Today is Poe’s funeral. I first learned of him when I had a deck of cards for the game “Authors” when I was in grade school. Of course at that age, the forty year old man was really old. I didn’t learn much about him then but his eerie picture stuck in my mind for years. I was a curious enough student that I looked for information about him in my encyclopedias along with information about the other authors in the game. It was my introduction to American literature.
When I was in high school I began reading some of his works. I didn’t really understand all of it but I found most of it deleriously scary. “The Tell Tale Heart and “The Pit and the Pendulum” were the two that I remember most vividly. I still remember how excruciatingly scary it felt as the pendulum swung lower and lower only to be stopped at the last possible moment.
I didn’t go to the movies to see Vincent Price in several of his stories. I saw them on television several years later. The stories were just as scary watching them on TV as they were reading them years earlier. When you dive into Poe’s works, stormy nights take on new meaning as they do in the following reading.
Now Poe is being honored. Granted it is mainly “The Goths” who have found it fit to give him a proper burial. The first time around there were less than ten who attended his funeral. Today they are expecting several hundred to honor him.
It often amuses me when people dead that long receive posthumous honors. Dead is dead. There are no living mourners who grieve his loss yet there are many who feel the need to show up today.
Perhaps this is just another example of what happens to artists of all kinds whether they write or sculpt or paint. Their true genius takes a while to be appreciated. I guess in the big scheme of things late recognition is better than no recognition at all.
If you appreciated the works of Poe, take a moment today to think about him. He died, as do many talented artists, much too early. No one is actually sure of the cause of his death. His death was dismissed for years as the result of drugs but that is now known not to have been the case. Whatever the cause, forty years old is too young. He didn’t have a chance to reach his full potential. Say a prayer for him. There are very few who can even begin to match his talent for the scary.
In the meantime, enjoy Price’s rendition of “The Raven”.