Editor’s Note: This piece is part of our on-going “Sunday Travels” series. These occasional entries will describe the recent adventures of one of our staff writers, while remaining true to our mission of being informative and well researched. In the fourth entry in this series Tom tries his hand at poetry as he describes a recent trip to the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Richmond, VA. You can find our past Sunday Travels articles here.
Once upon a midday clearly on the way towards someplace eerie
On the search for an author known for tales of frightful lore —
On the sidewalk my shoes tapping, a home appears with familiar trappings
I began rapping, rapping on the museum’s door.
“Tis some tourist” shouted the owner, “rapping on our museum’s door” —
“Doubtless, he’s here for the tour.”
Ah, distinctly I remember they ask if I was a museum youth member;
I could feel my heart dropping to the floor
As Suddenly I blushed with sorrow — vainly the years I wished to borrow
From my age surcease of sorrow, sorrow because I knew this score
The familiar spectacle had become quite the bore
I’m afraid I’m babyfaced for evermore.
His story begins in Boston Back Bay, a grim tale of sorrow gets under way,
from Boston to Richmond and eventually a tragedy in Baltimore.
Born to actors in eighteen-oh-nine, the young man would always pine
He yearned for a fine, prime father figure to teach him more
He got John Allen,who had hoped to aline Poe with his tobacco Store.
But young Edgar hoped for so much more.
Off to college in Charlottesville, but without enough money to pay the bill
So Edgar covered his tuition through cards and dice.
In his classes he would excel, ultimately coming under Lord Byron’s spell.
But when the gambles did not go well, well Edger did not think twice.
In order to avoid the debtor’s cell, Edger’s college plans were put on ice.
John Allen wouldn’t pay the asking price.
At only eighteen with a grim outlook, Edgar manages to publish his first book
It failed to win him the acclaim he craves so in the Army he would enlist
His time in the ranks Edgar would savor, he would go on to become a Sergeant Major
He would become a West Point Cadet, Yet just eight months later bad luck persists
Only just getting his feet wet, he would be forced to unenlist
Poe was Impoverished, alone, and struggling to exist.
Later with his life work found, Edgar’s luck seemed to be turning around
Because with his acid pen, Poe demonstrated that we was no craven
He took on the northern literary elite, and kept its authors all on their feet
In his articles Edger would just beat, beat from the safety of his Richmond haven
But his finest moment would be more sweet, and his on his legacy blazened
In eighteen forty-five Poe would finally write the Raven.
But the cheerful moment would not last, at twenty-four Poe’s dear wife would pass,
Taken from him by an outbreak of the Tuberculosis virus.
Seeing him, his critics have said, that poor old Edgar would soon be dead.
From town to town Poe would tread, tread but fate would soon give crisis
Nearly dead, he wandered with a singular focus
But Poe would not live to see The Stylus
Poe would conclude his journey in Baltimore, ending his search for success once more
Vanishing from sight he would be missing for five days.
When he was found he was unpaid, next to a bar room door they found him laid.
Whisked to the hospital for aid, aid, but to late he began to gray
From his family he had strayed, ultimately dying so far away
But was this self inflicted or the fault of foul play?
A rival author would have the last say, leaving us with this takeaway
In an attempt to discredit Poe a series of lies, rather bold.
A story of shameless drinking, portraying poor Edgar as unthinking
A cowardly man his respect shrinking, shrinking and with a heart so cold.
But the eyes of history would be squinting, his punishment returned fivefold
Because who anyway really remembers Rufus Griswold?
WIth a last look around in the gift shop, picking up a mug and an old Raven prop
The kindly owner looked at me and asked if I saw what I came for;
I looked at her with my eyes bright and we discussed Poe’s stories of fright,
Best told at night by bedlight to prepare for what is in store
Then she said in hindsight twas Richmond Poe prefered, thinking she had won our little war
Yes I replied, but you see his body resides in Baltimore.