But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eve. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man’s terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment! –do you mark me well I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me –the sound would be heard by a neighbour!
– Edgar Allan Poe – The Tell-Tale Heart
Normally I would hesitate to post two images that as so similar this close together, but given the material presented, I couldn’t help myself given the connection between the two images.
Below you’ll see a portrait of Edgar Allan Poe that Godsandmonsters uploaded. Now because I was a lit major in university, tattoos tied to works of literature tend to catch my eye. So when I saw Poe looking back at me, I knew I had to take a closer look. One of the great things about Poe (aside from his writing) is that he always has a sort of haunted look about him. Throughout his troubled life he was orphaned, served in the military, eventually started writing, married his 13 year old cousin who died still very young, became an alcoholic and eventually died in a bizarre manner. You see, the night that Poe died, he was found on the street rambling about someone named “Reynolds”. He was rushed to the hospital where it was discovered that he was wearing someone else’s clothes. The eventual cause of death was determined to be some sort of brain trauma, although all records have since been destroyed. In the years following his death, a jealous rival came into control over Poe’s literary holdings, and worked hard to destroy Poe’s reputation.
But let’s take a step back. While Poe was writing a good deal of his works dealt with death and loss. These of course intensified after the loss of his wife. Given his personal history, it was clear that his abandonment when he was a child, and the deaths of those around him contributed greatly to his works, but he also drew upon the works of others for inspiration. In one specific instance, Keats’ poem “The Lamia” played a significant role in the inspiration of one of Poe’s sonnets. ”To Science“, one of Poe’s earlier works, specifically refers to Keats’ poem (lines 229-238) in addition to using lines that echo lines from “The Lamia”. The argument behind Poe’s sonnet is that as science is expanding it is taking away the mysteries of the world, and in doing so is ruining the world for poets as they look to the mysteries of the world for inspiration.
So now look to yourself. Do you think Poe ended up being right? Did science and the modern age ruin the mysteries of the world? Or is it still there, waiting to be discovered again by poets and artists all over the world?
As for myself, I still think there is enough mystery out there, maybe not the same mysteries that Poe was searching for, but new ones for a new generation to discover.
While we’re on the subject of artists, do you happen to have any art on yourself that you want to share? BME is always looking for new submissions, and if you’re not a member yet, head on over to the main page and sign up. Those of you who are members can also check out Godsandmonsters‘ story of getting tattooed. While ModBlog shows of some of the great pieces submitted every day, there are hundreds more submitted all the time that are just as good, if not better.