On Sunday kisarazumama and I got up early & hit the road for Baltimore qhere we met up with strangemuses, the occasion being the grand funeral to be held at Westminster Burying Grounds in honor of the late great Edgar Allan Poe.
When poor Eddie died back in 1849 at the age of 40, he was destitute and his original funeral was attended by a mere 6 people.
This time he got the recognition he deserved and the City of Baltimore went all out to celebrate in grand, if slightly macabre style as befitting their famous deceased resident.
The funeral started with a parade originating at the Poe house on Amity street where his "body" (a recreation by special effects artists) had lain for viewing and an all night vigil. The parade was lead by the Loch Raven pipers and then by a magnificent vintage funeral hearse drawn by a dark bay and a black horse, with a parade of mourners in vintage attire following. They unloaded the casket in front of Westminster Hall and filed inside and the public with reserved tickets for this sold out event (two seatings at 12:30 PM and 4:00 PM to accommodate the crowds!) followed.
The service was officiated by the actor John Astin, most famous for his role as Gomez Addams in the TV series the Addams Family, with an introduction also by Poe House curator and main organizer Jeff Jerome who certainly did an amazing job arranging the activities for the whole year (2009 celebrating the bicentennial of the birth of Poe in 1809).
Then the eulogies started, about 18 in all starting with actors in historic attire playing the roles of people who knew Poe in life (including his attending physician at his deathbed, his friend George Lippard, former fiance Sarah Helen Whitman, his wife's nurse, famous contemporary writer Walt Whitman and early critic, biographer/detractor and plunderer of reputation, Reverend Rufus Griswold).
Next were a succession of famous creators influenced by Poe including Charles Baudelaire, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Howard Phillips Lovecraft (who started his eulogy with a few lines from his carefully wrapped tome of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred, the Necronomicon) and director Alfred Hitchcock (who started out with his trademark "Good Eve-en-ning" even tho it was only afternoon, just because it was expected of him), and then finally some actual real live people still carrying on the influence of Poe, writer and editor Ellen Datlow and ghoulish children's illustrator Gris Grimley.
Maybe it was 160 years late, but at least this artistic dark genius has gotten the tribute he deserved. I'm so glad I could attend!
Still need to head back to Baltimore soon to check out the special exhibit at the Museum of Fine Art "Edgar Allan Poe: A Baltimore Icon" including works by Gauguin, Manet, Matisse, and others, and while we are at it, pop in to the Annabel Lee Tavern for some lunch!
Many photos on my flickr -
the pallbearers - HPL clutches his verdant wrapped Necronomicon...
Poe House curator Jeff Jerome
Actor John Astin
Edgar's friends take offense to Reverend Griswald's remarks....
and assure him he is quite done as they escort him out (he also got a glass of water in the face)
Sarah Helen Whitman, who had been engaged to Poe
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
HP Lovecraft clutching his accursed tome
"iä iä cthulhu ftagn"
Howie gets a little excited
replica of original tombstone
outside at the grave
link to Ellen Datlow's LJ post about the event & her eulogy:
and more commentary & pix from my friend strangemuses