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Thursday, January 19, 2012

INFLUENCES: EDGAR ALLAN POE

Edgar Allan Poe was born January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. Even 203 years after his birth he is still a major influence on popular culture. Very few American writers are considered as influential and recognizable except for maybe a handful of writers including Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and John Steinbeck. As a writer, teacher and lover of literature myself, I hold Poe above all others as both a major influence on my life, my writing and even my own personal philosophy. Having discovered Poe at an early age I was instantly captivated by both his stories and poems. His tales of the macabre, murder, and mystery appealed to me in a very strange way and I craved more. While many people may have their favorite story such as his most famous "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Pit and the Pendulum", "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and my personal favorite "The Black Cat" or even his poems like "A Dream Within A Dream", "The Bells" and the popular favorite "The Raven". One poem in particular, although short, appealed to me in a very special way as it reflected much of the same feelings I had felt growing up and even still feel today. The poem was "Alone"...

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were — I have not seen
As others saw — I could not bring
My passions from a common spring —
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow — I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone —
And all I lov'd — I lov'd alone —
Then — in my childhood — in the dawn
Of a most stormy life — was drawn
From ev'ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still —
From the torrent, or the fountain —
From the red cliff of the mountain —
From the sun that 'round me roll'd
In its autumn tint of gold —
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass'd me flying by —
From the thunder, and the storm —
And the cloud that took the form
When the rest of Heaven was blue
Of a demon in my view.


Edgar Allan Poe died on October 7, 1849 in Baltimore, Maryland, penniless and alone. Even the cause of his death is a mystery itself. If not for his writings and the efforts of devoted readers, he would not have been remembered. Even today his legacy lives on as new readers discover his work in schools, libraries and on the Internet. His tales have been adapted in movies, animation, comic books and games over the years. His life and works are still celebrated today such as on the anniversary of his birth in Baltimore, Maryland. The Poe House and Museum sponsors the annual Poe Bicentennial, wherein I had the fortunate privilege to experience the 201st Celebration in 2010 (See my past blog entry: 2010 Edgar Allan Poe Bicentennial Birthday Celebration). Although the famous "Poe Toaster", a mysterious figure who would appear at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe in Baltimore for over 60 years finally stopped after 2009, the 200th anniversary of his birth, the Poe Society still carries on the tradition of celebrating his birth. This year will see the release of another tribute to Poe in the new movie The Raven starring John Cusack as Poe, in a fictitious story about a serial killer who mimics the murders in Poe's stories. As a devoted Poe fan, I am looking froward to this movie in the hopes it will maybe spark new interest in Poe.

"Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality." - Edgar Allan Poe