The early morning hours of January 19, the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe, have been marked every year since 1949, at least, by the appearance at his Baltimore grave of a “mysterious visitor” who leaves three roses and a bottle of cognac in apparent tribute to the poetical old drunk. And every year reporters wait there with a gaggle of Poe fans to see him.
In 2007 a preservationist named Sam Porpora confessed that he had cooked the visits up as “promotional idea” in the 60s, and that the visits theretofore were fabrications, but most enthusiasts discounted that, pointing to early newspaper accounts of the visit.
So this year they came to keep vigil again — and no visitor appeared.
Disappointed watchers, some of whom had flown in from as far away as Texas, tried to come up with possible reasons. “The flu, accident, too many people,” suggests one.
Our own conclusion: the visitor was up all night watching Saw I-VI on DVD, during which time he drank the cognac himself, and decided that if this was what passed for Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque in our time, maybe he’d better stop going to Poe’s grave, and start haunting Star Trek conventions.