Sunday, January 4, 2015

Edgar Allan Poe, the Mysteries of the World Writ Large

1849 "Annie" daguerrotype of Poe courtesy of site
 Edgar Allan Poe married his cousin Virginia Clemm when she was 13 and he was 27; the dichotomy was legion-his experience to her youthful and naive innocence. Whether her immune system was weakened from the stresses of the marriage and Poe's rumored philanderings which devastated her, Virginia Eliza Clemm contracted tuberculosis and withered for 5 years until she died. On her deathbed, she accused the woman with whom Poe allegedly had an affair as being indirectly responsible for her death. Poe never forgave himself and was wracked by guilt, though he attempted to expiate this through his writings and poems like Annabel Lee, The Raven and others.

The stress and burden of this guilt as well as the anxiety of attempting to make a successful writing career for himself and potentially effect a marriage with various women eventually consumed him along with alcoholic binges and mysterious illnesses. He was found lying in a Baltimore gutter delirious and under great duress. Poe was transported to Washington Medical College where he died four days later. His cause of death was occluded; the truth has yet to materialize. Indeed, the mysteries that he had confronted during his lifetime brought him to an early and lonely end. To this day, his death is steeped in speculation and one author has posited that Poe was a diabetic and was in a diabetic coma when he was found. Along with his brilliant unparalleled poems, criticisms, novels and short stories, this mystery infuses his ethos as romantic and adds to the mystique of one of the grandest and most globally beloved American writers.

The mysteries of the world writ large
Upon your soul as deep as darkness' sea.
Your prescient being over wrought and charged
With quantifying consciousness. To free
Your loving cousin to communicate
In ethers, time warps stretching toward the stars,
Bending spirits within altered states,
You'd bring her close to you who was so far.
The gulf of death you crossed; scorned mortal shores.
Alone upon the waves of time and light
You drove your words and thoughts and hope restored
Continued through life's hellish days and nights.
And then your soul's cruel wanderings did cease.
Joined with your love eternal in Christ's peace.

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