Friday, January 19, 2007

News: Mystery Visitor Makes 58th Appearance at Poe's Grave

The Associated Press is reporting that for the 58th straight year, a mysterious visitor left birthday cognac and roses at Edgar Allan Poe's grave in Baltimore on Friday. The curator of the Poe House and Museum, Jeff Jerome, said 55 people braved a chilly morning to glimpse the annual ritual of the mysterious visitor known as the "Poe toaster". Jerome has seen the mysterious visitor every January 19th since 1976.

According to Wikipedia, the unexplained tradition was established in 1949 and has occurred on the author's birthday (January 19) of every year since. In the early hours of the morning on that date, a black-clad figure with a silver-tipped cane enters the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in Baltimore, Maryland. The individual proceeds to Poe's grave, where he or she raises a cognac toast. Before departing, the Toaster leaves three red roses and a half-bottle of cognac on the grave. The roses are believed to represent Poe, his wife Virginia and his mother-in-law Maria Clemm, all three of whom are interred at the site. The significance of the cognac itself is unknown.

Poe was born in Boston and raised in Richmond (VA). He died Oct. 7, 1849 in Baltimore at the age of 40 after collapsing in a tavern.

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