Sunday, August 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Virginia Clemm Poe

"...In this humble domicile I can say, that I have spent some of the pleasantest hours of my life--certainly some of the most intellectual. They were passed in the company of the poet himself, and his wife--a lady angelically beautiful in person and not less beautiful in spirit. No one who remembers that dark-eyed, dark-haired daughter of Virginia--her own name, if I rightly remember--her grace, her facial beauty, her demeanor, so modest as to be remarkable--no one who has ever spent an hour in her company but will endorse what I have above said. I remember how we, the friends of the poet, used to talk of her high qualities. And when we talked of her beauty, I well knew that the rose-tint upon her cheek was too bright, too pure to be of Earth. It was consumption's color--that sadly beautiful light that beckons to an early tomb..."

"...I saw before me a man [Poe] to whom vulgar rumor had attributed those personal graces supposed to attract the admiration of women. This is the usual description given of him in biographical sketches. And why, I cannot tell, unless it has been done to round off a piquant paragraph. His was a face purely intellectual. Women might admire it, thinking of this; but it is doubtful if many of them ever fell, or could have fallen, in love with the man to whom it belonged. I don't think many ever did. It was enough for one man to be beloved by one such woman as he had for his wife."
-Mayne Reid, writing of Edgar and Virginia Poe in "A Dead Man Defended," "Onward" magazine, April 1869

"This “evil” was the greatest which can befall a man. Six years ago, a wife, whom I loved as no man ever loved before, ruptured a blood-vessel in singing. Her life was despaired of. I took leave of her forever & underwent all the agonies of her death. She recovered partially and I again hoped. At the end of a year the vessel broke again--I went through precisely the same scene. Again in about a year afterward. Then again--again--again & even once again at varying intervals. Each time I felt all the agonies of her death--and at each accession of the disorder I loved her more dearly & clung to her life with more desperate pertinacity. But I am constitutionally sensitive--nervous in a very unusual degree. I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity. During these fits of absolute unconsciousness I drank, God only knows how often or how much. As a matter of course, my enemies referred the insanity to the drink rather than the drink to the insanity. I had indeed, nearly abandoned all hope of a permanent cure when I found one in the death of my wife. This I can & do endure as becomes a man--it was the horrible never-ending oscillation between hope & despair which I could not longer have endured without the total loss of reason. In the death of what was my life, then, I receive a new but--oh God! how melancholy an existence."
-Edgar Allan Poe, letter to George W. Eveleth, January 4, 1848

The Sleeper Edgar Allan Poe
"The lady sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,
Which is enduring, so be deep!
Heaven have her in its sacred keep!
This chamber changed for one more holy,
This bed for one more melancholy,
I pray to God that she may lie
Forever with unopened eye,
While the pale sheeted ghosts go by!"