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Among decorated lamp posts, a tribute to the work that won Poe fame

The lamp posts on “StreetmosFear” are all decked out for the big weekend: cobwebs, spiders, skeletons, goblins and witches dangle from their black wrought-iron crossbars and climb up their vertical poles.  See photo slideshow, below.

A “No Vacancy” sign is up at the “Dead and Breakfast.”

Portrait of Edgar Allan Poe by Friedrich Bruckmann (1876) from the Poe Museum in Richmond, Va.
Portrait of Edgar Allan Poe by Friedrich Bruckmann (1876) from the Poe Museum in Richmond, Va.

The lamp post outside the First Congregational Church is an ode to the masterful storyteller to whom this weekend’s downtown spooktacular is dedicated: Edgar Allan Poe, whose stern visage stares out from a gravestone etching draped in purple. Ivy climbs up the pole and creeps around the gravestone. At its base, another mock granite headstone proclaims “NEVERMORE” and bears an image of the “ungainly fowl” that came tapping on the bedroom door of the narrator is Poe’s celebrated poem, The Raven.”

Poe, who died this month in 1849 at age 40 — under circumstances and for reasons that remain unclear — was an American writer, poet and literary critic best known today for his macabre tales and poems. As he tired to earn a living by writing, Poe struggled financially his entire life.

His publication of “The Raven” in 1845 made Poe a household name. He became a magazine publisher but the venture failed and his wife — a cousin whom he’d married in 1835 when she was 13 years old — fell gravely ill with tuberculosis, a disease that had already killed his mother (when he was 2 years old), brother and foster mother. His life spiraled downward after her death in 1847.

“Poe was devastated, and was unable to write for months. His critics assumed he would soon be dead. They were right,” according to a biography on the website of the Poe Museum.

His most celebrated work during his lifetime, “The Raven” is the tale of a man grieving the loss of his lover who is visited in his bedroom and haunted by a raven. The bird perches on a “pallid bust of Pallas” — Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, the arts, law and justice — above his chamber door. Its “fiery eyes,” the narrator despairs, “burned into my bosom’s core.” His increasingly frantic pleas — first for answers, then merely to be left alone — are answered by the raven with just one word: “Nevermore.”

2014_1030_poe_raven1And 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’s 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!

“The Raven” is one of the Poe Festival’s featured “Tales of Terror,” presented by author Regina Calcaterra at 2 p.m. on Halloween at Digger’s Ales and Eats, 58 West Main St., and by author Ronna S. Kurash at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Ralph’s Italian Ices, 309 East Main St.

See complete schedule of Poe Festival shows, readings, events and activities.

 

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website. Email Denise.