Ok, we are half way through the 31 Days of Halloween, so I’d say it’s time for a post on the American epitome of the macabre.

We’ll get to the creepy stuff, but did you know these things about him?

  • Poe was a respected, if fearsome, literary critic.
  • Within the Allan home, he was part of the upper crust of Richmond society.
  • After the publication of The Raven, he became a household name and was a popular lecturer.
  • Poe enrolled as a cadet at West Point.
  • He attended grammar school in Scotland and in London.
  • The impressionist painter Manet illustrated a printing of The Raven.

In fact he wasn’t always the gaunt, disheveled recluse.  This is a small portrait of a young Poe.

And 200 years after his birth (he lived to be just 40), we are still obsessed with him — and his stories and poems.  They encompass a disintegrating house (and sanity), the murder of a vulture-eyed man, a rational detective, a buried treasure, a vengeful party guest, a portrait with a horrifying story, and a lost love.

When you look at it in a list like that, it is little wonder he has become iconic both in academia and in popular culture.  A number of Poe’s homes have been saved; one in Philadelphia is part of the National Park Service.

Poe’s wry smile graces everything from iPhone cases, hipster memes, and a fantastic app called iPoe.  There is an NFL team named for one of his poems.  When was the last time football met poetry?  There are t-shirts for you to wear and here you can put a Poe on just about anything.

So here’s to Poe, and Halloween, and being scared by stories that inflame our imagination.  And remember, “They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”

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