admiration and respect, these descriptions of him, when morally insane, seeming to us like portraits, painted in sickness, of a man we have only known in health.
N. P. Willis,
Editor of the New York Evening Mirror
The Home Journal, October 13, 1849
"The Death of Edgar A. Poe"
By N.P. Willis
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Literature is the most noble of professions. In fact, it is about the only one fit for a man. For my own part, there is no seducing me from the path. I shall be a litterateur, at least, all my life; not would I abandon the hopes which still lead me on for all the gold in California. Talking of gold, and of the temptations at present held out to "poor-devil authors," did it ever strike you that all which is really valuable to a man of letters, to a poet especially, is absolutely unpurchaseable? Love, fame, the dominion of intellect, the consciousness of power, the thrilling sense of beauty, the free air of Heaven, exercise of body and mind, with the physical and moral health which result, these and such as these are really all that a poet cares for. Then answer me this: why should he go to California?
That poets, including artists in general, are a genus irritable is well understood, but the why seems not to be commonly seen. An artist is an artist only by dint of his exquisite sense of Beauty – a sense affording him rapturous enjoyment, but at the same time implying, or involving, an equally exquisite sense of Deformity or disproportion. Thus a wrong – an injustice – done a poet who is really a poet, excites him to a degree which, to ordinary apprehension, appears disproportionate with the wrong. Poets see injustice – never where it does not exist – but very often where the unpoetic see no injustice whatever. Thus the poetical irritability has no reference to "temper" in the vulgar sense, but merely to a more than usual clear-sightedness in respect to Wrong, this clearsightedness being nothing more than a corollary from the vivid perception of Right, of justice, of proportion. But one thing is clear -–that the man who is not "irritable" is no poet.
"What a melancholy death is that of Mr. Poe, a man so richly endowed with genius! I never knew him personally, but have always entertained a high appreciation of his powers as a prose-writer and a poet. His prose is remarkably vigorous, direct and yet affluent; and his verse has a particular charm of melody, an atmosphere of true poetry about it, which is very winning. The harshness of his criticisms, I have never attributed to anything but the irritation of a sensitive nature, chafed by some indefinite sense of wrong."
Henry Wadworth Longfellow, poet
RUFUS GRISWOLD’S EULOGY
"The Ludwig Article"
New York Tribune (Evening Edition), October 9, 1849
Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it. The poet was well known personally or by reputation, in all this country. He had readers in England and in several states of Continental Europe. But he had few or no friends. The regrets for his death will be suggested principally by the consideration that in him literary art lost one of its most brilliant, but erratic stars.
The character of Mr. Poe we cannot attempt to describe in this very hastily written article. We can but allude to some of the more striking phases.
His conversation was at times almost supra-mortal in its eloquence. His voice was modulated with astonishing skill, and his large and variably expressive eyes looked repose or shot fiery tumult into theirs who listened, while his own face glowed or was changeless in pallor, as his imagination quickened his blood, or drew it back frozen to his heart. His imagery was from the worlds, which no mortal can see, but with the vision of genius.
He was at times a dreamer, dwelling in ideal realms, in heaven or hell, peopled with creations and the accidents of his brain. He walked the streets, in madness or melancholy, with lips moving in indistinct curses, or with eyes upturned in passionate prayers for the happiness of those who at that moment were objects of his idolatry, but never for himself, for he felt, or professed to feel, that he was already damned. He seemed, except when some fitful pursuit subjected his will and engrossed his faculties, always to bear the memory of some controlling sorrow.
He had made up his mind upon the numberless complexities of the social world and the whole system was with him an imposture. This conviction gave a direction to his shrewd and naturally unamiable character. Still though, he regarded society as composed of villains, the sharpness of his intellect was not of that kind which enabled him to cope with villainy, while it continually caused him overshots, to fail of the success of honesty.
Passion, in him, comprehended many of the worst emotions, which militate against human happiness. You could not contradict him, but you raised quick choler. You could not speak of wealth, but his cheek paled with gnawing envy. The astonishing natural advantage of this poor boy, his beauty, his readiness, the daring spirit that breathed around him like a fiery atmosphere, had raised his constitutional self-confidence into an arrogance that turned his very claims to admiration into prejudice against him. Irascible, envious, bad enough, but not the worst, for these salient angles were all varnished over with a cold repellant cynicism while his passions vented themselves in sneers. There seemed to him no moral susceptibility. And what was more remarkable in a proud nature, little or nothing of the true point of honor. He had, to a morbid excess, that desire to rise which is vulgarly called ambition, but no wish for the esteem or the love of his species, only the hard wish to succeed, not shine, not serve, but succeed, that he might have the right to despise a world which galled his self-conceit.
We must omit any particular criticism of Mr. Poe’s works. As a writer of tales it will be admitted generally, that he was scarcely surpassed in ingenuity of construction or effective painting.
As a critic, he was more remarkable as a dissector of sentences than as a commenter upon ideas. He was little better than a carping grammarian.
As a poet, he will retain a most honorable rank. Of his "Raven," Mr. Willis observes that in his opinion, "it is the most effective single example of fugitive poetry ever published in this country, and is unsurpassed in English poetry for subtle conceptions, masterly ingenuity of versification, and consistent sustaining of imaginative lift."
In poetry, as in prose, he was most successful in the metaphysical treatment of the passions. His poems are constructed with wonderful ingenuity, and finished with consummate art. They illustrate a morbid sensitiveness of feeling, a shadowy and gloomy imagination, and a taste almost faultless in the apprehension of that sort of beauty most agreeable to his temper.
We have not learned of the circumstance of his death. It was sudden, and from the fact that it occurred in Baltimore, it is presumed that he was on his return to New York.
"After life’s fitful fever, he sleeps well."
a.k.a. the Reverend Rufus W. Griswold,
the executor of Poe’s estate and his arch-enemy.
Monday, October 12, 2009
THE PREMATURE BURIAL
Edgar Allan Poe
For several years I had been subject to attacks of the singular disorder which physicians have agreed to term catalepsy. Sometimes the patient is saved from premature interment solely by the knowledge of his friends that he has been previously subject to catalepsy, by the consequent suspicion excited, and, above all, by the non-appearance of decay.
Sometimes, without any apparent cause, I sank, little by little, into a condition of half swoon; and, in this condition, without pain, without ability to stir, or, strictly speaking, to think, but with a dull lethargic consciousness of life and of the presence of those who surrounded my bed, I remained, until the crisis of the disease restored me, suddenly, to perfect sensation.
In all that I endured there was no physical suffering but of moral distress an infinitude. My fancy grew charnel, I talked "of worms, of tombs, and epitaphs." I was lost in reveries of death, and the idea of premature burial held continual possession of my brain. The ghastly Danger to which I was subjected haunted me day and night. It was with a struggle that I consented to sleep- for I shuddered to reflect that, upon awaking, I might find myself the tenant of a grave. And when, finally, I sank into slumber, it was only to rush at once into a world of phantasms, above which, with vast, sable, overshadowing wing, hovered, predominant, the one sepulchral Idea.
Phantasies such as these, presenting themselves at night, extended their terrific influence far into my waking hours. My nerves became thoroughly unstrung, and I fell a prey to perpetual horror. I hesitated to ride, or to walk, or to indulge in any exercise that would carry me from home. In fact, I no longer dared trust myself out of the immediate presence of those who were aware of my proneness to catalepsy, lest, falling into one of my usual fits, I should be buried before my real condition could be ascertained.
I entered into a series of elaborate precautions. Among other things, I had the family vault so remodelled as to admit of being readily opened from within. The slightest pressure upon a long lever that extended far into the tomb would cause the iron portal to fly back. There were arrangements also for the free admission of air and light, and convenient receptacles for food and water, within immediate reach of the coffin intended for my reception. This coffin was warmly and softly padded, and was provided with a lid, fashioned upon the principle of the vault-door, with the addition of springs so contrived that the feeblest movement of the body would be sufficient to set it at liberty. Besides all this, there was suspended from the roof of the tomb, a large bell, the rope of which, it was designed, should extend through a hole in the coffin, and so be fastened to one of the hands of the corpse. But, alas? what avails the vigilance against the Destiny of man? Not even these well-contrived securities sufficed to save from the uttermost agonies of living inhumation, a wretch to these agonies foredoomed!
There arrived an epoch- as often before there had arrived- in which I found myself emerging from total unconsciousness into the first feeble and indefinite sense of existence. Slowly- with a tortoise gradation- approached the faint gray dawn of the psychal day. A torpid uneasiness. An apathetic endurance of dull pain. No care- no hope- no effort. Then, after a long interval, a ringing in the ears; then, after a lapse still longer, a prickling or tingling sensation in the extremities; then a seemingly eternal period of pleasurable quiescence, during which the awakening feelings are struggling into thought; then a brief re-sinking into non-entity; then a sudden recovery. At length the slight quivering of an eyelid, and immediately thereupon, an electric shock of a terror, deadly and indefinite, which sends the blood in torrents from the temples to the heart. And now the first positive effort to think. And now the first endeavor to remember. And now a partial and evanescent success. And now the memory has so far regained its dominion, that, in some measure, I am cognizant of my state. I feel that I am not awaking from ordinary sleep. I recollect that I have been subject to catalepsy. And now, at last, as if by the rush of an ocean, my shuddering spirit is overwhelmed by the one grim Danger- by the one spectral and ever-prevalent idea.
For some minutes after this fancy possessed me, I remained without motion. And why? I could not summon courage to move. I dared not make the effort which was to satisfy me of my fate- and yet there was something at my heart which whispered me it was sure. Despair- such as no other species of wretchedness ever calls into being- despair alone urged me, after long irresolution, to uplift the heavy lids of my eyes. I uplifted them. It was dark- all dark. I knew that the fit was over. I knew that the crisis of my disorder had long passed. I knew that I had now fully recovered the use of my visual faculties- and yet it was dark- all dark- the intense and utter raylessness of the Night that endureth for evermore.
I endeavored to shriek-, and my lips and my parched tongue moved convulsively together in the attempt- but no voice issued from the cavernous lungs, which oppressed as if by the weight of some incumbent mountain, gasped and palpitated, with the heart, at every elaborate and struggling inspiration.
The movement of the jaws, in this effort to cry aloud, showed me that they were bound up, as is usual with the dead. I felt, too, that I lay upon some hard substance, and by something similar my sides were, also, closely compressed. So far, I had not ventured to stir any of my limbs- but now I violently threw up my arms, which had been lying at length, with the wrists crossed. They struck a solid wooden substance, which extended above my person at an elevation of not more than six inches from my face. I could no longer doubt that I reposed within a coffin at last.
And now, amid all my infinite miseries, came sweetly the cherub Hope- for I thought of my precautions. I writhed, and made spasmodic exertions to force open the lid: it would not move. I felt my wrists for the bell-rope: it was not to be found. And now the Comforter fled for ever, and a still sterner Despair reigned triumphant; for I could not help perceiving the absence of the paddings which I had so carefully prepared- and then, too, there came suddenly to my nostrils the strong peculiar odor of moist earth. The conclusion was irresistible. I was not within the vault. I had fallen into a trance while absent from home-while among strangers- when, or how, I could not remember- and it was they who had buried me as a dog- nailed up in some common coffin- and thrust deep, deep, and for ever, into some ordinary and nameless grave.
As this awful conviction forced itself, thus, into the innermost chambers of my soul, I once again struggled to cry aloud. And in this second endeavor I succeeded. A long, wild, and continuous shriek, or yell of agony, resounded through the realms of the subterranean Night.
"Hillo! hillo, there!" said a gruff voice, in reply.
"What the devil's the matter now!" said a second.
"Get out o' that!" said a third.
"What do you mean by yowling in that ere kind of style, like a cattymount?" said a fourth; and hereupon I was seized and shaken without ceremony, for several minutes, by a junto of very rough-looking individuals. They did not arouse me from my slumber- for I was wide awake when I screamed- but they restored me to the full possession of my memory.
This adventure occurred near Richmond, in Virginia. Accompanied by a friend, I had proceeded, upon a gunning expedition, some miles down the banks of the James River. Night approached, and we were overtaken by a storm. The cabin of a small sloop lying at anchor in the stream, and laden with garden mould, afforded us the only available shelter. We made the best of it, and passed the night on board. I slept in one of the only two berths in the vessel. That which I occupied had no bedding of any kind. Its extreme width was eighteen inches. The distance of its bottom from the deck overhead was precisely the same. I found it a matter of exceeding difficulty to squeeze myself in. Nevertheless, I slept soundly, and the whole of my vision- for it was no dream, and no nightmare- arose naturally from the circumstances of my position- from my ordinary bias of thought- and from the difficulty, to which I have alluded, of collecting my senses, and especially of regaining my memory, for a long time after awaking from slumber. The men who shook me were the crew of the sloop, and some laborers engaged to unload it. From the load itself came the earthly smell. The bandage about the jaws was a silk handkerchief in which I had bound up my head, in default of my customary nightcap.
The tortures endured, however, were indubitably quite equal for the time, to those of actual sepulture. They were fearfully- they were inconceivably hideous; but out of Evil proceeded Good; for their very excess wrought in my spirit an inevitable revulsion. My soul acquired tone- acquired temper. I went abroad. I took vigorous exercise. I breathed the free air of Heaven. I thought upon other subjects than Death. I discarded my medical books. "Buchan" I burned. I read no "Night Thoughts"- no fustian about churchyards- no bugaboo tales- such as this. In short, I became a new man, and lived a man's life. From that memorable night, I dismissed forever my charnel apprehensions, and with them vanished the cataleptic disorder, of which, perhaps, they had been less the consequence than the cause.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
ULALUME - A BALLAD
Edgar A. Poe
The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crisped and sere --
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year:
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir: --
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.
Here once, through an alley Titanic,
Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul --
Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.
There were days when my heart was volcanic
As the scoriac rivers that roll --
As the lavas that restlessly roll
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek,
In the ultimate climes of the Pole --
That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
In the realms of the Boreal Pole.
Our talk had been serious and sober,
But our thoughts they were palsied and sere --
Our memories were treacherous and sere;
For we knew not the month was October,
And we marked not the night of the year --
(Ah, night of all nights in the year!)
We noted not the dim lake of Auber,
(Though once we had journeyed down here)
We remembered not the dank tarn of Auber,
Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.
And now, as the night was senescent,
And star-dials pointed to morn --
As the star-dials hinted of morn --
At the end of our path a liquescent
And nebulous lustre was born,
Out of which a miraculous crescent
Arose with a duplicate horn --
Astarte's bediamonded crescent,
Distinct with its duplicate horn.
And I said -- "She is warmer than Dian:
She rolls through an ether of sighs --
She revels in a region of sighs.
She has seen that the tears are not dry on
These cheeks, where the worm never dies,
And has come past the stars of the Lion,
To point us the path to the skies --
To the Lethean peace of the skies --
Come up, in despite of the Lion,
To shine on us with her bright eyes --
Come up, through the lair of the Lion,
With love in her luminous eyes."
But Psyche, uplifting her finger,
Said -- "Sadly this star I mistrust --
Her pallor I strangely mistrust --
Ah, hasten! -- ah, let us not linger!
Ah, fly! -- let us fly! -- for we must."
In terror she spoke; letting sink her
Wings till they trailed in the dust --
In agony sobbed, letting sink her
Plumes till they trailed in the dust --
Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust.
I replied -- "This is nothing but dreaming.
Let us on, by this tremulous light!
Let us bathe in this crystalline light!
Its Sybillic splendor is beaming
With Hope and in Beauty to-night --
See! -- it flickers up the sky through the night!
Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming,
And be sure it will lead us aright --
We safely may trust to a gleaming
That cannot but guide us aright,
Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night."
Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,
And tempted her out of her gloom --
And conquered her scruples and gloom;
And we passed to the end of the vista --
But were stopped by the door of a tomb --
By the door of a legended tomb: --
And I said -- "What is written, sweet sister,
On the door of this legended tomb?"
She replied -- "Ulalume -- Ulalume --
'Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!"
Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
As the leaves that were crisped and sere --
As the leaves that were withering and sere --
And I cried -- "It was surely October
On this very night of last year,
That I journeyed -- I journeyed down here! --
That I brought a dread burden down here --
On this night, of all nights in the year,
Ah, what demon has tempted me here?
Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber --
This misty mid region of Weir: --
Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber --
This ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir."
Said we, then -- the two, then -- "Ah, can it
Have been that the woodlandish ghouls --
The pitiful, the merciful ghouls,
To bar up our way and to ban it
From the secret that lies in these wolds --
From the thing that lies hidden in these wolds --
Have drawn up the spectre of a planet
From the limbo of lunary souls --
This sinfully scintillant planet
From the Hell of the planetary souls?"
Saturday, October 10, 2009
COLONEL J. ALDEN WESTON,
EYEWITNESS TO POE’S FUNERAL
On a cold dismal October day, so different from the ordinary genial weather of that climate, I had just left my home when my attention was attracted to an approaching hearse, followed by hackney carriages, all of the plainest type. As I passed the little cortage some inscrutable impulse induced me to ask the driver of the hearse, "Whose funeral is this?" And to my intense surprise received for answer, "Mr. Poe, the poet." This being my first intimation of his death, which occurred at the hospital the previous day (Sunday) and was not generally known until after the funeral.
Immediately on this reply I turned about to the graveyard, a few blocks distant. On arrival there five or six gentlemen, including the officiating minister, descended from the carriages and followed the coffin to the grave, while I, as a simple onlooker, remained somewhat in the rear.
The burial ceremony, which did not occupy more than three minutes, was so cold-blooded and unchristianlike as to provoke on my part a sense of anger difficult to suppress. The only relative present was a cousin (a noted Baltimore lawyer), the remaining witnesses being from the hospital and the press.
After these had left I went to the grave and watched the earth being thrown upon the coffin until entirely covered. Then, I passed on with a sad heart and the one consolation that I was the last person to see the coffin containing all that was mortal of Edgar Allan Poe.
In justice to the people of Baltimore I must say that if the funeral had been postponed for a single day, until the death was generally known, a far more imposing escort to the tomb and one more worthy of the many admirers of the poet in the city would have taken place, and attended from Virginia and elsewhere.
Colonel J. Alden Weston,
The Baltimore Sun, March 1909
SPIRITS OF THE DEAD
Edgar Allan Poe
Thy soul shall find itself alone
'Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone —
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy:
Be silent in that solitude
Which is not loneliness — for then
The spirits of the dead who stood
In life before thee are again
In death around thee — and their will
Shall then overshadow thee: be still.
For the night — tho' clear — shall frown —
And the stars shall look not down,
From their high thrones in the Heaven,
With light like Hope to mortals given —
But their red orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee for ever :
Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish —
Now are visions ne'er to vanish —
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more — like dew-drop from the grass:
The breeze — the breath of God — is still —
And the mist upon the hill
Shadowy — shadowy — yet unbroken,
Is a symbol and a token —
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries! —
ELMIRA SHELTON TO MARIA CLEMM
October 11, 1849
Richmond, October 11th, 1849
My Dear Mrs. Clemm,
Oh, how shall I address you, my dear, and deeply afflicted friend under such heart-rending circumstances! I have no doubt, ere this, you have heard of the death of our dear Edgar! Yes, he was the dearest object on earth to me: and, well assured am I, that he was the pride of your heart.
I have not been able to get any of the particulars of his sickness and death, except an abstract from the Baltimore Sun, which said that he died on Sunday, the 7 th of this month, with congestion of the brain, after an illness of 7 days.
He came up to my house on the evening of the 26 th of September to take leave of me. He was very sad, and complained of being quite sick. I felt his pulse and found he had considerable fever, and did not think it probable he would be able to start the next morning (Thursday) as he anticipated. I felt so wretched about him all of that night, that I went up early next morning to inquire after him, when, much to my regret, he had left in the boat for Baltimore.
He expected certainly to have been with his "dear Muddy" on the Sunday following, when he promised to write to me. And after the expiration of a week, and no letter, I became very uneasy, and continued in an agonizing state of mind, fearing he was ill, but never dreamed of his death, until it met my eye in glancing casually over a Richmond paper of last Tuesday.
Oh, my dearest friend, I cannot begin to tell you what my feelings were, as the horrible truth forced itself upon me! It was the most severe trial I have ever had. And God alone knows how I can bear it. My heart is overwhelmed. Yes, ready to burst!
How can I, dear Muddy, speak comfort to your bleeding heart? I cannot say to you weep not, mourn not, but I do say, do both, for he is worthy to be lamented. Oh, my dear Edgar, shall I never behold your dear face and hear your sweet voice saying, "Dearest Muddy!" and "Dearest Elmira?" How can I bear the separation?
The pleasure I had anticipated on his return with you, dear friend, to Richmond was too great ever to be realized, and should teach me the folly of expecting bliss on earth. If it will be any consolation to you, my dear friend, to know that there is one who feels for you all that human can feel, then be assured that person is Elmira.
Willingly would I fly to you, if I could add to your comfort, or take from your sorrows. I wrote you a few weeks ago. I hope you received the letter. It was through the request of my dearest Eddy that I did so and when I told him I had written to you, his joy and delight were inexpressible.
I hope you will write to me as soon as possible and let me hear from you, as I shall be anxious about you incessantly until I do. Farewell, my stricken Friend, and may an All-Wise and Merciful God sustain and comfort us under this heart-breaking dispensation, is the fervent and hourly prayer of your afflicted and sympathizing friend.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Edgar A. Poe
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;--
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
She was a child and I was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love--
I and my Annabel Lee--
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud by night
Chilling my Annabel Lee;
So that her high-born kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me:--
Yes! that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of a cloud, chilling
And killing my Annabel Lee.
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 see 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 side of the sea.
NEILSON POE TO MARIA CLEMM
October 11, 1849
Baltimore, Oct. 11, 1849
My Dear Madam,
I would to God I could console you with the information that your dear son Edgar A. Poe is still among the living. The newspapers, in announcing his death, have only told a truth, which we may weep over and deplore, but cannot change. He died on Sunday morning, about 5 o’clock, at the Washington Medical College, where he had been since the Wednesday preceding. At what time he arrived in this city, where he spent the time he was here or under what circumstances, I have been unable to ascertain.
It appears that, on Wednesday, he was seen and recognized at one of the places of election in old town, and that his condition was such as to render it necessary to send him to the College, where he was tenderly nursed until the time of his death. As soon as I heard that he was at the College, I went over, but his physicians did not think it advisable that I should see him, as he was very excitable. The next day I called and sent him changes of linen and was gratified to learn that he was much better. And I was never so much shocked, in my life, as when, on Sunday morning, notice was sent to me that he was dead. Mr. Herring and myself immediately took the necessary steps for his funeral, which took place on Monday afternoon at four o’clock. He lies alongside his ancestors in the Presbyterian burial ground on Green Street.
I assure you, my dear madam, that, if I had known where a letter would reach you, I would have communicated the melancholy tidings in time to enable you to attend his funeral — but I was wholly unaware of how to address you. The body was followed to the grave by Mr. Herring, Dr. Snodgrass, Mr. Z. Collins Lee, and myself. The service was performed by the Reverend William T. D. Clemm, a son of James T. Clemm -- your distant relative. Mr. Herring and myself have sought, in vain, for the trunk and clothes of Edgar. There is reason to believe that he was robbed of them, whilst in such a condition as to render him insensible of his loss.
I shall not attempt the useless task of consoling you under such a bereavement. Edgar has seen so much of sorrow – had so little reason to be satisfied with life – that, to him, the change can scarcely be said to be a misfortune. If it leaves you lonely in this world of trouble, may I be allowed the friendly privilege of expressing the hope that, in the contemplation of all the world to which he has gone and to which we are all hastening, you will find consolations enduring and all sufficient. I shall be glad, at all times, to hear from you, and to alleviate, in every way in my power, the sorrows to which this dispensation may expose you. I only wish my ability was equal to my disposition.
My wife unites with me in expressions of sympathy.
Truly your friend and servant,
A DREAM WITHIN A DREAM
Edgar A. Poe
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow --
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand --
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep -- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
ANNIE RICHMOND TO MARIA CLEMM
October 10, 1849
October 10, 1849
Oh my mother, my darling, darling mother oh, what shall I say to you. How can I comfort you? Oh, mother, it seems more than I can bear and when I think of you, his mother, who has lost her all, I feel that it must not, no, it cannot be. Oh, if I could but see you. Do, I implore you, come to Annie soon as possible. Come, dear mother, and I will be indeed a daughter to you. Oh, if I could only have laid down my life for his that he might have been spared to you but mother it is the will of God, and we must submit. And Heaven grant us strength, to bear it. We shall soon meet the loved and lost to us here, in that blessed world where there are no partings. Your letter has this moment reached me, but I had seen a notice of his death, a few moments previous in the paper. Oh, mother, when I read it, I said, no, no, it is not true, my Eddie can’t be dead, no, it is not so. I could not believe it, until I got your letter. Even now, it seems impossible. For how can it be? How can I bear it? And, oh, how can his poor, poor mother bear it and live? Oh God, is it not too much, forgive me mother, but I cannot bear to submit without a murmur. I know it is wrong, but mother I cannot. Had my own been taken, I could have been reconciled and comforted, for I have kind parents, brother, and sister left, but he was her all. God, in mercy comfort and sustain her, for it is more than she can bear. Pardon me if I add one pang to your grief, dear mother, but my own heart is breaking, and I cannot offer you consolation that I would now. But mother, I will pray for you, and for myself, that I may be able to comfort you.
Mr. Richmond begs that you will come on here, soon as you can, and stay with us long as you please. Do, dear mother, gather up all his papers and books, and take them and come to your own Annie who will do everything in her power to make you comfortable and reconciled to the bitter lot Heaven has ordained for you. Do not deny me this privilege, dear mother, my heart will nearly break if you do not come. Write me if but one word, soon as you get this. The mail closes in 10 minutes. I must stop.
My darling, darling mother, God in heaven bless and sustain you, and bring you safely to your own.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
19th-century American Women--a museum in a blog: Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849): The Women in His Life
Edgar A. Poe
Thank Heaven! the crisis-
The danger is past,
And the lingering illness
Is over at last-
And the fever called "Living"
Is conquered at last.
Sadly, I know
I am shorn of my strength,
And no muscle I move
As I lie at full length-
But no matter!-I feel
I am better at length.
And I rest so composedly,
Now, in my bed
That any beholder
Might fancy me dead-
Might start at beholding me,
Thinking me dead.
The moaning and groaning,
The sighing and sobbing,
Are quieted now,
With that horrible throbbing
At heart:- ah, that horrible,
The sickness- the nausea-
The pitiless pain-
Have ceased, with the fever
That maddened my brain-
With the fever called "Living"
That burned in my brain.
And oh! of all tortures
That torture the worst
Has abated- the terrible
Torture of thirst
For the naphthaline river
Of Passion accurst:-
I have drunk of a water
That quenches all thirst:-
Of a water that flows,
With a lullaby sound,
From a spring but a very few
Feet under ground-
From a cavern not very far
Down under ground.
And ah! let it never
Be foolishly said
That my room it is gloomy
And narrow my bed;
For man never slept
In a different bed-
And, to sleep, you must slumber
In just such a bed.
My tantalized spirit
Here blandly reposes,
Forgetting, or never
Regretting its roses-
Its old agitations
Of myrtles and roses:
For now, while so quietly
Lying, it fancies
A holier odor
About it, of pansies-
A rosemary odor,
Commingled with pansies-
With rue and the beautiful
And so it lies happily,
Bathing in many
A dream of the truth
And the beauty of Annie-
Drowned in a bath
Of the tresses of Annie.
She tenderly kissed me,
She fondly caressed,
And then I fell gently
To sleep on her breast-
Deeply to sleep
From the heaven of her breast.
When the light was extinguished,
She covered me warm,
And she prayed to the angels
To keep me from harm-
To the queen of the angels
To shield me from harm.
And I lie so composedly,
Now, in my bed,
(Knowing her love)
That you fancy me dead-
And I rest so contentedly,
Now, in my bed,
(With her love at my breast)
That you fancy me dead-
That you shudder to look at me,
Thinking me dead.
But my heart it is brighter
Than all of the many
Stars in the sky,
For it sparkles with Annie-
It glows with the light
Of the love of my Annie-
With the thought of the light
Of the eyes of my Annie.