Poetry Friday: Edgar Allan Poe
July 11, 2008
I've never been to Baltimore except to change planes, but I'm ready to go after reading Laura Lippman's In a Strange City, a mystery with the Poe Toaster at its center. For more than fifty years, a visitor has left three roses and a half-bottle of cognac at Poe's grave; he (or she) comes in the wee hours of the morning on Poe's birthday (January 19th). Lippman takes this tradition and runs with it, giving her heroine, private investigator Tess Monaghan, an education in the life of the famous author and encounters with more than one eccentric Charm City resident. Oh, and a murder at the graveyard starts things off.
In a Strange City is smart and witty, and obviously filled with literary references, and I look forward to reading more of Lippman's mysteries. For Poetry Friday I've chosen Poe's "Alone," which figures in the novel's plot.
From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then—in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent of the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.
The roundup of links to poems and poetry talk posted at other blogs today is at Lisa Chellman's blog, Under the Covers.
Sounds like a great book! I'll recommend it to my mom (a Mystery Reader) and put it on my to-read list.
Posted by: Mary Lee | July 11, 2008 at 12:12 PM
Mary Lee, I really enjoyed the book and raced through it this week. It made me curious to know more about Poe, too.
Posted by: Susan T. | July 11, 2008 at 02:20 PM
Poe's poems are so melodious, aren't they? I remember learning years ago that he thought of poetry as "the rhythmical creation of beauty." And I think he pulls it off, though often I find his vision... disturbing. (Demons in clouds, and the like...!)
Posted by: writer2b | July 11, 2008 at 06:34 PM
W2b, melodious and foreboding, definitely!
Posted by: Susan T. | July 12, 2008 at 03:28 PM
I live in Baltimore, and some years back I went to a birthday celebration for Poe at the church where he's buried. There were readings, a Poe impersonator, and at the end of the night, a midnight toast on his grave. It was really fun. The annual mystery visitor is true, although I didn't see him.
Posted by: Sheila Ruth | July 12, 2008 at 10:18 PM
Sheila, what fun! I really wish I knew more about Poe, so I'm going to read up.
Have you read Laura Lippman's books? She makes Baltimore sound so interesting. She's married to David Simon of "Homicide" and "The Wire" fame.
Posted by: Susan T. | July 13, 2008 at 10:09 AM
Oh, Smalltimore is interesting, all right! It may not be apparent at first blush, but we're not like anywhere else.
You ever come, you let me know and I'll give ya a tour!
PS everything on The Wire is true.
Posted by: paula | July 14, 2008 at 08:52 PM
Paula, hey. I'm game for the tour! I've gotta rent "The Wire" on DVD. I don't know where I was when it was airing--probably lying on the couch exhausted from dealing with the shenanigans of a preschooler.
Posted by: Susan T. | July 15, 2008 at 10:31 AM