Edgar Allan Poe

Today marks the 203rd anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth. If you want to read great writing, read Poe. It might help you with your own writing. He was a master at the short story, the creator of the detective story, and had a great way of scaring the dickens out of the reader!

Here’s his master work: The Raven, interpreted by Christopher Walken.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wj1DRQs9AQ&w=420&h=345]

Here are some powerful Poe quotes, either from his works or in reference to his own life.

They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. (from “Eleonora”)

I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity. (In reference to the period before his wife’s death)

Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence– whether much that is glorious– whether all that is profound– does not spring from disease of thought– from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect.

I was never really insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched.


Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.

(from the poem “Dream Within a Dream”)

The true genius shudders at incompleteness – and usually prefers silence to saying something which is not everything it should be.

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? (from “Premature Burial”)

TRUE! nervous, very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why WILL you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses, not destroyed, not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How then am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily, how calmly, I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain, but, once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture — a pale blue eye with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me my blood ran cold, and so by degrees, very gradually, I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye for ever.
(the opening to “The Tell-Tale Heart”)