There are some things in life that cannot be described. Despite how much you try, in the end you will say that “I missed this” or «I missed that” and you will try writing down again and again the same thing by trying to add all those information that you have forgotten to mention.
Edgar Allan Poe is such a “thing”. A great poet to some, a greater storywriter for another, but amongst all a fabulous personality. An awesome personality that you will always forget to mention things in almost every article you’ll try to write about him.
E. A. Poe was born on January 19th, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts and died on October 7th, 1849 after he was found on the streets of Baltimore, Maryland and taken to the Washington Medical College. Even though he is considered as a poet, E. A. Poe was a literary critic, an author as well as an editor.
Most of us got to know E. A. Poe by his poems, especially by his “The
He is also considered to be the beginner of a new literature genre which was later named “Mystery & Detective Fiction”. Apart from all of the above mentioned, it is of great interest to say that E. A. Poe was a part of the Romantic Movement that occurred in America by the time of his life.
His early life was a disastrous one as his father left the family in 1810, when Edgar was 1 years old, and his mother died on 1811. Although he was never adopted formally, he passed his first years, until his adulthood, with John and Frances Allan. Due to financial problems and tensions between Edgar and John, young Edgar never attended a secondary education (he only attended one semester at the University of Virginia).
One other thing that we may miss about Poe‘s life, is his military service in the United States Army and this is due to the name that he used in his military career. Edgar Alan Perry was that name and by the time that he enlisted in an army service he claimed to be 22 years old although he was just 18. After gaining the highest rank he could achieve, he finally left the Army on April 15th, 1829 after 2 years of military service.
By that time he had already published “Tamerlane and Other Poems”, a collection of poems in 40 pages – he signed that book not by his name but with the byline “By a Bostonian” – and received no attention at all.
His second attempt of publishing poetry was by the “Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems” in 1829 and in 1831 he publishes his third book by the simple title “Poems”, which was founded by his former army fellow’s.
E. A. Poe is one of the first Americans known for his try to make a living out of his writings only. He attempted poetry, but after his first, not so successful attempts, he turned his complete attention to writing prose.After publishing some of his short stories with a Philadelphia publication, he began working on his own and only drama. Its title was “Politian”.
“Politian” was composed in 1835 but never completed. It is based on the true story of the murder of Solomon P. Sharp by Jereboam O. Beauchamp in Kentucky in 1825.
“MS. Found in a Bottle”, a short story, Poe wrote, was his first prize awarded story by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter. “MS. Found in a Bottle” is a story written in 1833 and its plot is about a storyteller, that remains anonymous, though, and that he finds himself at sea into a chain of dreadful situations.
After the story draw the attention of John P. Kennedy, Poe was presented to Thomas M. White and became the assistant editor of the Southern Literary Messenger, that Thomas White was the editor, in Richmond. He was discharged, though two weeks later, after his boss found him drunk.
In the same year E. A. Poe returned to Baltimore and on the 22nd of December he married his cousin Virginia in secret. He was 13 years older than her. She was only 13 years old, although in their wedding documentation she is listed to be 21. Virginia Clemm was meant to be his public wife after he returned to the Southern Literary Messenger (reinstated by White once again with the promise of good behavior), as he married her in Richmond on the 16th of May 1836. From 1835 to 1837, he stayed in the magazine, increased its selling numbers (from 700 to 3500) and published several poems, stories, book reviews and criticisms.
In 1838, Poe writes and publishes his first and only complete novel. Its title was “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket” and its plot is about a young man, named Arthur Gordon Pym and his adventures during his sea travels. The novel was published in July of 1838, but many previously footage of the novel was published in the Southern Literary Messenger. After the publication of the novel, Poe found himself as the assistant editor of another magazine. The Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, a literary magazine in Philadelphia, where essays, stories, poems and articles were published. E. A. Poe published a lot of poems, articles, reviews as well as critiques in the Burton’s Magazine, launching and increasing his status as an incisive critic he had previously gained.
“Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque”, a collection of Poe’s previously published short stories, was also published the same year (1839). Again after this publication Poe found himself in a different magazine. Graham’s Magazine was this time, and again he was the assistant.
The Stylus was meant to be Poe’s own Journal (originally named The Penn, as it was meant to be based in Pennsylvania), but was never released (only after his death), although he had already bought promotion space in the Saturday Evening Post (issue June 6, 1840) for his “Prospectus of the Penn Magazine, a Monthly Literary journal to be edited and published in the city of Philadelphia by Edgar A. Poe.”
In January 1942, Virginia got ill and Poe began to drink even more than he used to, under the worry of Virginia’s sickness. At this time, he settled back to New York, and after working for a short time at the Evening Mirror, he found an editor position at the Broadway Journal, which later owned. On January 3rd, 1846, the Broadway Journal published its last issue with the following written by E. A. Poe:
Unsuspected engagements demanding my whole attention, and the objects being unfulfilled so far as regards myself personally, for which the Broadway Journal was established, I now, as its editor, bid farewell – as cordially to foes as to friends. -Edgar A. Poe ( Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York: Checkmark Books, 2001: 34. ISBN 0-8160-4161-X)
After the death of Virginia on January 30th 1847, and after Poe’s two more publications – “The Raven” which appeared in the Evening Mirror and in The American Review: A Whig Journal under the pseudonym “Quarles” – Poe tried his luck with women two more times. The first was with the poet Sarah Helen Whitman (January 19, 1803 – June 27, 1878) and the second with his childhood love Sarah Elmira Royster.
E. A. Poe died on October 3rd, 1849. His Gothic and Dark Romantic poems and stories will keep on living though in his beloved readers’ minds, hearts and souls.
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 mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness 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 again I heard 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 a minute 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
But the Raven still beguiling my sad fancy 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 lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!
Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose 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!
—Edgar Allan Poe
(Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore – Works – Poems – The Raven”. Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore. December 28, 2007.)
By Georgios Rachiotis