Wednesday, January 25, 2012


The moon is about love & Werewolves, also Poe
Poe is about looking at the moon from the sun
or else the graveyard

Allan Ginsberg, from "Is About" (1996)

The story here in Baltimore is that the Poe Toaster did not show up again this year, apparently putting to rest the tradition of saluting Edgar Allan Poe on his birthday in January.  For years, someone showed up at his grave in downtown Baltimore every January 19 and left a bottle of cognac and three roses, but the last time this happened was 2009, the two-hundredth anniversary of the poet's birth. 

But, as long as there is eighth-grade English being taught, there will be students all across the nation reading "The Raven":

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 visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more." 

So, that part of the tradition will live on.  There is another section of Baltimore called Fells Point, a waterfront area where saloons prosper.  Go figure!  Fells Point is named for William Fell, a Quaker from England who began a shipbuilding business in that area in the 1700s.  If you remember the tv show "Homicide," which showed the seamier side of Bmore for several years, then you'll recall the building where the detectives worked...that's the Fells Point Recreation Pier, which dates back almost a century.  And there is a saloon called The Horse You Came In On right there, which is rumored to be the last place in which Poe tipped a bottle before dying in the streets of some combination of  (per Wikepedia) "alcohol, brain congestion, cholera, drugs, heart disease, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis, and other agents."

His was not a happy life; his were not happy poems and stories. The Baltimore Ravens football team salutes him: their three mascots in giant black bird outfits are named Edgar, Allan and Poe.

And they're not so happy these days either.  But life goes on!

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