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The Dark Night of Edgar Allan Poe

Updated on February 22, 2012

Before there was Eliot, Yeats and Frost there was Edgar Allan Poe; the dark knight of literature and prose. If there was a knight in shining armor that rescued desperate damsels in distress then Poe was the black horse sweltering, lathery and flaming in their despair. He was the villain that tore through the dark countryside with the damsel helplessly at his mercy. Edgar Allan Poe was the master of macabre and mystery.

Poe was the detective dangerously chasing after his prey in the cold unforgiving streets. Poe was the unlikely Raven in his own tumultuous life a dark poem spiraling into the abyss. From that same abyss came the genesis of his genius that would inspire not only writing but science and cryptography as well. Often hated and misunderstood later Poe’s shadow would cast itself deep down the corridor of poetic posterity.

In constant conflict with his peers while living the self proclaimed critic spared no one. In death the giants of the literary landscape lauded him with accolades as the instigator and inspiration of their own revelation. From Arthur Conan Doyle the mastermind of Sherlock Holmes to the wild imagination of H.G. Wells; Poe’s lucid mind found it’s way into the tapestry of their creativity each paying homage to the dark pen of Poe.

Shortly after his birth in the winter of 1809 both his parents were gone, his mother to sudden death and his father to abandonment. He was taken in by the affluent John and Frances Allan but strangely was never adopted. The next 30 years would find the fleeting shadow of Poe on the streets of New York City, England, Boston and Philadelphia chasing the elusive albatross of literary acceptance. From a stint in the military and grammar school in both Scotland and London the surreal clay of Poe’s imagination was being formed.

“Tamerlane” to “Annabel Lee” Poe’s unsuccessful bid at acceptance was always just out of reach. Public drunkenness led to his discharge as an assistant newspaper editor as alcohol stalked his steps throughout life like a late unwelcome guest. Finding only moderate success as a magazine editor he continued to publish his poetry when the release of The Raven plunged him into the mainstream at the age of 36.

He lost his Virginia to tuberculosis nearly 2 years to the day after The Raven screamed through the public conscience leaving him deplorable and depressed. Poe was just beginning to bask in the new found acceptance when his own raven came tapping and Poe was dead at 40. It was not until the twilight of his often tormented life that he tasted the dregs of success. The battle against addiction was a failing one despite the efforts Poe made joining a “temperance” group that advocated sobriety.

No one is certain the cause of his death after the distraught Poe was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore wearing a stranger’s bedraggled clothes. Edgar Allan Poe never regained consciousness to explain his last dilapidating hours and died in the Washington College Hospital. A friend of Poe later wrote in his journal leaving a lamenting epitaph, “A bright but unsteady light has been awfully quenched…”

by Chad Taylor

© Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved

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    • The Lost Dutchman profile image

      Patrick Bernauw 7 years ago from Flanders (Belgium)

      Very well written!

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

      Good hub...I love Poe's work...thanks! :)

    • Chad A Taylor profile image
      Author

      Chad Taylor 7 years ago from Somewhere in Seattle...

      Thank you I am glad it was a good read! Your encouragement is gold

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, just like to say I liked the poem and will be checking out more of his works, thanks a lot, lol Nell,

    • Army Infantry Mom profile image

      Army Infantry Mom 7 years ago

      Excellent Hub !!! I'm a big fan of Poe and this was facinating.

    • Ken R. Abell profile image

      Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Wow. This is great! I have said for years that if I was stranded on a desert island & could only have three books, one would be "The Unabridged Edgar Allan Poe".

      My copy, from the Quality Paperback Book Club, is almost thirty years old & the cover/binding is duct-taped & the spine is cracked.

      Thank you for writing this tribute to one of the finest wordsmiths ever. The opening sentence of "The Fall of the House of Usher" is as brilliant as writing gets.

    • Juliet Christie profile image

      Juliet Christie Murray 7 years ago from Sandy Bay Jamaica

      It is good to have met you.The truth ,I write poetry, actually published two books ,but if you asked me about this great poet I know his name but that's about it.I see I have found a gold mine here in your writings.Thank you very much for these historical back ground

    • Chad A Taylor profile image
      Author

      Chad Taylor 7 years ago from Somewhere in Seattle...

      Ken, now I have to get that book you mentioned on Poe... Sounds utterly fascinating thank you for taking the time to share this!

    • Chad A Taylor profile image
      Author

      Chad Taylor 7 years ago from Somewhere in Seattle...

      Juliet, thank you for the kind words; I know it will inspire us both to keep writing and share with the world our gift! Keep doing it!

    • WRKennedy profile image

      WRKennedy 7 years ago from Canada

      Poe has always been a favourite of mine, for the way his words roll off the tongue. He had a wonderful sense of rhythm. Thank you for this hub.

    • Dame Scribe profile image

      Dame Scribe 7 years ago from Canada

      I enjoy Poe now and again and he does get dark but as WRK said, he had a flow with this words. Great Hub! :)

    • profile image

      A.M. Gwynn 7 years ago

      I do love my Poe.

      Nice!

    • Carmen Borthwick profile image

      Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C.

      This is a fantastic hub. I have been a fan of Poe's since I was 13/14. I passed my passion to my youngest son and have found him some older copies of Poe's work in used book stores that are in remarkable condition. He has quite a collection now. Thanks for the reminder of an amazing talent.

    • Chad A Taylor profile image
      Author

      Chad Taylor 7 years ago from Somewhere in Seattle...

      What an amazing gift for your son!

    • Michael Ray King profile image

      Michael Ray King 7 years ago from Palm Coast, Florida

      Chad, thank you for your research into these great writers. It adds to my respect of their work.

    • Seriina profile image

      Seriina 7 years ago from Anywhere

      Ugh! I such a fan of your stuff!

    • Chad A Taylor profile image
      Author

      Chad Taylor 7 years ago from Somewhere in Seattle...

      thank you!

    • roghut profile image

      roghut 7 years ago

      like your stuff

    • profile image

      Pachuca213 7 years ago

      I absolutely love anything to do with E.A.P. He is one of my all time favorite if not FAVORITE poets! His words were so real although dark they also touched a deep abyss inside our souls that I have yet to see another poet do. Most of his poems of loss have actually helped me in times of grief, pain and sadness as I can see he knew those emotions well. Very awesome hub!

    • Kaie Arwen profile image

      Kaie Arwen 7 years ago

      Love Poe............ my friend and co-worker just finished reading The Raven with her 7th graders in the last few weeks.......... he was a hit, as always

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 7 years ago from Canada

      Now I must read more... poe

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 7 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      Everyone loves Poe, his writing was so dark and his imagination was limitless. Really enjoyed reading this. I enjoyed your new project website! Really impressive! Best of luck!

    • Warren Curtis profile image

      Warren Curtis Daniels Jr 7 years ago from Buffalo, New York

      Great breakdown. I could feel your love of his gift in your writting.

    • Dao Hoa profile image

      Dao Hoa 7 years ago

      I was introduced to his poetry from my children’s Language classes and I love Poe’s poems ever since then.

    • Carol the Writer profile image

      Carolyn Blacknall 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Excellent! This thrilled me, filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before. I remember I wrote a book report on "The Fall of the House of Usher" in 6th grade and a visiting teacher said it was college-level work. I have always loved Poe and H. P. Lovecraft. Thanks for doing this.

    • lovelypaper profile image

      Renee S 7 years ago from Virginia

      I like Poe. Fascinating hub!

    • George J Hardy profile image

      George J Hardy 6 years ago from Southern New Jersey

      A return to Poe is always a worthy endeavor!

    • Chad A Taylor profile image
      Author

      Chad Taylor 6 years ago from Somewhere in Seattle...

      Indeed @George and thank you all

    • Scarface1300 profile image

      Scarface1300 5 years ago

      Very well written and presented informative hub. Poe is one of my favourites so thankyou for this.

    • Nikkij504gurl profile image

      Nikkij504gurl 5 years ago from Louisiana

      great bio here. Edgar Allan Poe is one of the great writers and this was a great tribute to him. Thanks!

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