Monday, January 19, 2009

Edgar Allen Poe's Bicentennial

Today is the bicentennial of Edgar Allen Poe's birth.

Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809, and died on October 7, 1849. He was an American poet, short-story writer, editor and literary critic, and writer of tales of mystery and the macabre. He is considered the father of the modern detective story and the psychological thriller.

Poe's grave in Westminster Hall Cemetery, Baltimore Maryland

One of my favorite poems by Poe is "Dream Within A Dream," which reflects the sad story of his life, where he lost almost everyone he loved to an early death...his parents, his brother, his young wife.

A Dream Within A Dream

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?

Poe's mature life was spent mostly in the cities of Baltimore, Richmond, and New York, as a writer and editor on a number of newspapers and magazines. Despite suffering from poverty, alcoholism and nervous breakdowns, he was always a hard worker and prolific writer.

One of his most famous poems and the one that brought him fame in his lifetime was "The Raven," but it did not bring him fortune, as he only earned fourteen dollars for publishing it in the New York Evening Mirror. You can hear an audio of it being read aloud at the Internet Archive here. There is a blog about Poe's Bicentennial at this link that has many interesting links to explore.

Although he lived a short and tragic life, Edgar Allan Poe remains today one of the most-beloved mystery writers in history. Happy birthday to one of my favorite authors!
ETA: 1 /23/09
2009 Edgar Allan Poe Award NomineesMystery Writers of America (MWA) has announced the nominees for 2009 Edgar Allan Poe Awards.
Here are the nominees for the Best Novel and Best First Novel categories.
Best Novel:
Missing by Karin Alvtegen (Felony & Mayhem Press)
Blue Heaven by C.J. Box (St. Martin's Minotaur)
Sins of the Assassin by Robert Ferrigno (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)
The Price of Blood by Declan Hughes (HarperCollins - William Morrow)
The Night Following by Morag Joss (Random House - Delacorte Press)
Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster)
Best First Novel by an American Author:
The Kind One by Tom Epperson (Five Star, div of Cengage)
Sweetsmoke by David Fuller (Hyperion)
The Foreigner by Francie Lin (Picador)
Calumet City by Charlie Newton (Simon & Schuster - Touchstone)
A Cure for Night by Justin Peacock (Random House - Doubleday)
You can see the complete list of nominees in all categories here on the MWA's website.


Jojo said...

How nice to be reminded of Poe. I haven't thought about The Raven or Poe since high school. I remember reading The Cask of Amontillado and seeing The Pit and the Pendulum. I was scared to death! Do kids these days still read Poe in school? I had never read Dream Within A Dream.

Anonymous said...

I like Poe writings. I have to thank a professor in high school for letting us read his poems even if it wasn't a school assignement back then (or in my daughter time as well) and it was a nice surprise to me and my companions.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

I didn't know that about his loved ones, Pat. Having lost several family members at a young age, it makes it more poignant to me. Thanks for sharing.

When I was in high school, we had to do an English class project using one of our favorite poems, and I chose "The Raven." I decided to mold the "pallid bust of Pallas." I used a wig head covered in modeling clay, and my boyfriend at the time (who was very talented) molded his ears and nose. Then I used one of my father's best blackbird decoys as the raven! That stanza of the poem was decoupaged onto a piece of wood. When the teacher didn't return the project, my father was none too pleased, but I got an A. :-)

Thanks for sharing...



Catherine said...

Thank you Pat for a wonderful post. Poe is also a favorite of mine.

Arlene Delloro said...

What a wonderful post! A former English teacher, I taught Poe in my American Authors' classes as well as studied him in depth. A tragic life indeed, as many of the best writers could sadly boast. Thank you for reminding me of one of his lesser-known, but well written poems.

Unknown said...

Thank you for the information Pat, I would love to read his books one day.

Unknown said...

I really didn't know much about him, so this was very educational to me!

Thanks for the lesson!

Have you got snow today?

Anonymous said...

The Washington Post just ran an article Poe and his life, as well as where to go in Baltimore to see his home and and grave.

Poe is my one of my oldest son's favorite writers. I would like to take my boys up to Baltimore this month for the Bicentennial and to learn more about this amazing writer.

Thanks for the interesting information :-)

Anonymous said...

Another wonderful post, Pat! I enjoyed reading about Poe and the poem, of course!

Bo said...

Fascinating post today, Pat. I had never read this beautiful poem...
he was a tormented talent, wasn't he? ;-) Bo

RoeH said...

Hey....thanks for dropping by my blog. I LOVE meeting new people. And I'm not sure how i can say I l.o.v.e Edgar Allen Poe, but I do. I watched and read all his creepy stories and I still like him. He certainly was the 19th century Stephen King. Boy. What would we get if those two mind could be put together. I'm for it.

Great blog you have. Thanks.

Junie Moon said...

Poe is a favorite at our house. My husband loves his works so much that he placed a fake stuffed raven on top of our hanging pot rack in the kitchen about 6 years ago and insists we leave it up year round. He's nicknamed the raven "Edgar". I wonder if Poe's annual visitor made it to leave offerings on the author's grave? I'll have to check and see. Thanks for the links, I'll pop over to visit and listen to the recording.

Strider said...

I always thought Poe's stuff was a little least for me. I read in the paper today that it was not only Poe's birthday, but Robert E. Lee's. Only he was born 2 years earlier. Blessings on a great week.

Barb said...

Hi dear Pat,

First of all, congrats on your precious little grandson. What a charmer. He is adorable!
Happy new year too.

I have missed visiting your blog. I always learn so many interesting things. I remember reading Poe in school. What a sad life he had. I had no idea.


Vee said...

It's interesting to note that he was just forty when he died. That photo of him looks to be of a man much older and he may have been younger when that was taken. That poem is good and I'm sure that it speaks eloquently of despair...sounds about right, in fact. I'm so glad that we can have a faith beyond that "dream within a dream."

One of my favorite stories to teach...way back in the day, was "The Tell-Tale Heart." I thought it so perfectly described guilt.

nonizamboni said...

I had just earlier been looking deep into that photo of Poe--nicely done post and a poem I had forgotten...
Is it therefore the less gone?
Thanks & happy Monday!

Donna said...

Great post, Pat!! I can remember my mom reciting "The Raven" when she was alive. She used to recite a lot of LONG poems. That was how they learned in those days - memorization and reciting... That little grandson of yours is soooo cute!!... Donna @ An Enchanted Cottage

Judy said...

How nice to be reminded of Poe...and learn a little about the man. I just realized we share a birthday...there's not a whole lot of us born on January 19.

steviewren said...

I've never read this poem before today, although I have heard the refrain about life being a dream within a dream. How sad his life was and how this poem reflects his despair. Some people have such a hard burden to bear.

Tara said...


Great writer but he doesn't look like the happiest chap! Love the new widget!!

nanatrish said...

I have always enjoyed his work. I can relate to him....I have huge bags under my eyes. Bless his heart. He was a great talent!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

He was really one of a kind, and very enjoyable to read. My favourite has always been Annabel Lee.

Lorrie said...

Hi Pat, I enjoyed this post. A number of years ago I helped chaparone an 8th grade trip for my daughter's class from NC to Washington DC/Baltimore and we visited Poe's grave in Baltimore and learned all about him.

Cynthia said...

Just passing by to say hello and wish you and the family all the best for the new year!

Nihal said...

Hello from sunny and bright clear Istanbul to you, Pat:)

I just wanted to come here to give a few of my insights abt your comment left on my most recent post.

Well.. What I should say first is that you are wrong. Listen:

YES, terrorism is peace's enemy. If it's so, you should give all your fighting against terrorism, right? Yes, it should be done so.

Here's a very good example:
As Turkey, we are. Terrorism is also our problem for yrs and yrs, and Turkish forces have NOT killed any Iraqi people, 'any innocent people in Iraq. But they are targeting only abt terror group.

What does Israel???

Does everything to destroy peace!

Of course, Israel has a duty to protect its citizens from attack and terrorism. But this should not be killing the innocent, because that's the worst thing!

Aren't we all human being? Aren't we want peace? But it can never be achieved killing the innocent civilians. However we see Israel has always found, and finds an excuse to invade and kill innocent!

And, the current picture looks like more than fighting against terror by Israel.

I wonder if Israel has bigger plans in the Middle East..?

I hope NOT!

Anonymous said...

Pat, I love this post, and I have always been intrigued by Edgar Allen Poe.

I know it seems typical, but my favorite is Annabelle Lee. The sadness is overwhelming, and I believe he is writing reflective of his own life.

Anonymous said...

I read his tales of "Mystery and Imagination" as a teen. I heard the Alan Parson's Project do "The Raven". Loved the rhythms of the poem.