The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe
“All we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream.”
If you look closely enough, a glimpse of every writer’s life can be seen through their stories; be it deep pain, hopefulness, joy, or curiosity. What we express through ink and paper is undoubtedly filtered through our own subconscious, oftentimes leaving remnants of ourselves.
Treasured poet, Edgar Allan Poe, had a tendency to do just this. In one of his most famous poems, A Dream Within a Dream, Poe questions a loss of reality. “You are not wrong, who deem that my days have been a dream.”
Though it is a short poem consisting of only two stanzas, each word plays a notable part in the poem’s entirety. He vividly describes the difference between dreams and reality and suggests that neither one is more real than a dream. It’s filled with a confused wisdom; an acknowledgement of life’s uncertainty. Uncertainty, of which would, later on, be the essence of his own death.
Set to embark on a ferry trip around the Northeast, Poe suddenly disappeared, only to be found five days later behind a tavern bar in Baltimore, in an entirely disoriented state of mind. He died shortly after, leaving behind him over a century of wonder. It was as if Poe’s writing, so filled with darkness and intrigue, foreshadowed his own death. Literary rivals jumped at the chance to paint an image of a drunken man, a washed-up writer with little going for him, laying on the dirty street in dirty clothing. Meanwhile doctors suggested tuberculosis, rabies, or lesions on the brain. Or had Poe been a victim of violent crime, a byproduct of voter fraud (called cooping) in his last days? The curiosity surrounding Poe’s mysterious and sudden death has never ended, confusing historians and medical practitioners for over a century.
Born in the winter of 1809, Edgar Poe was predisposed to pain.
His father struggled with alcoholism and abandoned the family soon after he was born. Only three years later, his mother passed away. Abruptly orphaned at three years old, Edgar Poe was sent to live with a foster family, a tobacco merchant named John Allan, and his wife. They adored him for his beauty and talent and even…