Tuesday was Edgar Allen Poe’s birthday. It was also Confederate Heroes Day in Texas, but that need not concern us at this time.
On January 19th 1949, a century after Poe’s death, a man wearing black dress clothes and holding a silver-tipped cane walked up to Poe’s grave in Baltimore, toasted him and left half a bottle of cognac and three roses. A year later, he was back again. This shit happened every year on Poe’s birthday for the last 60 years.
Well, until this year. This year, the man dubbed the “Poe Toaster” did not show.
It’s possible that it hasn’t always been the same man, of course. The Poe Toaster occasionally left notes, and some of them seemed to suggest an earlier Toaster was dying and “the torch will be passed on”, with a later note suggesting the tradition was being maintained by a “son”.
No one’s ever found out the identity of the Poe Toaster(s), but due to timing, there’s conjecture that poet David Franks, who died on Sunday, was the current incarnation. Whether he was or not, I shudder to think what will happen next year. This year’s unprecedented no-show will probably give rise to thirty or so Poe enthusiasts (read: goths) turning up next year, all awkwardly dressed as the Poe Toaster and suddenly realising this wasn’t such a great idea after all.
Anyway, here’s Poe’s The Raven, as read by Christopher Walken.