Akrita Reyar Funerals rarely make for happy events. But this Sunday, when the requiem is played 160 years after the death of a literary great, it will be an occasion less ordinary.
But then Edgar Allan Poe’s life and death were anything but mundane. A poet and writer of dark literature, his end was more miserable and final see-off more eccentric than all his life’s twisted realities. Orphaned young, he was raised by benevolent relations, whom he fell out with soon enough, perhaps because of his own follies. Poe lived in days that were steeped in poverty. Alcohol was the only escape. Unable to keep a steady job, he lied to get enlisted into the American Army. Soon disenchanted, he left the service and took to writing stories as a means of livelihood. Sinister images of his past and shadow of the trauma that he suffered, whether real or convoluted, appeared in the form of those Gothic words, which have become exemplary in literature. His murky descriptions and detective works are considered path breaking and his works are classified under the American Romantic Movement. Poe traversed through life from tragedy to despair and finally ended in the pit of wretchedness. There is no conclusive evidence of his life’s final days, but he is believed to have been found dumped in a gutter on October 3, 1849. Four days later, on October 7, he perhaps died in a hospital wishing for death as means to end his agony. His final words are said to be: “Lord, help my poor soul.” Worse, less than 10 people are believed to have turned up for his funeral, which concluded in just 3 minutes, without a tear shed. But this Sunday, readers of his books and fans, will gather for two ceremonies where a recreated life-size body of his will be carried on a horse-driven carriage from his Baltimore home to the burial ground. Over 700 people are expected to gather, some of whom have even traveled from overseas. Prayers and speeches, besides the recognition that his works have already got, will mark the elaborate functions. While Edgar Allan Poe has already left a rich legacy in the form of his oeuvre, this terribly belated farewell is clearly meant to be a payback for the love and remembrance of a man whose years were spent in foreboding gloom. May he finally find peace!