Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Tell Tale Day Trip

It wasn't a midnight dreary so much as a sunny afternoon, but I walked the path of Edgar Allan Poe today. A friend and I went up to Baltimore to visit Poe's grave site and home. While Poe died in Baltimore, he wasn't actually living there at the time but just passing through on his way from Richmond back to New York.

The graveyard was everything you'd expect from the master of horror, only it was just about the sunniest day we've had this year.

Amid crumbling tombs and fading headstones lies the bodies of one of the greatest and most misunderstood American writers.

While the graveyard looks a bit frightening because of its age and exposure to the harsh city elements, it is the final resting place for many great Americans, including James Henry, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Just a mile or so down the road is the home where Poe's writing career first began. He lived there with his grandmother, aunt and two of his cousins, one of whom he married when she was just 13 years old.

(This picture is from the Edgar Allan Poe Society.)

Because the family was living on his grandmother's pension while Poe attempted to make a career of writing, they were often ill-clothed, cold and starving. Probably one of the most interesting things about this house is that the neighborhood in which it's located really hasn't changed much since Poe lived there. While few of the original buildings still stand, it is still a poor, unkempt neighborhood. In fact, the Poe House and Museum shares a wall with a public housing unit and has a police office stationed outside of the door at all times.

I still remember when I first read "Annabel Lee" in middle school. While many of my classmates loved "Fall of the House of Usher" and "A Tell Tale Heart" because of their elements of the macabre, I was much more interested in his stories of love lost and tragic death. At times I feel sorry for Poe and at others I feel I can relate to him because of his openness about his feelings of self-doubt, depression and anger. So many writers of that time were these idolized members of the upper class who wrote because they could, but Poe wrote because he had to.

This had to be one of my favorite day trips. To learn more about and walk the steps of one of my favorite authors was pretty amazing.

No comments:

Post a Comment