Friday, October 26, 2012

"The Coliseum" Published 1833

The Coliseum (1833)
by Edgar Allan Poe

Type of the antique Rome! Rich reliquary
Of lofty contemplation left to Time
By buried centuries of pomp and power!
At length- at length- after so many days
Of weary pilgrimage and burning thirst,
(Thirst for the springs of lore that in thee lie,)
I kneel, an altered and an humble man,
Amid thy shadows, and so drink within
My very soul thy grandeur, gloom, and glory!

Vastness! and Age! and Memories of Eld!
Silence! and Desolation! and dim Night!
I feel ye now- I feel ye in your strength-
O spells more sure than e'er Judaean king
Taught in the gardens of Gethsemane!
O charms more potent than the rapt Chaldee
Ever drew down from out the quiet stars!

Here, where a hero fell, a column falls!
Here, where the mimic eagle glared in gold,
A midnight vigil holds the swarthy bat!
Here, where the dames of Rome their gilded hair
Waved to the wind, now wave the reed and thistle!
Here, where on golden throne the monarch lolled,
Glides, spectre-like, unto his marble home,
Lit by the wan light of the horned moon,
The swift and silent lizard of the stones!

But stay! these walls- these ivy-clad arcades-
These moldering plinths- these sad and blackened shafts-
These vague entablatures- this crumbling frieze-
These shattered cornices- this wreck- this ruin-
These stones- alas! these grey stones- are they all-
All of the famed, and the colossal left
By the corrosive Hours to Fate and me?

"Not all"- the Echoes answer me- "not all!
Prophetic sounds and loud, arise forever
From us, and from all Ruin, unto the wise,
As melody from Memnon to the Sun.
We rule the hearts of mightiest men- we rule
With a despotic sway all giant minds.
We are not impotent- we pallid stones.
Not all our power is gone- not all our fame-
Not all the magic of our high renown-
Not all the wonder that encircles us-
Not all the mysteries that in us lie-
Not all the memories that hang upon
And cling around about us as a garment,
Clothing us in a robe of more than glory."

"The Coliseum" explores Rome as a past glory that still exists in imagination. Poe submitted the poem to a contest sponsored by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, which offered a prize of $25 to the winner. The judges chose a poem submitted by editor John Hill Hewitt under the pseudonym "Henry Wilton." Poe was outraged by what he considered nepotism. Hewitt later claimed that the two had a fistfight in the streets of Baltimore, though no evidence proves the event.

Despite the controversy, "The Coliseum" was published by the Visiter in its October 26, 1833, issue. It was later incorporated into Poe's unfinished drama Politian.

In a July 1844 letter to fellow author James Russell Lowell, Poe put "The Coliseum" as one of his six best poems.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Deathday: John Sartain 1897 Poe Friend & Publisher

John Sartain (October 24, 1808 - October 25, 1897) was an editor, publisher, and an artist who pioneered mezzotint engraving in the United States.


John Sartain was born in London, England on October 24, 1808. At the age of twenty-two he emigrated to the United States and settled in Philadelphia. Early in his career he painted portraits in oil and made miniatures. He engraved plates in 1841-1848 for Graham's Magazine, published by George Rex Graham (1813-1894), and believed his work was responsible for the publication's sudden success.[1] Sartain became editor and proprietor of Campbell's Foreign Semi-Monthly Magazine in 1843 and from 1849-1852 published with Graham Sartain's Union Magazine.

Sartain was a colleague and friend of Edgar Allan Poe. Around July 2, 1849, about four months before Poe's death, the author unexpectedly visited Sartain's house in Philadelphia. Looking "pale and haggard" with "a wild and frightened expression in his eyes", Poe told Sartain that he was being pursued and needed protection; Sartain worried he was suicidal.[2] Poe asked for a razor so that he could shave off his moustache to become less recognizable. Sartain offered to cut it off himself using scissors.[3] Poe had said he had overheard people while on the train who were conspiring to murder him. Sartain asked why anyone would want to kill him, Poe answered it was "a woman trouble."[2] Poe gave Sartain a new poem, "The Bells", which was published in Sartain's Union Magazine in November 1849, a month after Poe's death.[4] Sartain's also included the first authorized printing of "Annabel Lee", also posthumous.[5]

Sartain had charge of the art department of the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, in 1876; took a prominent part in the work of the committee on the Washington Memorial, by Rudolf Siemering, in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia; designed medallions for the monument to George Washington and Lafayette erected in 1869 in Monument Cemetery, Philadelphia. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and a cavaliere of the Royal Equestrian Order of the Crown of Italy.

His Reminiscences of a Very Old Man (New York, 1899) are of unusual interest. Of his children William Sartain (1843-1924), landscape and figure painter, was born at Philadelphia on the 21st of November 1843, studied under his father and under Leon Bonnat, Paris, was one of the founders of the Society of American Artists, and became an associate of the National Academy of Design. Another son, Samuel Sartain (1830-1906), and a daughter, Emily Sartain (1841-1927), who in 1886 became principal of the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, were also American artists.


1.^ Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998: 330. ISBN 0801857309.
2.^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991: 416. ISBN 0060923318.
3.^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992: 246. ISBN 0815410387.
4.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York: Checkmark Books, 2001: 25. ISBN 081604161X.
5.^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992: 244. ISBN 0815410387
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Friday, October 19, 2012

"MS Found in a Bottle" Published 1833

"MS. Found in a Bottle" is a short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe. The plot follows an unnamed narrator at sea who finds himself in a series of harrowing circumstances. As he nears his own disastrous death while his ship drives ever southward, he writes an "MS." or manuscript telling of his adventures which he casts into the sea. Some critics believe the story was meant as a satire of typical sea tales.

Poe submitted "MS. Found in a Bottle" as one of many entries to a writing contest offered by the weekly Baltimore Saturday Visiter. Each of the stories were well-liked by the judges but they unanimously chose "MS. Found in a Bottle" as the contest's winner, earning Poe a $50 prize. The story was then published in the October 19, 1833, issue of the Visiter.

Plot summary

In Poe's tale, an unnamed narrator, estranged from his family and country, sets sail as a passenger aboard a cargo ship from Batavia (now known as Jakarta, Indonesia). Some days into the voyage, the ship is first becalmed then hit by a Simoon—which, in Poe's story, is a combination of a sand storm, typhoon, and hurricane—that capsizes the ship and sends everyone, except the narrator and an old Swede, overboard. Driven southward by the magical Simoon towards the South Pole, the narrator's ship eventually collides with a gigantic black galleon, and only the narrator manages to scramble aboard. Once the new ship arrives, the narrator finds outdated maps and useless navigational tools throughout the ship. Also, he finds it to be manned by elderly crewmen who are unable to see him; he steals writing materials from the captain's cabin to keep a journal (the "manuscript" of the title) which he resolves to cast into the sea. This ship too continues to be driven southward, and he notices the crew appears to show signs of hope at the prospect of their destruction as it reaches Antarctica. The ship enters a clearing in the ice where it is caught in a vast whirlpool and begins to sink into the sea.


"MS. Found in a Bottle" is one of Poe's sea tales, which also include "A Descent into the Maelström" and "The Oblong Box". The story's horror comes from its scientific imaginings and its description of a physical world beyond the limits of human exploration. It emphasizes ideas, calling the reader back to the introduction of the story, in which the narrator announces his allegiance to realism. That realism is lost with the descent into the whirlpool, as, presumably, is the narrator's life.

Poe biographer Kenneth Silverman says that the story is "a sustained crescendo of ever-building dread in the face of ever-stranger and ever-more-imminent catastrophe".[1] This prospect of unknown catastrophe both horrifies and stimulates the narrator.[2] Like Poe's narrator in another early work, "Berenice", the narrator in "MS. Found in a Bottle" lives predominantly through his books, more accurately, his manuscripts.[3]

Some scholars suggest that "MS. Found in a Bottle" was meant to be a parody or satire of sea stories, especially because of the absurdity of the plot and the fact that the narrator unrealistically kept a diary through it all.[4] The other tales that Poe wrote during this time period, including "Bon-Bon", were meant to be humorous or, as Poe wrote, "burlesques upon criticism generally".[5] William Bittner, for example, wrote that it was poking fun specifically at Jane Porter's novel Sir Edward Seaward's Narrative (1831) or Smyzonia (1820) by the pseudonymous "Captain Adam Seaborn" (possibly John Cleves Symmes, Jr.).[4]

Critical reception

The editors who first published "MS. Found in a Bottle" called it "eminently distinguished by a wild, vigorous and poetical imagination, a rich style, a fertile invention, and varied and curious learning."[6] Writer Joseph Conrad considered the story "about as fine as anything of that kind can be—so authentic in detail that it might have been told by a sailor of sombre and poetical genius in the invention of the fantastic".[6] Poe scholar Scott Peeples summarizes the importance of "MS. Found in a Bottle" as "the story that launched Poe's career".[7]

The story was likely an influence on Herman Melville and bears a similarity to his novel Moby-Dick. As scholar Jack Scherting noted:

Two well-known works of American fiction fit the following description. Composed in the 19th century each is an account of an observant, first-person narrator who, prompted by a nervous restlessness, went to sea only to find himself aboard an ill-fated ship. The ship, manned by a strange crew and under the command of a strange, awesome captain, is destroyed in an improbable catastrophe; and were it not for the fortuitous recovery of a floating vessel and its freight, the narrative of the disastrous voyage would never have reached the public. The two works are, of course, Melville's Moby-Dick (1851) and Poe's "MS. Found in a Bottle" (1833), and the correspondences are in some respects so close as to suggest a causal rather than a coincidental relationship between the two tales.[8]

Publication history

In the June 15, 1833, issue of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, its publishers Charles F. Cloud and William L. Pouder announced prizes of "50 dollars for the best Tale and 25 dollars for the best poem, not exceeding one hundred lines," submitted by October 1, 1833. Poe submitted "MS. Found in a Bottle" along with five others. The judges—John Pendleton Kennedy, Dr. James Henry Miller and John H. B. Latrobe—met at the house of Latrobe on October 7[9] and unanimously selected Poe's tale for the prize. The award was announced in the October 12 issue, and the tale was printed in the following issue on October 19, with the remark: "The following is the Tale to which the Premium of Fifty Dollars has been awarded by the Committee. It will be found highly graphic in its style of Composition."[10] Poe's poetry submission, "The Coliseum", was published a few days later, but did not win the prize.[11] The poetry winner turned out to be the editor of the Visiter, John H. Hewitt, using the pseudonym "Henry Wilton". Poe was outraged and suggested the contest was rigged. Hewitt claimed, decades later in 1885, that Poe and Hewitt brawled in the streets because of the contest, though the fight is not verified.[12] Poe believed his own poem was the actual winner, a fact which Latrobe later substantiated.[13]

Kennedy was particularly supportive of Poe's fledgling career and gave him work for the Visiter after the contest.[14] He assisting in getting "MS. Found in a Bottle" reprinted in an annual gift book called the Gift in its 1836 issue.[15] Kennedy also urged Poe to collect the stories he submitted to the contest, including "MS. Found in a Bottle", into one edition and contacted publisher Carey & Lea on his behalf.[16] A plan was made to publish the stories as a volume called Tales of the Folio Club and the Saturday Visiter promoted it by issuing a call for subscribers to purchase the book in October 1833 for $1 apiece.[17] The "Folio Club" was intended to be a fictitious literary society the author called a group of "dunderheads" out to "abolish literature".[18] The idea was similar in some respects to The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. At each monthly meeting, a member would present a story. A week after the Visiter issued its advertisement, however, the newspaper announced that the author had withdrawn the pieces with the expectation they would be printed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[19] Publishers Harper and Brothers were offered the collection but rejected it, saying that readers wanted long narratives and novels, inspiring Poe to write The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, another sea tale.[20]

After its first publication, "MS. Found in a Bottle" was almost immediately pirated by the People's Advocate of Newburyport, Massachusetts, which published it without permission on October 26, 1833.[14]


1.^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York City: Harper Perennial, 1991: 91. ISBN 0-06-092331-8
2.^ Stashower, Daniel. The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder. New York: Dutton, 2006: 65. ISBN 0-525-94981-X
3.^ Peeples, Scott. Edgar Allan Poe Revisited. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1998: 50. ISBN 0-8057-4572-6
4.^ Bittner, William. Poe: A Biography. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1962: 90.
5.^ Peeples, Scott. Edgar Allan Poe Revisited. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1998: 32. ISBN 0-8057-4572-6
6.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York City: Checkmark Books, 2001: 162. ISBN 081604161X
7.^ Peeples, Scott. Edgar Allan Poe Revisited. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1998: 46. ISBN 0-8057-4572-6
8.^ Scherting, Jack. "The Bottle and the Coffin: Further Speculation on Poe and Moby-Dick", Poe Newsletter, vol. I, no. 2, October 1968: 22.
9.^ Thomas, Dwight and David K. Jackson. The Poe Log: A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe, 1809–1849. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1987: 130. ISBN 0816187347
10.^ Thomas, Dwight and David K. Jackson. The Poe Log: A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe, 1809–1849. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1987: 133. ISBN 0816187347
11.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. Checkmark Books, 2001.
12.^ Poe, Harry Lee. Edgar Allan Poe: An Illustrated Companion to His Tell-Tale Stories. New York: Metro Books, 2008: 55. ISBN 978-1-4351-0469-3
13.^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992: 65. ISBN 0-8154-1038-7
14.^ Thomas, Dwight and David K. Jackson. The Poe Log: A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe, 1809–1849. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1987: 135. ISBN 0816187347
15.^ Benton, Richard P. "The Tales: 1831–1835", A Companion to Poe Studies, Eric W. Carlson, ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996: 111. ISBN 0-313-26506-2
16.^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York City: Harper Perennial, 1991: 93. ISBN 0-06-092331-8
17.^ Thomas, Dwight and David K. Jackson. The Poe Log: A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe, 1809–1849. Boston: G. K. Hall and Co., 1987: 134. ISBN 0816187347
18.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York City: Checkmark Books, 2001: 88. ISBN 081604161X
19.^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York City: Harper Perennial, 1991: 92–93. ISBN 0-06-092331-8
20.^ Peeples, Scott. Edgar Allan Poe Revisited. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1998: 56. ISBN 0-8057-4572-6

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Google Celebrates Moby Dick 161st Anniversary

"Moby-Dick; or, The Whale: Publishing history" - Melville Society. "First British edition (entitled The Whale), expurgated to avoid offending delicate political and moral sensibilities, published in three volumes on October 18, 1851 by Richard Bentley, London. First American edition published November 14, 1851 by Harper & Brothers, New York."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"To Helen" Published 1848

To Helen

by Edgar Allan Poe

This poem was written for Sarah Helen Whitman.

I saw thee once- once only- years ago;
I must not say how many- but not many.
It was a July midnight; and from out
A full-orbed moon, that, like thine own soul, soaring,
Sought a precipitate pathway up through heaven,
There fell a silvery-silken veil of light,
With quietude, and sultriness, and slumber,
Upon the upturned faces of a thousand
Roses that grew in an enchanted garden,
Where no wind dared to stir, unless on tiptoe-
Fell on the upturn'd faces of these roses
That gave out, in return for the love-light,
Their odorous souls in an ecstatic death-
Fell on the upturn'd faces of these roses
That smiled and died in this parterre, enchanted
By thee, and by the poetry of thy presence.

Clad all in white, upon a violet bank
I saw thee half reclining; while the moon
Fell on the upturn'd faces of the roses,
And on thine own, upturn'd- alas, in sorrow!

Was it not Fate, that, on this July midnight-
Was it not Fate, (whose name is also Sorrow,)
That bade me pause before that garden-gate,
To breathe the incense of those slumbering roses?
No footstep stirred: the hated world all slept,
Save only thee and me. (Oh, Heaven!- oh, God!
How my heart beats in coupling those two words!)
Save only thee and me. I paused- I looked-
And in an instant all things disappeared.
(Ah, bear in mind this garden was enchanted!)

The pearly lustre of the moon went out:
The mossy banks and the meandering paths,
The happy flowers and the repining trees,
Were seen no more: the very roses' odors
Died in the arms of the adoring airs.
All- all expired save thee- save less than thou:
Save only the divine light in thine eyes-
Save but the soul in thine uplifted eyes.
I saw but them- they were the world to me!
I saw but them- saw only them for hours,
Saw only them until the moon went down.
What wild heart-histories seemed to lie enwritten
Upon those crystalline, celestial spheres!
How dark a woe, yet how sublime a hope!
How silently serene a sea of pride!
How daring an ambition; yet how deep-
How fathomless a capacity for love!

But now, at length, dear Dian sank from sight,
Into a western couch of thunder-cloud;
And thou, a ghost, amid the entombing trees
Didst glide away. Only thine eyes remained;
They would not go- they never yet have gone;
Lighting my lonely pathway home that night,
They have not left me (as my hopes have) since;
They follow me- they lead me through the years.
They are my ministers- yet I their slave.
Their office is to illumine and enkindle-
My duty, to be saved by their bright light,
And purified in their electric fire,
And sanctified in their elysian fire.
They fill my soul with Beauty (which is Hope),
And are far up in Heaven- the stars I kneel to
In the sad, silent watches of my night;
While even in the meridian glare of day
I see them still- two sweetly scintillant
Venuses, unextinguished by the sun!

To Helen (1848)

The original manuscript was sent to Sarah Helen Whitman in 1848. It was published as "To —— —— ——" in the Union Magazine's November issue that year. It became the second of Poe's "To Helen" poems when published as "To Helen" in the October 10, 1849 issue of the New York Daily Tribune.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"Annabelle Lee" Published 1849

"Annabel Lee" is the last complete poem[1] composed by American author Edgar Allan Poe. Like many of Poe's poems, it explores the theme of the death of a beautiful woman.[2] The narrator, who fell in love with Annabel Lee when they were young, has a love for her so strong that even angels are jealous. He retains his love for her even after her death. There has been debate over who, if anyone, was the inspiration for "Annabel Lee." Though many women have been suggested, Poe's wife Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe is one of the more credible candidates. Written in 1849, it was not published until shortly after Poe's death that same year.


The poem's narrator describes his love for Annabel Lee, which began many years ago in an unnamed "kingdom by the sea." Though they were young, their love for one another burned with such an intensity that angels became jealous. For that reason, the narrator believes, the angels caused her death. Even so, their love is strong enough that it extends beyond the grave and the narrator believes their two souls are still entwined. Every night, he dreams of Annabel Lee and sees the brightness of her eyes in the stars. He admits that every night he lies down by her side in her tomb by the sea.


Like many other Poe poems including "The Raven", "Ulalume", and "To One in Paradise", "Annabel Lee" follows Poe's favorite theme: the death of a beautiful woman,[2] which Poe called "the most poetical topic in the world".[3] Also like women in many other works by Poe, she is struck with illness and marries young.[4] The poem focuses on an ideal love which is unusually strong. In fact, the narrator's actions show that he not only loves Annabel Lee, but he worships her, something he can only do after her death.[5] The narrator admits that he and Annabel Lee were both children when they fell in love, but his explanation that angels murdered her is in itself childish, suggesting he has not grown up much since then.[6] His repetition of this assertion suggests he is trying to rationalize his own excessive feelings of loss.[6]

Unlike "The Raven", in which the narrator believes he will "nevermore" be reunited with his love, "Annabel Lee" says the two will be together again, as not even demons "can ever dissever" their souls.

The poem has been described containing "shades of necrophilia."[7]

Poetic structure

"Annabel Lee" consists of six stanzas, three with six lines, one with seven, and two with eight, with the rhyme pattern differing slightly in each one.[2] Though it is not technically a ballad, Poe referred to it as one.[8] Like a ballad, the poem utilizes repetition of words and phrases purposely to create its mournful effect.[2] The name Annabel Lee emphasizes the letter "L", a frequent device in Poe's female characters such as "Eulalie", "Lenore", and "Ulalume".[9]

There is debate on the last line of the poem. The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, Maryland has identified 11 different versions of the poem that were published between 1849 and 1850.[10] However, the biggest variation is in the final line:

Original manuscript – In her tomb by the side of the sea
Alternative version – In her tomb by the sounding sea


Poe's wife Virginia is often assumed to be the inspiration for "Annabel Lee".It is unclear to whom the eponymous character Annabel Lee is referring.[11] Biographers and critics often suggest Poe's frequent use of the "death of a beautiful woman" theme stems from the repeated loss of women throughout his own life, including his mother Eliza Poe and his foster mother Frances Allan.[12] Biographers often interpret that "Annabel Lee" was written for Poe's wife Virginia, who had died two years prior, as was suggested by poet Frances Sargent Osgood, though Osgood is herself a candidate for the poem's inspiration.[11] A strong case can be made for Poe's wife Virginia: she was the one he loved as a child, and the only one that had been his bride, and the only one that had died.[13] Autobiographical readings of the poem have also been used to support the theory that Virginia and Poe never consummated their marriage, as "Annabel Lee" was a "maiden".[14] Critics, including T.O. Mabbott, believed that Annabel Lee was merely the product of Poe's gloomy imagination and that Annabel Lee was no real person in particular. A childhood sweetheart of Poe's named Sarah Elmira Royster believed the poem was written with her in mind[15] and that Poe himself said so.[16] Sarah Helen Whitman and Sarah Anna Lewis also claimed to have inspired the poem.[17]

Local legend in Charleston, South Carolina tells the story of a sailor who met a woman named Annabel Lee. Her father disapproved of the pairing and the two met privately in a graveyard before the sailor's time stationed in Charleston was up. While away, he heard of Annabel's death from yellow fever, but her father would not allow him at the funeral. Because he did not know her exact burial location, he instead kept vigil in the cemetery where they had often secretly met. There is no evidence that Edgar Allan Poe had heard of this legend, but locals insist it was his inspiration, especially considering Poe was briefly stationed in Charleston while in the army in 1827.[18]

Publication history and reception

"Annabel Lee" was likely composed in May 1849.[17] Poe took steps to ensure the poem would be seen in print. He gave a copy to Rufus Wilmot Griswold, his literary executor and personal rival, gave another copy to John Thompson to repay a $5 debt, and sold a copy to Sartain's Union Magazine for publication.[13] Though Sartain's was the first authorized printing in January 1850, Griswold was the first to publish it on October 9, 1849, two days after Poe's death as part of his obituary of Poe in the New York Daily Tribune. Thompson had it published in the Southern Literary Messenger in November 1849.[13]

"Annabel Lee" was an inspiration for Vladimir Nabokov, especially for his novel Lolita (1955), in which the narrator, as a child, falls in love with the terminally ill Annabel Leigh "in a princedom by the sea". Originally, Nabokov titled the novel The Kingdom by the Sea.[19] Nabokov would later use this as the title of the Lolita "doppelganger novel" in Look at the Harlequins!

Annabelle Lee (1849)

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.

I was a child and she 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, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen 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 the cloud by night,
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 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.


2.^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992. p. 243. ISBN 0815410387
3.^ Poe, Edgar A. "The Philosophy of Composition" (1846).
4.^ Weekes, Karen. "Poe's feminine ideal", collected in The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Kevin J. Hayes. Cambridge University Press, 2002. p. 152. ISBN 0521797276
5.^ Hoffman, Daniel. Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1972. p. 68. ISBN 0807123218
6.^ Empric, Julienne H. "A Note on 'Annabel Lee'", collected in Poe Studies. Volume VI, Number 1 (June 1973). p. 26.
7.^ Michael Coren, The man in the mask; Books, The Sunday Times ; Nov 1, 1992
8.^ Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998: 606. ISBN 0801857309
9.^ Kopley, Richard and Kevin J. Hayes. "Two verse masterworks: 'The Raven' and 'Ulalume'", as collected in The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Kevin J. Hayes. Cambridge University Press, 2002: 200. ISBN 0521797276
10.^ "Annabel Lee" - List of texts and variant texts at the Edgar Allan Poe Society online
11.^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991. p. 401. ISBN 0060923318
12.^ Weekes, Karen. "Poe's feminine ideal", collected in The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Kevin J. Hayes. Cambridge University Press, 2002. p. 149. ISBN 0521797276
13.^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992. p. 244. ISBN 0815410387
14.^ Hoffman, Daniel. Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1972. p. 27. ISBN 0807123218
16.^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991. p. 426. ISBN 0060923318
17.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. Checkmark Books, 2001. p. 12. ISBN 081604161X
18.^ Crawford, Tom. "The Ghost by the Sea". Retrieved May 14, 2008.
19.^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992. p. 302. ISBN 0815410387

Monday, October 8, 2012

Poe Forward's POE FUNERAL Commemoration 1999

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Death of Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) Poe Forward presented POE FUNERAL at the Midnight Special Bookstore in Santa Monica on Halloween 1999. The FUNERAL DIRECTOR was Brian Aldrich and the FUNERAL PRODUCER was David Delgado. The audience was SRO. The full program listing is on our website at This is the funeral Poe never had.

Edgar A. Poe's Funeral 1849

Poe's funeral was a simple one, held at 4 p.m. on Monday, October 8, 1849. Few people attended the ceremony. Poe's uncle, Henry Herring, provided a simple mahogany coffin, and a cousin, Neilson Poe, supplied the hearse. Moran's wife made his shroud. The funeral was presided over by the Reverend W. T. D. Clemm, cousin of Poe's wife, Virginia. Also in attendance were Dr. Snodgrass, Baltimore lawyer and former University of Virginia classmate Zaccheus Collins Lee, Poe's first cousin Elizabeth Herring and her husband, and former schoolmaster Joseph Clarke. The entire ceremony lasted only three minutes in the cold, damp weather. Reverend Clemm decided not to bother with a sermon because the crowd was too small. Sexton George W. Spence wrote of the weather: "It was a dark and gloomy day, not raining but just kind of raw and threatening." Poe was buried in a cheap coffin that lacked handles, a nameplate, cloth lining, or a cushion for his head.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Edgar A. Poe Dies in Baltimore Hospital 1849

The death of Edgar Allan Poe on October 7, 1849, has remained mysterious: the circumstances leading up to it are uncertain and the cause of death is disputed. On October 3, Poe was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, Maryland, "in great distress, and ... in need of immediate assistance," according to the man who found him, Joseph W. Walker. He was taken to the Washington College Hospital, where he died at 5 a.m. on Sunday, October 7. Poe was never coherent enough to explain how he came to be in this condition.

Much of the extant information about the last few days of Poe's life comes from his attending physician, Dr. John Joseph Moran, though his credibility is questionable. Poe was buried after a small funeral at the back of Westminster Hall and Burying Ground, but his remains were moved to a new grave with a larger monument in 1875. It has been questioned whether the correct corpse was moved. The 1875 monument also marks the burial place of Poe's wife, Virginia, and his mother-in-law, Maria. Theories as to what caused Poe's death include suicide, murder, cholera, rabies, syphilis, influenza, and that Poe was a victim of cooping. Evidence of the influence of alcohol is strongly disputed.

After Poe's death, Rufus Wilmot Griswold wrote his obituary under the pseudonym "Ludwig." Griswold, who became the literary executor of Poe's estate, was actually a rival of Poe and later published his first full biography, depicting him as a depraved, drunk, drug-addled madman. Much of the evidence for this image of Poe is believed to have been forged by Griswold, and though friends of Poe denounced it, this interpretation had lasting impact.

All medical records and documents, including Poe's death certificate, have been lost, if they ever existed. The precise cause of Poe's death is disputed, but many theories exist. Many biographers have addressed the issue and reached different conclusions, ranging from Jeffrey Meyers's assertion that it was hypoglycemia to John Evangelist Walsh's conspiratorial murder plot theory. It has also been suggested that Poe's death might have resulted from suicide related to depression. In 1848, he nearly died from an overdose of laudanum, readily available as a tranquilizer and pain killer. Though it is unclear if this was a true suicide attempt or just a miscalculation on Poe's part, it did not lead to Poe's death a year later.

Snodgrass was convinced that Poe died from alcoholism and did a great deal to popularize this idea. He was a supporter of the temperance movement and found Poe a useful example in his temperance work. However, Snodgrass's writings on the topic have been proven untrustworthy. Moran contradicted Snodgrass by stating in his own 1885 account that Poe did not die under the effect of any intoxicant. Moran claimed that Poe "had not the slightest odor of liquor upon his breath or person." Even so, some newspapers at the time reported Poe's death as "congestion of the brain" or "cerebral inflammation," euphemisms for deaths from disgraceful causes such as alcoholism. In a study of Poe, a psychologist suggested that Poe had dipsomania, a condition that causes frequent seizures that lead to excesses, often alcoholic, during which the victim cannot remember what has happened to him or her.

However, Poe's characterization as an uncontrollable alcoholic is disputed. His drinking companion for a time, Thomas Mayne Reid, admitted that the two engaged in wild "frolics" but that Poe "never went beyond the innocent mirth in which we all indulge... While acknowledging this as one of Poe's failings, I can speak truly of its not being habitual." Some believe Poe had a severe susceptibility to alcohol and became drunk after one glass of wine. He only drank during difficult periods of his life and sometimes went several months at a time without alcohol. Adding further confusion about the frequency of Poe's use of alcohol was his membership in the Sons of Temperance at the time of his death. William Glenn, who administered Poe's pledge, wrote years later that the temperance community had no reason to believe Poe had violated his pledge while in Richmond. Suggestions of a drug overdose have also been proven to be untrue, though it is still often reported. Thomas Dunn English, an admitted enemy of Poe and a trained doctor, insisted that Poe was not a drug user. He wrote: "Had Poe the opium habit when I knew him (before 1846) I should both as a physician and a man of observation, have discovered it during his frequent visits to my rooms, my visits at his house, and our meetings elsewhere – I saw no signs of it and believe the charge to be a baseless slander."

Numerous other causes of death have been proposed over the years, including several forms of rare brain disease or a brain tumor, diabetes, various types of enzyme deficiency, syphilis, apoplexy, delirium tremens, epilepsy and meningeal inflammation. A doctor named John W. Francis examined Poe in May 1848 and believed Poe had heart disease, which Poe later denied. A 2006 test of a sample of Poe's hair provides evidence against the possibility of lead poisoning, mercury poisoning, and similar toxic heavy-metal exposures. Cholera has also been suggested. Poe had passed through Philadelphia in early 1849 during a cholera epidemic. He got sick during his time in the city and wrote a letter to his aunt, Maria Clemm, saying that he may "have had the cholera, or spasms quite as bad."

Because Poe was found on the day of an election, it was suggested as early as 1872 that he was the victim of cooping. This was a ballot-box-stuffing scam in which victims were shanghaied, drugged, and used as a pawn to vote for a political party at multiple locations. Cooping had become the standard explanation for Poe's death in most of his biographies for several decades, though his status in Baltimore may have made him too recognizable for this scam to have worked. More recently, credible evidence that Poe's death resulted from rabies has been presented.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Edgar A. Poe Found Delirious 1849

On September 27, 1849, Poe left Richmond, Virginia, on his way home to New York. No reliable evidence exists about Poe's whereabouts until a week later on October 3, when he was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, outside Ryan's Tavern (sometimes referred to as Gunner's Hall). A printer named Joseph W. Walker sent a letter requesting help from an acquaintance of Poe, Dr. Joseph E. Snodgrass. His letter reads:

“Dear Sir—There is a gentleman, rather the worse for wear, at Ryan's 4th ward polls, who goes under the cognomen of Edgar A. Poe, and who appears in great distress, and he says he is acquainted with you, and I assure you, he is in need of immediate assistance.

Yours, in haste, Jos. W. Walker”

Snodgrass later claimed the note said that Poe was "in a state of beastly intoxication," but the original letter proves otherwise.

Snodgrass's first-hand account describes Poe's appearance as "repulsive," with unkempt hair, a haggard, unwashed face and "lusterless and vacant" eyes. His clothing, Snodgrass said, which included a dirty shirt but no vest and unpolished shoes, was worn and did not fit well. Dr. John Joseph Moran, who was Poe's attending physician, gives his own detailed account of Poe's appearance that day: "a stained faded, old bombazine coat, pantaloons of a similar character, a pair of worn-out shoes run down at the heels, and an old straw hat." Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in this condition, and it is believed the clothes he was wearing were not his own, not least because wearing shabby clothes was out of character for Poe.

Moran cared for Poe at the for-profit Washington College Hospital on Broadway and Fayette Street. He was denied any visitors and was confined in a prison-like room with barred windows in a section of the building reserved for drunk people. Poe is said to have repeatedly called out the name "Reynolds" on the night before his death, though no one has ever been able to identify the person to whom he referred. One possibility is that he was recalling an encounter with Jeremiah N. Reynolds, a newspaper editor and explorer who may have inspired the novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Another possibility is Henry R. Reynolds, one of the judges overseeing the Fourth Ward Polls at Ryan's Tavern, who may have met Poe on Election Day. Poe may have instead been calling for "Herring," as the author had an uncle-in-law in Baltimore named Henry Herring. In fact, in later testimonies Moran avoided reference to Reynolds but mentioned a visit by a "Misses Herring." He also claimed he attempted to cheer Poe up during one of the few times Poe was awake. When Moran told his patient that he would soon be enjoying the company of friends, Poe allegedly replied that "the best thing his friend could do would be to blow out his brains with a pistol."

In Poe's distressed state, he made reference to a wife in Richmond. He may have been hallucinating, thinking that his wife, Virginia, was still alive, or he may have been referring to Sarah Elmira Royster, to whom he had recently proposed. He did not know what had happened to his trunk of belongings which, it transpired, had been left behind at the Swan Tavern in Richmond. Moran reported that Poe's final words were "Lord, help my poor soul" before dying on October 7, 1849.

Monday, October 1, 2012

"William Wilson" Published 1839

"William Wilson" is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1839, with a setting inspired by Poe's formative years outside of London. The tale follows the theme of the doppelgänger and is written in a style based on rationality. It also appeared in the 1840 collection Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, and has been adapted several times.

Plot summary

The story begins with the narrator, a man of "a noble descent" who calls himself William Wilson, denouncing his profligate past, although he does not accept blame for his actions, saying that "man was never thus [...] tempted before." After several paragraphs, the narration then segues into a description of Wilson's boyhood, which was spent in a "large, rambling Elizabethan" schoolhouse, "in a misty-looking village of England." The house was huge, with many jumbled paths and rooms, and situated on extensive grounds; the students were kept on site perpetually, however, hemmed in by a fence surmounted by broken glass, only being released for short, guided walks and church service.

William describes meeting another boy who shared the same name, who had roughly the same appearance, and who was even born on exactly the same date — January 19 (which was also Poe's birthday). The other William represents his only competition in academics, sports, and popularity. The boy seemed to compete with him so easily, however, that William thinks it "a proof of his true superiority; since not to be overcome, cost me a perpetual struggle." William's name (he asserts that his actual name is only similar to "William Wilson") embarrasses him because it sounds "plebeian" or common, and he is irked that he must hear the name twice as much on account of the other William.

The boy gradually begins copying William's mannerisms, dress and talk; although, by a "constitutional defect," he could only speak in a whisper, he imitates that whisper exactly. He begins giving William advice of an unspecified nature, which he refuses to heed, resenting the boy's "arrogance." One night he stole into the other William's bedroom and saw that the boy's face had suddenly become exactly like his own. Upon seeing this, William left the academy immediately, only to discover that his double left on the same day.

William eventually attends Eton and Oxford, gradually becoming more debauched and performing what he terms "mischief." For example, he steals exorbitant amounts of money from a poor nobleman by cheating him at cards and trying to seduce a married woman. At each stage, his double eventually appears, his face always covered, whispers a few words sufficient to alert others to William's behavior, and leaves with no others seeing his face. After the last of these incidents, at a ball in Rome, William drags his "unresisting" double—who was wearing identical clothes—into an antechamber, and stabs him fatally.

After William does this, a large mirror suddenly seems to appear. Reflected at him, he sees "mine own image, but with features all pale and dabbled in blood": apparently the dead double, "but he spoke no longer in a whisper". The narrator feels as if he is pronouncing the words: "In me didst thou exist—and in my death, see [...] how utterly thou hast murdered thyself."


The setting of "William Wilson" is semi-autobiographical and relates to Poe's residence in England as a boy. The "misty-looking village of England" of the story is Stoke Newington, now a suburb of north London. The school is based on the Manor House School in Stoke Newington which Poe attended from 1817 to 1820. Poe's headmaster there, the Reverend John Bransby, shares the same name as the headmaster in the story, though, in the latter, he acquires the dignity of being a "Doctor."[1] This school has since been demolished. The church mentioned in the story is based on St Mary's "Old" Church, the original parish church of Stoke Newington. This building is still extant.

Additionally, Poe acknowledged that the idea of a story about the irritation one feels by meeting someone with the same name, thereby ruining a feeling of uniqueness, was inspired by an article by Washington Irving. At the end of Irving's tale, the main character kills his double with his sword, only to see his own face behind the mask.[2]


"William Wilson" clearly explores the theme of the double. This second self haunts the protagonist and leads him to insanity and also represents his own insanity.[3] According to Poe biographer, Arthur Hobson Quinn, the second self represents the conscience.[4] This division of the self is reinforced by the narrator's admission that "William Wilson" is actually a pseudonym. The name itself is an interesting choice: "son" of "will." In other words, William Wilson has willed himself into being along with the double which shares that name.[5]

Poe wrote the story very carefully and with subtlety. Sentences are balanced, with very few adjectives, and there is little concrete imagery beyond the description of Wilson's school. Pacing is purposely set as leisurely and measured using a formal style and longer sentences. Rather than creating a poetic effect or mood, as Poe recommends in "The Philosophy of Composition," Poe is creating a tale based on rationality and logic.[6]

Publication history

"William Wilson" was published in the October 1839 issue of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, though it appeared earlier that year in The Gift: A Christmas and New Year's Present dated for 1840.[7] The tale was later translated into French in December 1844, printed in the Paris newspaper La Quotidienne in two installments. This was the first translation of Poe's work to a language other than English and marked Poe's introduction to France.[8]

Critical reception

When Poe wrote to Washington Irving asking for a word of endorsement, he specifically requested a response to "William Wilson," calling it "my best effort."[9] Irving responded, "It is managed in a highly picturesque Style and the Singular and Mysterious interest is well sustained throughout."[10] Thomas Mann said of Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Double: A Petersburg Poem, which explores a similar doppelgänger theme, "by no means improved on Edgar Allan Poe's 'William Wilson,' a tale that deals with the same old romantic motif in a way far more profound on the moral side and more successfully resolving the critical [theme] in the poetic."[3]


In 1913, "William Wilson" was freely adapted into The Student of Prague, a German film directed by Stellan Rye. A 1926 version was also made in Germany and directed by Henrik Galeen and starred Conrad Veidt. A third German adaptation, made in 1935, was directed by Arthur Robison and starred Anton Walbrook. In 1943, "William Wilson" was adapted as a radio play for The Weird Circle on the Mutual Broadcasting System.[11] A French-Italian collaboration came out in 1968 called Spirits of the Dead or Histoires extraordinaires. The film is composed of three vignettes, directed by Roger Vadim, Louis Malle and Federico Fellini and starring Jane Fonda, Peter Fonda, and Terence Stamp.[12] The other two segments adapt Poe's "Metzengerstein" and "Never Bet the Devil Your Head."


1.^ Quinn, Arthur Hobson Quinn. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998: 75.
2.^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York City: Harper Perennial, 1991: 149–150. ISBN 0060923318
3.^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992: 287. ISBN 0815410387
4.^ Quinn, Arthur Hobson Quinn. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998: 286–287.
5.^ Hoffman, Daniel. Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1972. p. 209. ISBN 0807123218
6.^ Stauffer, Donald Barlow. "Style and Meaning in 'Ligeia' and 'William Wilson'", from Twentieth Century Interpretations of Poe's Tales, edited by William L. Howarth. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1971: 82.
7.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York: Checkmark Books, 2001: 256. ISBN 081604161X
8.^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York City: Harper Perennial, 1991: 233. ISBN 0060923318
9.^ Neimeyer, Mark. "Poe and Popular Culture", collected in The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe. Cambridge University Press, 2002: 207. ISBN 0521797276
10.^ Jones, Brian Jay. Washington Irving: An American Original. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2008: 334. ISBN 978-1-55970836-4
11.^ Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs: The Weird Circle
12.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York City: Checkmark Books, 2001: 256–257. ISBN 081604161X