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Edgar Allan Poe was known for strange and mysterious tales, in poetry and prose. Perhaps fittingly, the circumstances surrounding his premature death at the age of 40 were also strange and mysterious. (Read about the circumstances here and here.) Thus, with the help of poet Phil S. Rogers, the idea was conceived of a poem, factual and/or fictional, on the death of Poe in the meter of his renowned “Raven.”

The poet and editor, got as far as the below two stanzas, which are free for public use with the hope that someone will bring this concept to fruition, or add a stanza, and post it in the comments below.

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On a sodden night so eerie, moonless, therefore dark and dreary,
Mists athwart the ground roll shrouding, creeping, creeping ever low.
Keeping always barely hidden, barely seen as if forbidden,
Something mangled in the gutter, perhaps beset on by a foe,
Noted dramatist and poet, christened Edgar Allan Poe,
Not a tag yet on his toe.

Endless laughter deep one night, a public house in golden light,
Whisky flowed In Gunner’s Hall, public tavern, polling place,
Where the people came out for election day in Baltimore.
Was the beastly whiskey drinking sinking him beyond God’s grace
To a point beyond the health and joy that fills the human race?
No hint came from his pale face.

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25 Responses

  1. James A. Tweedie

    Edgar Allan Poe, the poet, died but was too drunk to know it.
    Sobered up and started throwing up in front of heaven’s door.
    “I’m not done!” he shouted plainly. “Send me back!” he pleaded vainly.
    “This is nuts!” he said insanely, gamely rapping on the door.
    “Just a poet,” said St. Pete, “inanely tapping on our door.
    “Only that and nothing more.”

    Edgar’s screams were undiminished, “There’s a poem I’ve not finished!”
    “Let me . . . get me back to somewhere close to where I was before.”
    “Let me go! I’m tired of fighting! There’s a book I should be writing!
    “I’m not finding this exciting, knocking on your stupid door.”
    Michael queried, “Who’s inciting rioting outside our door?”
    Pete said, “Poe,” and nothing more.

    Soon enough, Poe’s worries ended. Back to earth his soul descended.
    Where he found himself awaking, aching on his chamber floor.
    With his neighbor’s rooster crowing, and his pounding headache growing
    He arose, no longer knowing where he’d been the night before.
    “What went wrong?” St. Peter asked. “It was,” the harried angel swore,
    “A scribal error, nothing more.”

    Reply
  2. Peter Hartley

    James – A wonderfully irreverent description of shenanigans outside the pearly gates, with some very felicitous rhymes. I particularly like the laconic Saint Pete saying it’s just Poe the poet and nothing more, “insanely, gamely rapping on the door.” In fact this little poem has made my afternoon.

    Reply
  3. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Edgar’s death is most perplexing, steeped in mystery, dark and vexing;
    Raven’s wings outstretched and flexing, flexing at the chamber door.
    Did a barroom binge of liquor lick his skin, let fever flicker,
    Singe his brow as he grew sicker, sicker than he’d been before?
    Tell-tale heart hallucinations, incoherent declarations
    Till his breath was never more.

    Mister Poe was dazed and hazy, tongue all slack and eyes all glazy;
    Gaunt and haunted, gone half crazy calling for his lost Lenore.
    Lacking vim and lacking vigor, pendulum’s swing from pits of rigor;
    Edgar should’ve pulled the trigger – killed the ominous bird of yore.
    Experts cite the blight of rabies – there are many mights and maybes
    On this quest of evermore.

    Reply
    • Phil Rogers

      Absolutely love the first line, the reference to shooting the raven, and the
      references to Poe’s other works. Thank you.

      Reply
    • Cynthia Erlandson

      Hilarious and brilliant! I love the way this group can have great fun while being serious about poetry!

      Reply
    • Jess Sleight

      Wish I could think of such a wonderful melange of words, all knowing at the door, but in knowing as before…

      Reply
  4. Will Dunn

    Hidden in Plain Plight

    Speaking to his secret buried, strange are
    many versions varied,
    explicating the very curious
    happenstance of Poe’s demise,
    none concluding self-sedation
    by ferment of his libation
    for pneumonic aspiration
    that, foretold by fever’s rise,
    led to retching and reclothing
    then to madness briefly guise —
    donned by death that fear denies.

    Reply
  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Revised Version:

    Edgar’s death is most perplexing, steeped in mystery, dark and vexing;
    Raven’s wings outstretched and flexing, flexing at the chamber door.
    Did a barroom binge of liquor lick his skin, let fever flicker,
    Singe his brow as he grew sicker, sicker than he’d been before,
    Tell-Tale-Heart hallucinations, incoherent declarations
    Till his breath was never more?

    Mister Poe was dazed and hazy, tongue all slack and eyes all glazy;
    Gaunt and haunted, gone half crazy calling for his lost Lenore.
    Lacking vim and lacking vigor, pendulum’s swing from pits of rigor;
    Edgar should’ve pulled the trigger – killed the ominous bird of yore.
    Experts cite the blight of rabies – there are many mights and maybes
    In this tale of evermore.

    Edgar’s life of non-compliance hexed the finds of settled science
    Quashing trust and blind reliance on all analytic lore.
    Grim ends leave folk shocked and shivery, shrieking tales with bleak delivery,
    Stoked to make a raven quivery, quivery to the very core.
    Whether crazed or whisky-sodden, Poe will never be forgotten –
    He will sing forevermore!

    Reply
    • Roy E. Peterson

      Susan, I am always in awe of your felicity with words, in this case the vexing, flexing and hexing. I agree with Phil Rogers that referencing other works of Poe in your verses is pure inspiration enlivening the meaning.

      Reply
      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Thank you so very much, Roy. I’ve taken a couple of poetic liberties with the form… and intend to go back to the drawing board. Sometimes, I’m too passionate for my own good. lol.

  6. Will Dunn

    Another possibility.

    Griswold Called

    Libel was the notice printed, facts ignored and newly minted,
    scandalizing with fury curious
    life and death of Mr. Poe —
    “Raving madness diabolic,
    constant mumbling melancholic,
    stumbling stupors alcoholic,”
    Griswold, as the author muttered,
    taking charge of works by Poe
    wielding power yielding woe.

    Thus begetting my suspicion
    Griswold felled his competition
    crafting crime of hatred spurious
    using cooping to excuse
    dressing Poe in odd attire
    as if forced to thus conspire
    leading to a fate more dire —
    poison burning as the fuse
    Griswold lit in dark igniting
    legal edict he’d abuse
    filching fame that Poe would lose.

    Reply
  7. Norma Okun

    On Edgar Allan Poe immortal day
    On a bleak and weary night Edgar and Annabel
    Died in ways that captive our imagination
    On a tender cloudless night with no moon above
    And strange cuckoos heard no more
    As night descending on Annabel who Poe remembered
    On a stillness and bells that rung on at the very time
    Poe and Annabel embraced forever on
    A unforgettable night.

    Reply
  8. Will Dunn

    Yet another possibility.

    Self Defense?
    .
    “Death” perhaps is Poe’s own story
    written as exculpatory
    freeing him from a habit curious
    demons caused him to invoke —
    telling tales so often eerie
    leading even him to theory
    evil of which he was leery
    formed the words he penned and spoke
    making horror seem companion
    though but devil’s means to cloak
    curse from which he never woke.

    Reply
  9. Mia

    I have found this to be one of the most difficult exercises on SCP.
    What amazing poems, only wish I could reach such a standard.
    And you have sparked an interest in Edgar Allan Poe .
    Thank you SCP

    Reply
  10. Isabelle Wann

    Take a drink to Edgar
    Who, like many artists of his time,
    Built a world around himself,
    A world of prose and rhyme
    Take a drink to Edgar
    Who wrote of Dickens’ bird,
    And made his stories so dark and scary,
    They could turn your blood to curd.
    Deep into the darkness peering,
    I wonder if he was afearing,
    What we know for him awaits,
    Or if he took it just as fate.
    Take a drink to Edgar,
    But maybe only one
    For if we have too many,
    Our lives just may be done.
    I don’t know what he believed,
    I can’t say he lived for lies,
    But I can say, that either way
    I disagree or sympathize.
    Disagree of he thought life not worth living.
    If he thought he could satisfy all his needs
    And if he thought that all life is giving
    Is drink, to be had in copious feeds.
    Yet otherwise, I’d sympathize
    If it were any other
    Maybe t’was an accident,
    Or a visit to his mother.

    I know some of this doesn’t make sense…. I tried anyhow haha.

    Reply
  11. Janett Lee Wawrzyniak - Florida

    Poetry Challenge: A ‘Raven’-like Poem on the Death of Edgar Allan Poe
    Janett Wawrzyniak, Florida
    July 12, 2021

    New formed rain drops catch incoming cosmic frequencies,
    Raindrops fall impressed with cosmic memories,
    With light, heard is rapidly increasing frequency again.
    Electromagnetic frequencies fall in raindrops setting course,
    Surrounding air is permeated with spreading frequency,
    Incoming wavelengths each with a strong purpose of their source.

    Like a drum with percussion, a fife is heard and felt,
    Highest frequencies violet with gamma reaching higher yet,
    Are possibly — then felt about one’s head as tapping.
    Frequencies increase higher, rapid then closer not offset
    Their crests and troughs shorten to vibrate are on track.
    Frequency identity is realized — its higher percussion is felt.

    Vibration is experienced differently by each individual.
    Lowering thoughts to baser density is avoided, then self dealt.
    Quality increases with strong higher frequency and its surroundings.
    Day or night tapping increases — and overall is felt,
    For eons the living searched for light, through the hands of time
    In given grace for evermore — then uniting with Light Divine.

    Reply
  12. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    My final, tidied up version:

    Purple Curtains
    ~ Musings on Edgar Allen Poe’s Mysterious Death

    Edgar’s death was most perplexing, steeped in mystery, dark and vexing –
    Some saw wings outstretched and flexing, flexing at his chamber door.
    Did a barroom binge of liquor lick his skin, let fever flicker,
    Singe his brow as he grew sicker, sicker than he’d been before?
    Tell-tale-heart hallucinations may have gripped him as before
    Till his breath was nevermore.

    Some said Poe was dazed and hazy, tongue all slack and eyes all glazy;
    Gaunt and haunted, gone half crazy, calling for his lost Lenore.
    Lacking vim and missing vigor, pendulum’s swing from pits of rigor;
    Edgar should’ve pulled the trigger – shot the ominous bird of yore.
    Some, they cite the blight of rabies; others blame the bird of yore
    And its squawk of “Nevermore!”

    Edgar’s life of non-compliance hexed the finds of settled science
    Quashing trust and blind reliance on all analytic lore.
    Grim ends left folk shocked and shivery, shrieking tales with bleak delivery
    Stoked to make a raven quivery, quivery to its quothing core.
    Whisky-sodden or cur-bitten; mad or pickled to the core –
    Poe will sing forevermore!

    Reply
  13. Kathy Bahr

    Aversion and appetite are his demands to who the poet plays
    Smote of a single seminal hand bent old page and black ink confessor.
    The twinge in a man and his tales are thick in fog.
    Vying one another the poet bent down torn words.
    Pique that lay across the poet’s path meandering the time.
    Attention of the day gave new words.

    Reply

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