The first time Edgar Allan Poe died, no one really noticed. In 1849, at age 40, the macabre poet prince was discovered drunk, delirious, and penniless outside a Baltimore watering hole. Four days later, he died of unknown causes—the best guesses include alcoholism, cholera, rabies, tuberculosis, heart disease, or suicide. And let’s just say that his funeral was not a success. His death was never announced publicly, fewer than 10 people attended, Poe’s tombstone was destroyed by a derailed train, and Rufus Griswold, a long-time frenemy, published a slanderous obituary that damaged Poe’s reputation forever. But it’s never too late to get a second chance at death.
One-hundred and sixty years later, to mark the 200th year since his birth, the Poe House and Museum in Baltimore is calling a do-over. The festivities started with a reenactment of Poe’s death. A special-effects artist was commissioned to create a mock-up of Poe’s corpse, which went on display yesterday before an all-night vigil at Poe’s grave at Westminster Burying Ground. This Sunday morning, a horse-drawn carriage will transport the body from his former home to the graveyard, where more than 700 people will greet the corpse for two funeral ceremonies. Actor John Astin, best known as Gomez Addams on “The Addams Family,” will serve as the emcee for the day. And that’s not all … there will be lots of eulogies from actors dressed as friends and foes of Poe, including Rufus Griswold. Actors will also perform eulogies by Walt Whitman and Sarah Helen Whitman, a poet whom Poe had an affair with. Writers and artists influenced by Poe, like Arthur Conan Doyle and Alfred Hitchcock, will also be there. Talk about macabre. [AOL]