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On October 3, 1849. Edgar Allan Poe, then just 40 years of age, was found roaming the streets of Baltimore, delirious and acting too strange to be considered sane.
According to Joseph W. Walker – the man who had found him – Poe was “in great distress, and… in need of immediate assistance.”
At least that’s what he wrote to Poe’s acquaintance, Joseph E. Snodgrass, who was a doctor and who has provided us with a very vivid description of how Poe had looked like few days before he died:
His face was haggard, not to say bloated, and unwashed, his hair unkempt, and his whole physique repulsive. His expansive forehead, with its wonderful breadth between the points where the phrenologists locate the organ of ideality — the widest I ever measured — and that full-orbed and mellow, yet soulful eye, for which he was so noticeable when himself, now lusterless and vacant, as shortly I could see, were shaded from view by a rusty, almost brimless, tattered and ribbon-less palm leaf hat.
His clothing consisted of a sack-coat of thin and sleezy black alpaca, ripped more or less at several of its seams, and faded and soiled, and pants of a steel-mixed pattern of cassinette, half-worn and badly-fitting, if they could be said to fit at all. He wore neither vest nor neck-cloth, while the bosom of his shirt was both crumpled and badly soiled. On his feet were boots of coarse material, and giving no sign of having been blacked for a long time, if at all.
So, basically, Poe was barely human, looking repulsive, and wearing clothes and shoes that couldn’t have been his.
To make matters even stranger, the only thing he was capable of uttering was the name of a certain “Reynolds.”
To this day, we have no idea who was Poe calling out for.
And we have no idea how he got to be in the state that he was in on October 3, 1849.
All we know is that four days later he died.
The list of possible reasons is rather long: alcohol or drugs, brain congestion or heart disease, rabies or cholera, tuberculosis, a suicide gone wrong (initially…)
Feels like a plot snatched right out of a detective novel, doesn’t it?
Speaking of which –
Edgar Allan Poe was the guy who invented that genre, having created the precursor to all those Sherlock Holmeses and Hercule Poirots you’ve grown to love throughout the years.
Poe’s detective is called C. Auguste Dupin and was born in his mind before the word “detective” even existed!
In addition, Edgar was one of the first guys who put the word science in “science fiction” back at a time when it was still “scientific” to think that living things are powered on abstract concepts such as “élan vitals” and “souls.”
(Yeah – how would that work?)
However, even though he invented two such beloved and popular genres, Poe is much more famous today for his horror and gothic fiction.
A tormented soul in the body of a great writer, he wrote some of the most frightening short stories ever written, one of which we’ve summarized for you right here.
He also wrote some of the most mournful, lovely and heartbreaking poems in the history of the United States, which is why we’ve listed his most beautiful love quotes in another article.
But, for now – let’s take a broader view!
Edgar Allan Poe Quotes – Top 10All that we see or seem | is but a dream within a dream. Click To Tweet Evil is a consequence of Good, so, in fact, out of Joy is sorrow born. Either the memory of past bliss is the anguish of to-day, or the agonies which are, have their origin in the ecstasies which might have been. Click To Tweet They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. Click To Tweet And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor | Shall be lifted — nevermore! Click To Tweet If you wish to forget anything upon the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered Click To Tweet It was many and many a year ago, | In a kingdom by the sea, | That a maiden lived whom you may know | By the name of Annabel Lee. Click To Tweet How many good books suffer neglect through the inefficiency of their beginnings! Click To Tweet I have great faith in fools — self-confidence my friends will call it. Click To Tweet That man is not truly brave who is afraid either to seem or to be, when it suits him, a coward. Click To Tweet I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity. Click To Tweet
We had a difficult time choosing those, since, let’s face it, Edgar Allan Poe is basically the utmost authority in the history of world’s fiction on topics such as madness, dreams, death, and all things strange and bizarre.
“He was an adventurer into the vaults and cellars and horrible underground passages of the human soul,” wrote D. H. Lawrence in 1924. “He sounded the horror and the warning of his own doom.”
Let’s see in what manner!
Quotes by Edgar Allan Poe – Short Stories
From “The Tell-Tale Heart”
TRUE! — nervous — very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?
And now have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the senses?
I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him.
From “The Black Cat”
For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad am I not — and very surely do I not dream. But to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburthen my soul.
There is something in the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of a brute, which goes directly to the heart of him who has had frequent occasion to test the paltry friendship and gossamer fidelity of mere Man.
From “The Premature Burial”
The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?
Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
Quotes by Edgar Allan Poe – Poetry
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were — I have not seen
As others saw — I could not bring
My passions from a common spring —
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow — I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone —
And all I lov’d — I lov’d alone
From “The Raven”
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing,
doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.
Quotes by Edgar Allan Poe – Marginalia
After reading all that has been written, and after thinking all that can be thought on the topics of God and the soul, the man who has a right to say that he thinks at all, will find himself face to face with the conclusion that, on these topics, the most profound thought is that which can be the least easily distinguished from the most superficial sentiment.
It is by no means an irrational fancy that, in a future existence, we shall look upon what we think our present existence, as a dream.
If any ambitious man have a fancy to revolutionize at one effort the universal world of human thought, human opinion, and human sentiment, the opportunity is his own — the road to immortal renown lies straight, open, and unencumbered before him. All that he has to do is to write and publish a very little book. Its title should be simple — a few plain words — “My Heart Laid Bare.” But — this little book must be true to its title.
In reading some books we occupy ourselves chiefly with the thoughts of the author; in perusing others, exclusively with our own.
Quotes by Edgar Allan Poe – Essays
From “The Philosophy of Composition”
The death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world.
From “The Poetic Principle”
A poem deserves its title only inasmuch as it excites, by elevating the soul. The value of the poem is in the ratio of this elevating excitement. But all excitements are, through a psychal necessity, transient.
I hold that a long poem does not exist. I maintain that the phrase, “a long poem,” is simply a flat contradiction in terms.
We’re not done!
We purposefully left out some of the most famous quotes by Poe because we wanted to include them in our selection of his most beautiful love quotes.
Stay tuned for those!
We promise: you will not be disappointed!