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In A Brown Study, 16 D

September 26, 2016

“I was a child and she was a child, in this kingdom by the sea.

Yet we loved with the love that was more than a love, I and my Annabel Lee.”

Lying about her age, Edgar Allan Poe and his cousin Virginia Clemm married in 1836. What possessed a man of 27 to marry a 13 year old child? He called her “sis” and “my little wifey”, and she never grew old. She was not beautiful, a “little plump” they said. She had hair black as a raven’s wing, violet eyes, and a pale face with an unearthly look. “I see no one among the living as beautiful as my wife,” he said, and she idolized him. Perhaps it was her spectral appearance or her youth and innocence he admired and envied. Perhaps it was the poet’s desire to protect an innocent or live vicariously.

In January, 1842, while singing and playing the piano, Virginia Poe hemorrhaged, beginning a five year battle with tuberculosis. She had days of feeling well and days of coping with illness. Poe became despondent, turning to alcohol and other women. “Each time (she relapses) I become insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.” His wife died at their home near Fordham, The Bronx, New York City at age 24.

“Take this kiss upon the brow, and in parting from you now, thus much let me avow, that my life has been a dream.” Was ever a man so distraught?

“And the moon never beams without bringing me dreams of the beautiful Annabel Lee,

And so all the night-tide, I lie down by the side of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,

In her sepulcher there by there by the sea — in her tomb by the side of the sea.”

Edgar Allan Poe tried for two years after his wife died to stabilize his life. His old flame Elmira Shelton, now a wealthy widow, would marry him if he would stop drinking. He promised, but the next morning he was found in a bar. Her mother-in-law intervened and stopped the wedding. He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Several weeks later Poe was found passed out on the cold and rainy streets of Baltimore, ill, drunk or both, but delirious and penniless and someone had stolen his coat.Taken to a hospital, Poe died on October 7, 1849, broke and friendless. “Now doubt — Now pain– Come never again.”

I hear the clanging of the bells. His poems and stories remain, a reminder of his short unhappy life.


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