An End for the ‘Poe Toaster’

January 20, 2012

Arts & Literature, News

In the year 1949, exactly a century after the tragic, unsolved, death of author Edgar Allan Poe, a tradition began at his Baltimore gravesite that would eventually draw the attention of not only the press, but thousands of fans who would join a man affectionately known as the “Poe Toaster” on his yearly pilgrimage.  On January 19th, just before dawn, a man wearing a wide-brimmed hat, a white scarf and black clothing would leave three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac on the writer’s grave.  Until three years ago.

This year, January 19th came and went without an appearance from the Toaster — who was lately thought to be a man passed the proverbial torch in 1999.  No one knows how many Toasters there have been, or the identity of the mysterious man/men who respectfully, and faithfully, turned the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe into an event that was truly fitting for the macabre genius who gave us “The Raven”, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Masque of the Red Death”, among so many others.

Is this really an end to the tribute?  Poe House and Museum curator Jeff Jerome has come to think it is.  “It’s over with,” Jerome told the press. “It will probably hit me later, but I’m too tired now to feel anything else.”  Since 1978, the curator has yearly kept watch for the unknown man, along with a team of Poe’s most devoted fans.  To him, and so many others, it’s the end of an era.

But even if this is the end, the story of the “Poe Toaster” will continue to pay tribute — by adding to the mystery, and the legacy, that has always surrounded the death, and the works, of Edgar Allan Poe.

“And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted — nevermore!”

[Source: The Huffington Post]

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