A grave I haven’t visited

Harry Clarke's illustration for "Bereneice" from the 1919 edition of Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Harry Clarke’s illustration for “Berenice” from the 1919 edition of Tales of Mystery and Imagination

I’ve never been to the grave of Edgar Allan Poe, which strikes me as a tragedy. Poe was a huge influence on me. (No surprise, is it?)  I date my love of cemeteries back to his tales of premature burial and the poem Annabel Lee.

I discovered his stories at the library the year my parents took us on an epic driving tour of the West. I remember reading a borrowed copy of Tales of Mystery and Imagination in the truck camper while it was parked outside the Denver Mint.  We were waiting for the tour to begin, so I was killing time sounding out words like sepulchre.

My mom encouraged my fascination with Poe.  On another vacation, we visited the room set aside for a shrine at the University of Virginia.  Poe hadn’t been a student there long before he was thrown out for gambling debts — but he was a student who became famous, so they celebrate him.

We also visited the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia. I don’t remember much about it, other than the tropically lush garden around the too-tall brick house.  There were manuscripts and photographs and a stuffed raven perched on the bust of Athena over the door. I would love to go back.

I always believed that my family made the journey over the border into Maryland, but my mom says that while they talked about it, Poe’s grave was out of the way. We headed off to see the graves of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson instead.

So while I’ve never stood at Poe’s grave myself, all my friends who have ever found themselves in Baltimore have visited him on my behalf.  I’ll include their photos as I feature the Westminster Hall Burying Ground tomorrow.

Maybe I can encourage one of them to relate his adventures, too.

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