Poe’s Funeral Is Today. Again.

Poor misunderstood Edgar Allan Poe. This year is the 200th anniversary of his birth and there have been a number of events at Poe places. One such event occurs today.

160 years ago, Edgar Allen Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was found delirious outside a Baltimore tavern. He never explained what had happened to him in the week that had passed since he had left Richmond, Virginia. He was in the hospital for 4 days but died. He was 40.


Poe’s body was dug up in 1875 to move it and it was mostly skeletal remains then, so a Baltimore special-effects artist (Eric Supensky) created a deathlike mock-up of Poe’s corpse.

They had the “body” lying in state on Wednesday at the tiny Poe House in west Baltimore. Then there was an all-night vigil at Poe’s grave at Westminster Burying Ground. Anyone who attends will have the opportunity to deliver a tribute.

This morning, a horse-drawn carriage will take the body from his former home to the graveyard for a proper funeral that he didn’t get 160 years ago.

Actor John Astin (Yes, he was Gomez on TV’s The Addams Family) will serve as master of ceremonies. Astin has played Poe for quite a few years in a one-man show.

I have been to that cemetery to pay my literary respects. I never made it into the Poe House in Baltimore. (Closed twice and it’s in a tough neighborhood.) And I have wanted to knock a few toasts down at the bar in which we think Poe was last seen drinking before his death. That is in Fells Point, Baltimore. It’s called The Horse You Came In On these days. It’s on Thames Street right near the docks.

There are no childhood homes of Poe still standing. The oldest existing home in Richmond is used as the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, but Poe never lived there.

I visited last year the dorm room Poe is believed to have used while studying at the University of Virginia in 1826.  And you could pay your respects today at the place he rented in Philadelphia, The Spring Garden home, which is part of the National Park Service’s Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site, or in Boston near where Poe was born at 62 Carver Street (now Charles Street).

Across the river from Paradelle is Poe’s final home – the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage in the Bronx, New York.

Fewer than 10 people attended Poe’s actual funeral. Pretty lousy for one of the 19th century’s greatest writers.

Herman Melville, who I feel is the better writer, didn’t get much better treatment. By the end of the 1840s Melville was among the most celebrated of American writers, yet his death evoked only one obituary notice. Melville died at home, of a heart attack, September 28, 1891. He was seventy-two years old and his last novel, The Confidence-Man, had been published more than 30 years earlier.

Modern criticism revived their reputations to that of great American writers again.

“Ye who read are still among the living, but I who write shall have long since gone my way into the region of shadows.  For indeed strange things shall happen, and many secret things be known, and many centuries shall pass away, ere these memorials be seen of men. And, when seen, there will be some to disbelieve, and some to doubt, and yet a few who will find much to ponder upon in the characters here graven with a stylus of iron.”

from Edgar Allan Poe’s “Shadow — a Parable” (1835)

more on Poe’s 200th


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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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