Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A TOAST TO POE

In an earlier post, I was pondering what program to do for an upcoming Halloween gathering that my husband and I are going to. I finally decided to do a recitation of Edgar Allan Poe's famous poem, "The Raven". I haven't recited a poem publicly since college when I had to do a dramatic recitation of Tennyson's tragic ballad, "The Lady of Shalott", so let's hope I can pull it off! It's not going to be pretty if I can't. Back in college, I had to memorize all of the "The Lady of Shalott", so I figured I might as well do the same for Poe's poem. Now I can't get those foreboding entry words, "Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary," out of my head!


After my recitation, I will briefly mention the tradition of the Poe toaster—the mysterious person who paid homage to the famous American author by visiting Poe's gravestone under the cloak of darkness on Poe's birthday for more than 60 years. The shadowy figure is famous for pouring himself a glass of cognac and raising a toast in Poe's memory, then leaving the unfinished bottle and three roses at the grave before vanishing into the night. As far as I know, this is the only known image of the Poe toaster.


The Poe toaster's visits stopped in 2010 as mysteriously as they began in the late 1940s, and he has not visited the grave since. Now that it's been three years since his last appearance, most assume the tradition has officially ended. Some surmise it's because the toaster passed away. Others speculate that 2009, which marked the bicentennial of Poe's birth, marked a logical ending to the tradition. I guess the toaster's true identity will remain shrouded in mystery—for now, at least.

On a cheerier note, be sure to stop by my previous post to see some charming little quilts that I recently had the pleasure of viewing at my local Prairie Women's Sewing Circle.

4 comments:

  1. That's so intriguing about the toaster. I'd never heard of it before. Good luck on your recitation! :o)

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  2. Goodluck on your recitation. Hearing your mention of "The Lady of Shalott" reminds me of the movie Anne of Green Gables/Avonlea when she did a recitation of that at the White Sands Hotel. Have you seen that movie? It's so good! Thanks for sharing with us about the mysterious Poe "toaster", I had never heard of that. Cool! Gina

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  3. What an interesting story! I'm sure you will do a great job reciting the poem - you will have to let us know how it goes!

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