Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Conqueror Worm

""Even in the grave all is not lost."
~Edgar Allen Poe

If there is one thing Edgar Allan Poe needn't have feared during his tragic life it was "the appalling and intolerable horror" of premature burial. This weekend the celebrated Gothic-Horror writer is finally being laid to rest in Baltimore, Maryland, some 160 years after perishing in complete poverty, obscurity and madness. Perhaps best remembered for his graveyard grimace, immortalized by the U.S. postal system first in 1949 and most recently on a 42 cent stamp issued earlier this year on the occasion of his 200th birthday, Poe's body of work has influenced countless artists with its macabre vision of cosmic treachery and swirling supernatural menace. In a cruel stroke of life imitating art, Poe was himself a born-to-lose fuck up racked with gambling debt and delirium tremens and seemingly driven by a horde of personal demons to eke out a desperate living (to paraphrase another Baltimore denizen) as an itinerant scribe. It was in Baltimore in 1835 that he notoriously married his 13 year old cousin, Virginia Clemm, who would die just three years after his sole brush with success following the publication of his poem 'The Raven', which boasts some of the most popularly recognized verses in the English language ("Once upon a midnight dreary..."). It was in this same city that he himself met his fate at the age of 40, four days after he was found babbling like a madman outside a favorite watering hole (sound familiar?). Only 10 people attended his funeral and one of his sworn enemies presented a scathing obituary that scandalized his legacy. To add further insult to this undignified demise, Poe was buried in the unmarked grave of a pauper. Some years later a relative heard of his degraded memorial, by then overgrown with weeds, and ordered a more stately tombstone but it too was doomed to a terrible fate. According to official records, which read as though culled straight from one of Poe's own morbid tales, the tombstone was destroyed before arriving at the cemetery when a train derailed and plowed through the monument yard! Some guys hold all the aces and eights. This weekend, at the demand of literary fans and academic advocates around the world, the City of Baltimore has assembled several elaborate funerary events to finally pay this master wordsmith his due respect with a proper burial. Two, in fact! Farewell, Mr. Poe. Now, finally, rest in peace.

"The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends,
and where the other begins?"
~Edgar Allan Poe


Leon Holocausto said...

Dennis, Dennis, Dennis ... It's "AllAn," not "AllEn." For shame ...


Dennis Dread said...

Duly noted and duly corrected, Professor Holocausto. That wasn't a typo, that was genuine ignorance. Fortunately, you are the only person who reads this blog so my shame will not be terribly widespread.

Chris Slack said...

Shame shame. Nice writeup though. I visited the man's original burial site last may, perhaps I can check out the new one at the Deathfest next May.

maybe you should go Dennis, Watain and lots of other swell bands are playing :)

Dennis Dread said...

Tough crowd tonight!

Notice that the sign I photographed at the bar in Baltimore where he frequently drank also misspelled his name. Even in death poor Poe can't get a break!

To make things right I'll deliver flowers to his grave while I'm at Maryland Death Fest next year. AUTOPSY!

Amy said...

I'll be there too! We'll trek together to give flowers to Edgar. Then, we will head bang to Autopsy, Incantation, Pentagram, Eyehategod, and Sodom.

Leon Holocausto said...

When you're out on the East Coast in the Spring, Herr Dread, you'll have to visit the new Charnel House so you can do that wall-sized Universal Horror-tribute mural you PROMISED me ... HEH!

whiskey said...

This is a nice post approaching Halloween.
I know this magazine is kind of wanky but here is a link to a New Yorker article that gives further details about why he was such a fucked up genius.