Monday, January 19, 2009

A Sip of Cognac, a Birthday Toast ...

... marking the bicentennial of the birth of poet, writer editor and critic Edgar Allan Poe, born on this day in 1809, in Boston, his legacy has generated new interest in this new century.

Through his writings - and adaptations of said writings for stage, film, television, even cartoons - he is best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, of tormented minds and souls. But he is considered the inventor of the detective-fiction genre (C. Auguste Dupin), and is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction (Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym). It is noted that he was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.

Would that he could have enjoyed back then, the interest and success he enjoys today. A number of
cities are fighting for the honor to claim him as theirs and only theirs, in what's been dubbed 'The Poe War.' The U.S. Postal Servicfe has released a stamp to commemorate Poe's 200th birthday. And every January 19th, in the pre-dawn hours, crowds gather in a Baltimore cemetery, hoping to someday glimpse a mysterious visitor who places three red roses and a half-filled bottle of cognac at Poe's grave in Baltimore before quietly slipping away.

It's hard not to feel the allure of the man's vision, and the way he crafted the words that have shared that vision with untold milllions of readers and filmgoers ... and will continue to do so long after you and I have passed on to join him for a sip of cognac.

Poe's Wikipedia write-up is a good start for finding out more about the man, his works and his legacy. You can also visit the websites of the
Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Edgar Allen Poe Society in Balyimore, Maryland, or the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Indeed, a sip of cognac in Edgar Allen's memory and honor. Few have had such command of the English language in prose and in poetry. I remember one of the first poems I memorized in grade school was Poe's "The Haunted Palace". (Yes, I had somewhat different tastes even as a sixth grader.) The poem also taught me a magnificent word: Porphyrogene. Look it up and impress your friends. Poe's influence extends deeply to this day, too. There is, of all things, a SpongeBob Squarepants episode that is a major ripoff of "The Tell-tale Heart". I love it, even if it was a bit over my boys' heads.
Oh, and at the risk of referencing an old post, yes Jeff, I was reading. "Crossing the T" is a tactical naval maneuver that was much sought but seldom accomplished through naval history. Another example is the defeat of the Russian fleet at Tsushima by Japanese Admiral Togo in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905.
And there you have your semi-obscure historical reference for the day as well. Keep up the good work!

Jeff said...

Darrell, thanks for stopping in, and for the comments. I need to re-discover Poe ... I came across references to some of his works that I was previously unaware of, and that needs to be rectified. "Semi-obscure historical reference" perhaps, but valid nonetheless. The actions of the Japanese Navy during the Russo-Japanese Navy (especially the opening battle at Port Arthur) contributed to the arguments posed by those warning that history might be repeated at a base such as Pearl Harbor.

Darrell e-talk is great, but we need to really get together and visit ... over cognac, coffee or whatever.

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