Edgar Allan Poe died today, October 7, 1849 in Baltimore. He was 40 years old.
My first introduction to Poe was “The Tell- Tale Heart”. I think was in maybe the 5th or 6th grade when the teacher read it to us. I found it frightening. And then there were his other storied like “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and his very bad poetry. I had always thought he was from Richmond – or maybe Baltimore, but have since learned he actually lived all over and went to school both at the University of Virginia and West Point. After I moved to Boston, I found out that he had been born there. I went looking for the tiny plaque in an alley honoring him. There was also a reference in one of Linda Fairstein’s mysteries to the Poe cabin in the Bronx which is how I first learned of his New York connection. So lots and lots of places claim him and there are at least three Poe historical sites: Richmond, Baltimore and the Bronx.
But he and Boston had a terrible relationship. According to the New York Times
Poe sneered at the city’s luminaries. Riffing off the Frog Pond in the Boston Common, Poe called the local swells “Frogpondians,” their moralistic works sounding like the croaking of so many frogs. As for residents here, they “have no soul,” he said. “Bostonians are well bred — as very dull persons very generally are.”
The Boston Globe explains that his relationship with “…with the city’s literary elite was famously tense…”
But now Boston has joined Baltimore, Richmond and New York with a tribute to Poe. The New York Times quotes Boston’s Mayor
“It’s time that Poe, whose hometown was Boston, be honored for his connection to the city,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said.
The Times describes the statue
Now the city is burying the hatchet, and not in Poe’s back. On Sunday [October 5], civic and literary folk, including Robert Pinsky, a former national poet laureate who teaches at Boston University, are to unveil a bronze statue of Poe near the Boston Common and, they hope, usher in an era of reconciliation.
The statue captures the writer in a purposeful stride, his cape billowing out to his left. On his right is an outsize raven, uncoiling for flight. Poe is toting a suitcase so overpacked that various manuscripts — “The Tell-Tale Heart” among them — are spilling out. Also popping out is a heart.
He is heading toward the house, two blocks away, where his parents lived around the time he was born, though it has since been razed.
So the only person to write a poem that became the name of a football team, the Baltimore Ravens, has finally been honored in the city of his birth. I wonder what Poe would make of it.
Photograph: DINA RUDICK/GLOBE STAFF