Thursday, January 17, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday - The Radio & Edgar Allen Poe

It was 1972 we were living in Concord, New Hampshire.  I was a housewife raising four children the youngest only twelve months old.  I loved listening to the radio as I went about doing the things that a young wife and mother do around the house.  No time to sit and watch TV but the radio was always on.

Being a lover of books, especially old books, something being announced on the radio caught my attention .  Someone was selling five books containing ten volumes about Edgar Allen Poe.  The asking price was $25, a rather hefty sum for us at the time where every nickle counted, but I couldn't resist.

I made the call to the woman who was selling them and told her I would be by later that day to purchase them.  That afternoon I collected my treasure and brought them home. 

Later that evening, after the children were bathed and put to bed, I sat down with my new purchase  and examined them with great care.  Some of the pages had never been slit apart so you couldn't see what was written in between.   Whomever owned these books not only loved Poe but loved poetry in general.  It was also clear that he loved distinguished American Literati.  A chapter in the book gives information about many authors that includes a sample of their handwriting.

The book had every story and poem that Poe had ever written.  To my surprise, inside each book were many newspaper clippings mostly about Poe but some of other poets as well who all mention Poe in one way or another.  One clipping read: "Author of 'Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight' Dies; aged 89", (1939) Rose Hartwick Thorpe, victim of heart attack. 

The oldest newspaper clipping I found was dated 1918.  "Hard Work Wins", Sir Fredrick Taves, a noted British Surgeon, said that hard work counts far more than brilliancy.  Brilliancy, like genius, is an accident.  It is born, not made. The world would be a dull, flat plane intellectually if it did not throw up brilliant people.  Hard work would never have given us Shakespeare, Beethoven, Keat, Heine, Poe, of Shelley. Woe to them who expect brilliancy alone to give them the success that is worthy and enduring.

Poe was a struggling writer whos works were rejected again and again but he worked hard and persevered.  In 1933 an article "Poe in an Informal Mood" stated, Poe was very far from being the stark, solemn, unsmiling figure that so many picture him.  he could even laugh at himself.  When he had won the hundred dollar prize in 1833, and Mr. Latrobe, one of the committee of award, asked the unknown young writer what else he had for publication, he replied that "he was engaged on a voyage to the moon".  He then apologized for his excitability, which he laughed at himself.

All that I find, all that I see, all that read, not only puts Poe into a previously unknown perspective for me, but also gave me information on all the other brilliant writers of that time.  I'm so glad I was listening to the radio that day.



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