Two hundred and one years ago today, Edgar Poe was born, the son of two actors. However, both his parents died of tuberculosis when he was a small boy, and he was taken in by a wealthy Scot merchant named John Allan, who gave Poe his middle name.
He was sent to a prestigious university in Virginia but fell in with the wrong crowd and began drinking and gambling. Disapproving of his ways and career choices, his foster father eventually threw him out of the house, and he began living with his aunt, supporting himself by writing anything he could. He even wrote a "how-to" guide for seashell collecting.
He began writing for a new literary trend - magazines - and came to calling himself a "magazinist." He wrote humor and satire, and made just $4-$15 per magazine article, and nothing when the article was reprinted, as many of them were. Eventually he married his 14-year old cousin, and when he found out that she also had tuberculosis, just like his parents, he began to write darker and more grotesque stories.
At one point, he and his wife were so broke, they had sold nearly everything they owned to a pawn shop, and were living on bread and molasses. As he watched his wife's health grow slowly worse, he wrote the horror fiction and poetry for which we now consider him famous. Edgar Allan Poe was widely reprinted in France, where he inspired a generation of French poets and authors, and is now credited in this country for inventing both the detective story and the psychological horror story.
With thanks to The Writer's Almanac.
FUN WITH LIMERICKS
On the poor turtle depression befell.
To a psychologist his troubles he'd tell.
"You are simply too shy,"
Said the doc, "And that's why
You should really come out of your shell."
Quasimodo was hurting a bunch.
His doctor thought his spine had gone "Crunch!"
"Something's wrong with your back,"
"Doc, what makes you say that?"
The physician replied, "Just a hunch."
Actress McLaine lived out in the West
And had an ongoing request.
When she made a joke,
Her friends then all spoke,
As one, they said, "Shirley, you jest!"
The repair man worked many long days
On the bathroom scale's faulty displays
When folks stepped on the scale
Their faces turned pale
As they saw the error of their weighs!
With key in ignition I'm thwarted,
My "DieHard," I fear, has departed.
For it would appear
I have no charge here
Dead battery? Don't get me started!
WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash." (Leonard Cohen)
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