It’s with some pleasure and some trepidation that we welcome a literary enigma wrapped in a riddle. Born January 19, 1809, just a month before Abraham Lincoln, in Boston, Massachusetts, Edgar Allan Poe invented detective fiction. A poet and prose writer known for the macabre, Poe showed that life imitates fiction when he died October 3, 1849 mysteriously in Baltimore Maryland.
So let’s lay to rest why roses are put on your gravesite!
Villains! I shrieked, dissemble no more! I admit the deed! — tear up the planks! — here, here! — it is the beating of his hideous heart!
(The Tell-Tale Heart; 1843)
What do you do in your spare time up there?
Man is an animal that diddles, and there is no animal that diddles but man. (“Diddling: Considered As One Of The Exact Sciences"; first published as "Raising the Wind" in Saturday Courier. 1843-10-14)
So there have been a few changes since you mysteriously disappeared. Let’s get your thoughts on some of them? Cell phones?
Keeping time, time, time
In a sort of Runic rhyme
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells
(The Bells; 1849)
And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all. (The Masque of the Red Death; 1842)
While the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy Man,
And its hero the Conqueror Worm.
(Ligeia (l. 38–40). . . Complete Poems and Selected Essays [Edgar Allan Poe]. Richard Gray, ed. (1993) Everyman)
The best chess-player in Christendom may be little more than the best player of chess; but proficiency in whist implies capacity for success in all these more important undertakings where mind struggles with mind. (The Murders in the Rue Morgue; 1841)
Taking ten pills a day in old age?
They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. (Eleonora;1841)
Let’s try a few topical issues. Conspiracy theorists?
Coincidences, in general, are great stumbling blocks in the way of that class of thinkers who have been educated to know nothing of the theory of probabilities- that theory to which the most glorious objects of human research are indebted for the most glorious of illustration. (Murders in the Rue Morgue)
Convinced myself, I seek not to convince
The Jersey Shore?
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!
(A Dream within a Dream (l. 1–7). . . Complete Poems and Selected Essays [Edgar Allan Poe]. Richard Gray, ed. (1993) Everyman.)
We should bear in mind that, in general, it is the object of our newspapers rather to create a sensation - to make a point - than to further the cause of truth. (The Mystery of Marie Roget)
What you were thinking when your team lost in the playoffs last year?
The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crisped and sere—
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year.
How the GOP caved to 45?
Whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster
You were known for having a vivid imagination. Let’s explore. Dreams?
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dreamed before (The Raven)
Any other thoughts on dreams?
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
It will be found, in fact, that the ingenious are always fanciful, and the truly imaginative never otherwise than analytic. (Murders in the Rue Morgue)
Any other thoughts on genius?
TRUE!—nervous—very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? (Tell-Tale Heart)
Let’s delve into what you were famous for. What inspired to write poetry?
With me poetry has been not a purpose, but a passion; and the passions should be held in reverence: they must not — they cannot at will be excited, with an eye to the paltry compensations, or the more paltry commendations, of mankind. (The Raven and Other Poems) (1845), Preface)
And what’s the essence of poetry?
Beauty is the sole legitimate province of the poem. (The Philosophy of Composition; 1846)
I hold that a long poem does not exist. I maintain that the phrase, a long poem, is simply a flat contradiction in terms. (The Poetic Principle; 1850)
And the purpose of poetry?
I would define, in brief, the Poetry of words as the Rhythmical Creation of Beauty. Its sole arbiter is taste. With the intellect or with the conscience, it has only collateral relations. Unless incidentally, it has no concern whatever either with duty or with truth. (The Poetic Principle)
Why you switched to prose?
The object, Truth, or the satisfaction of the intellect, and the object, Passion, or the excitement of the heart, are, although attainable, to a certain extent, in poetry, far more readily attainable in prose. (The Philosophy of Composition)
Novels about secret societies?
Few persons can be made to believe that it is not quite an easy thing to invent a method of secret writing which shall baffle investigation. Yet it may be roundly asserted that human ingenuity cannot concoct a cipher which human ingenuity cannot resolve. ("A Few Words on Secret Writing" in Graham's Magazine. July 1841)
Writing in general?
How many good books suffer neglect through the inefficiency of their beginnings! (Marginalia; 1844)
Ok. How about we end with one of your favorite topics - death?
Thank Heaven! the crisis —
The danger is past,
And the lingering illness
Is over at last —
And the fever called Living
Is conquered at last.
(For Annie; 1849)
O, human love! thou spirit given,
On Earth, of all we hope in Heaven!
Well, thanks Edgar. Say what do people fascinated with death do when they’re immortal? Nevermore! Nevermore!