Tomorrow's Haunted Houses.
Saturday, November 10, 2018
Thursday, November 1, 2018
To -- -- --. Ulalume: A Ballad
by EDGAR ALLAN POE
The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crispéd and sere—
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year;
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir—
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.
Here once, through an alley Titanic,
Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul—
Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.
These were days when my heart was volcanic
As the scoriac rivers that roll—
As the lavas that restlessly roll
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek
In the ultimate climes of the pole—
That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
In the realms of the boreal pole.
Our talk had been serious and sober,
But our thoughts they were palsied and sere—
Our memories were treacherous and sere—
For we knew not the month was October,
And we marked not the night of the year—
(Ah, night of all nights in the year!)
We noted not the dim lake of Auber—
(Though once we had journeyed down here)—
We remembered not the dank tarn of Auber,
Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.
And now, as the night was senescent
And star-dials pointed to morn—
As the star-dials hinted of morn—
At the end of our path a liquescent
And nebulous lustre was born,
Out of which a miraculous crescent
Arose with a duplicate horn—
Astarte's bediamonded crescent
Distinct with its duplicate horn.
And I said—"She is warmer than Dian:
She rolls through an ether of sighs—
She revels in a region of sighs:
She has seen that the tears are not dry on
These cheeks, where the worm never dies,
And has come past the stars of the Lion
To point us the path to the skies—
To the Lethean peace of the skies—
Come up, in despite of the Lion,
To shine on us with her bright eyes—
Come up through the lair of the Lion,
With love in her luminous eyes."
But Psyche, uplifting her finger,
Said—"Sadly this star I mistrust—
Her pallor I strangely mistrust:—
Oh, hasten! oh, let us not linger!
Oh, fly!—let us fly!—for we must."
In terror she spoke, letting sink her
Wings till they trailed in the dust—
In agony sobbed, letting sink her
Plumes till they trailed in the dust—
Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust.
I replied—"This is nothing but dreaming:
Let us on by this tremulous light!
Let us bathe in this crystalline light!
Its Sybilic splendor is beaming
With Hope and in Beauty to-night:—
See!—it flickers up the sky through the night!
Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming,
And be sure it will lead us aright—
We safely may trust to a gleaming
That cannot but guide us aright,
Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night."
Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,
And tempted her out of her gloom—
And conquered her scruples and gloom:
And we passed to the end of the vista,
But were stopped by the door of a tomb—
By the door of a legended tomb;
And I said—"What is written, sweet sister,
On the door of this legended tomb?"
'Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!"
Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
As the leaves that were crispèd and sere—
As the leaves that were withering and sere,
And I cried—"It was surely October
On this very night of last year
That I journeyed—I journeyed down here—
That I brought a dread burden down here—
On this night of all nights in the year,
Oh, what demon has tempted me here?
Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber—
This misty mid region of Weir—
Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber—
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir."
Said we, then—the two, then—"Ah, can it
Have been that the woodlandish ghouls—
The pitiful, the merciful ghouls—
To bar up our way and to ban it
From the secret that lies in these wolds—
From the thing that lies hidden in these wolds—
Had drawn up the spectre of a planet
From the limbo of lunary souls—
This sinfully scintillant planet
From the Hell of the planetary souls?"
#EdgarAllenPoe #EdgarAllanPoe #Ulalume
Saturday, October 13, 2018
Poe was a connoisseur of the supernatural. As the author of Coffee with Poe: A Novel of Edgar Allan Poe's Life, I am sometimes asked if Poe had a favorite ghost story.
Truth be told, Poe was quite clear on his favorite ghost story--or at least his favorite by an American, which I believe is a dig at Charles Dickens and his bias toward British literature. The pick is also, perhaps a dig at Washington Irving whose "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "A Tale of the German Student" (both included in the best ghost stories anthology for the first half of the 19th century) branded him the best American ghost story writer during Poe's day.
The ghost story is by William Gilmore Simms and is titled Murder Will Out. I don't, however, agree with Poe since I did not place it in my scariest ghost stories from 1800-1849. This is what Poe had to say about the scary ghost story in his review (published posthumously in 1850) of Simm's collection of short stories: "The Wigwam and the Cabin."
All the tales in this collection have merit, and the first has merit of a very peculiar kind. “Grayling, or Murder will Out,” is the title. The story was well received in England, but on this fact no opinion can be safely based. “The Athenæum,” we believe, or some other of the London weekly critical journals, having its attention called (no doubt through personal influence) to Carey & Hart’s beautiful annual “The Gift,” found it convenient, in the course of its notice, to speak at length of some one particular article, and “Murder Will Out” probably arrested the attention of the sub-editor who was employed in so trivial a task as the patting on the head an American book — arrested his attention first from its title, (murder being a taking theme with a cockney,) and secondly, from its details of southern forest scenery. Large quotations were made, as a matter of course, and very ample commendation bestowed — the whole criticism proving nothing, in our opinion, but that the critic had not read a single syllable of the story. The critique, however, had at least the good effect of calling American attention to the fact that an American might possibly do a decent thing, (provided the possibility were first admitted by the British sub-editors,) and the result was first, that many persons read, and secondly, that all persons admired the “excellent story in ‘The Gift’ that had actually been called ‘readable’ by one of the English newspapers.”
Now had “Murder Will Out” been a much worse story than was ever written by Professor Ingraham, still, under the circumstances, we patriotic and independent Americans would have declared it inimitable; but, by some species of odd accident, it happened to deserve all that the British sub-sub had condescended to say of it, on the strength of a guess as to what it was all about. It is really an admirable tale, nobly conceived and skilfully carried into execution — the best ghost-story ever written by an American — for we presume that this is the ultimate extent of commendation to which we, as an humble American, dare go.
The other stories of the volume do credit to the author’s abilities, and display their peculiarities in a strong light, but there is no one of them so good as “Murder Will Out.”
#PoeghostStory #BestghostStories #MurderWillOut
Posted by Andrew Barger at 2:02 PM
Friday, September 28, 2018
This week the world was astonished to learn that the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) landed two "hopping rovers" on an asteroid named Ryugu that is 186 million miles from earth. Watch the video above.
Perhaps even more astonishingly is that a science fiction short story published in 1835 told about landing on a comet, which essentially is an asteroid with ice particles. The British tale was titled "Glimpses of Other Worlds" and it told of a ride on a comet (after visiting the sun, of course) that was controlled by "a phial or two of concentrated essence of gravitation."
You can read the amazing short story in Mesaerion: The Best Science Fiction Stories 1800-1849. Enjoy!
#AsteroidStories #LandingonAsteroid #BestScienceFictionStories
Saturday, September 22, 2018
Edgar Allan Poe
Today we do not think of Edgar Allan Poe as the church-going type. There is a humorous account of Poe attending a service in New York City after taking the train 14 miles from his cottage in Fordham, New York. Poe even told how he thought he would make a good priest.
On Christmas Eve 1847, Marie Louise Shew (nurse to Edgar and Virginia prior to her death in January of that year) coaxed Poe into attending a midnight service conducted by Reverend William Augustus Muhlenberg at his protestant episcopal church. The church was located at the corner of Sixth and Twentieth Streets in New York City. Shew recounted the service and Poe’s nervousness while listening along with Shew’s unnamed “lady friend.” I believe the lady friend was Frances Osgood.
Poe came: "to town to go to a midnight service with a Lady friend and myself. He went with us, followed the service like a ‘churchman,’ looking directly towards the chancel, and holding one side of my prayer book, sang the psalms with us, and to my astonishment struck up a tenor to our sopranos and, got along nicely during the first part of the sermon, which was on the subject of the sympathies of our Lord, to our wants. The passage being often repeated, ‘He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.’ He begged me to stay quiet that he would wait for me outside, and he rushed out, too excited to stay. I knew he would not leave us to return home alone, (altho’ my friend thought it doubtful), and so after the sermon as I began to feel anxious (as we were in a strange church) I looked back and saw his pale face, and as the congregation rose to sing the Hymn, ‘Jesus Saviour of my soul,’ he appeared at my side, and sang the Hymn, without looking at the book, in a fine clear tenor. He looked inspired! And no wonder. He imagined he would have made a successful orator, and priest — I did not dare to ask him why he left, but he mentioned after we got home, that the subject ‘was marvelously handled, and ought to have melted many hard hearts’ and ever after this he never passed Doctor Muhlenberg’s 20th St. Free Church without going in, if the doors were open. He considered Dr. M. a wonderful man, ‘with a large heart for his kind, superlatively so!’ as he proved to be, as we owe St. Luke’s Hospital, to his influence and many other charities!!!”
#EdgarAllanPoe #MariaShew "StLukesHospital
Sunday, September 9, 2018
I recently came across this thoughtful review of The Best Ghost Short Stories 1800-1849 that I edited and thought my blog readers might find it of interest during this fall time of year. By ElizaJane:
Reason for Reading: I have a particular interest in the Gothic story and my favorite literature time period is the Victorian era, which admittedly doesn't start until 1837. But both the time frame of this book and the life works of the included authors does fall within my preferred historical reading period.
This is a fine collection of ghost stories. Andrew Barger has done an excellent job of combining the familiar with the obscure both in title and author selection. He has written an interesting, engaging introduction to the topic and his choices of stories. From this introduction the reader knows they have an editor who knows the literary time period and genre being presented. Preceding each story is an introduction by the editor with background information on the story and the author in relation to the particular story.
This is invaluable reading and is a joy for the reader to have this contemporary insight before proceeding with the story. I always appreciate an anthology that introduces each story. Following the collection of nine stories, is a long list of stories from which Andrew Barger read to select those he called "best" for this collection. This would make a great reading list for the enthusiast! I found most of the stories very good, with several excellent, only a couple merely good and just one less than satisfying. Mr. Barger has several other books which I look like they would make excellent reading. The stories included and my impressions:
1. Adventure of the German Student by Washington Irving - A depressed German student goes to "gay Paree" for his health, unfortunately it's just as the French Revolution gets underway. Sickened by the blood of the guillotine he becomes a recluse and dreams of a woman. One night as he takes a walk, the only time he'll ever leave his flat, he meets the woman of his dreams, and has an encounter that literally drives him insane. Good, even though I'm not a huge Irving fan. 3/5
2. The Old Maid in the Winding Sheet by Nathaniel Hawthorne - Two women who loved the same man who dies young make a pact to meet up again in the room of his deathbed, in the distant future. One to go on and make something of her life, the other to stay in the village, a recluse, following death. This was pretty creepy and I enjoyed it a lot. Hawthorne is hit and miss with me. I don't like his novels but his stories usually win me over, as did this. 4/5
3. A Night in a Haunted House by Anonymous - This was an ideal ghost story. A naysayer after hearing the story of a haunted house, from a parson no doubt, asks to spend the night in the abandoned house to prove there are no such things as ghosts, only overactive imaginations. Needless to say he has an eerie evening and becomes a believer. This is a long short story, clocking in at 30 pages and a very good read. Really two stories in one, first the parson's story and then the other man's story; I can imagine how it would have hit the sensibilities of the public at the time it was written (1848) being quite creepy and containing the classic qualities of both the ghost and Gothic story. For the modern reader it's not hard to guess the twist at the end fairly early into the second part of the story, but still it is an eerie, fun story and one I enjoyed a lot. A classic ghost story of this era (5/5)
4. The Story of the Spectral Ship by Wilhelm Hauff - A new-to-me author, here with a Flying Dutchman type of ghost ship story. The main characters are Muslim, making it rather unique for its time. A well-told eerie ghost tale. I'd love to read more of the author. (5/5)
5. The Tapestried Chamber by Sir Walter Scott - I wasn't looking forward to this story as Scott always brings to my mind his horrible historicals such as "Ivanhoe" and his wretched poetry. I didn't know he was a fan of this genre as well, so was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this classic tale of an upstanding military General spending the night in an haunted room. Tame by today's standard's but a disturbing story nevertheless. (5/5)
6. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving - Everyone knows this tale from one source or another. I've read it before and didn't like. It is long, Irving's writing is too old-fashioned for me and I just don't find the story scary or creepy. It's been about 8 years, so I gave it another go, but found it just as boring as I previously always do. (2/5)
7. The Mask of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe - I've read Poe many times. This is classic! Extremely creepy, the images the words create in your mind are just impossible to render in visual media. It is very debatable whether this is a ghost story, though. I've never thought of it as such. The character, to me, here is Death, or Disease manifested, not a ghost. Nevertheless a fine story! 5/5
8. A Chapter in the History of a Tyrone Family by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu - With one short story left to go I don't think it's too early to call this long short story the "piece de resistance" of this collection. A masterpiece of a story whose plot has been retold numerous times by now but as the original still manages to thrill and shock. The plot follows a theme used in Jane Eyre and yet pre-dates that classic by 8 years prompting the editor to include an afterword to this story alone that convincingly suggests Bronte "borrowed" from it. I'm not very familiar with Fanu's work but I would certainly like to explore him further! 5/5
9. The Deaf and Dumb Girl by Anonymous - This is another fin example of an eerie ghost story that tells the tale of a tragic used, spurned woman whose spirit waits for the return of her ruthless lover to exact revenge upon him. This is an obscure story the editor says has not been published since its original appearance in 1839. A chilling tale to end the volume with! 4/5
Buy Tonight - Best Ghost Short Stories 1800-1849
#BestGhostStories #BestGhostShortStories #BestGhostAnthology
Sunday, August 26, 2018
A few weeks ago, while visiting Boston, I took a day trip to lovely Providence, Rhode Island. The city is oozing with history. This is especially true on Benefit Street where wealthy socialites of the early to mid-nineteenth centuries built their large homes.
On 88 Benefit Street lived poet Sarah Helen Whitman--one of Edgar Allan Poe's fiancees late in his life. After an invite from Anne Lynch in New York, Whitman sent Poe a valentine.
To Edgar Allan Poe
Oh! thou grim and ancient Raven,
From the Night’s Plutonic shore,
Oft in dreams, thy ghastly pinions
Wave and flutter round my door —
Oft thy shadow dims the moonlight
Sleeping on my chamber floor.
Romeo talks of “White dove trooping,
Amid crows athwart the night:’
But to see thy dark wing swooping
Down the silvery path of light,
Amid swans and dovelets stooping,
Were to me, a nobler sight.
Oft amid the twilight glooming
Round some grim ancestral tower
In the lurid distance looming,
I can see thy pinions lower, —
Hear thy sullen storm-cry booming
Thro’ the lonely midnight hour.
Oft this work-day world forgetting,
From its toil curtain’d snug,
By the sparkling embers sitting
On the richly broidered rug,
Something round about me flitting
Glimmers like a “Golden Bug.”
Dreamily its path I follow,
In a “bee line” to the moon
Till, into some dreamy hollow
Of the midnight sinking soon,
Lo! he glides away before me
And I lose the golden boon.
Oft like Proserpine I wander
On the Night’s Plutonic shore,
Hoping, fearing, while I ponder
On thy loved and lost Lenore,
Till thy voice like distant thunder
Sounds across the distant moor.
From thy wing, one purple feather
Wafted o’er my chamber floor
Like a shadow o’er the heather,
Charms my vagrant fancy more
Than all the flowers I used to gather
On “Idalia’s velvet shore.”
Then, Oh! Grim and Ghastly Raven!
Wilt thou to my heart and ear
Be a Raven true as ever
Flapped his wings and croaked “Despair”?
Not a bird that roams the forest
Shall our lofty eyrie share.
Whitman did not attend that gathering of literati in New York City and neither did Poe in 1848, but Frances Osgood delivered the poem to Poe and it was published shortly thereafter. After a rather brief courtship with Edgar Allan Poe, the two gothic poets became engaged in fall of 1848.
Given the language in Poe's "To Helen" poem to Whitman, which says he first saw her in a beautiful rose garden, it is believed the rose garden shown in the back of the house is where Poe first glimpsed Whitman.
It was later revealed that Poe saw Whitman standing near the front door of her home as he strolled Benefit street with Frances Osgood in 1845. Osgood wanted to introduce Poe, but he refused for unknown reasons.
The home is still lived in today. Sadly there is no sign out front that the home used be where Sarah Helen Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe's fiancée lived for many years. An account of Poe and the romance he had with Whitman is laid out in Coffee with Poe: A Novel of Edgar Allan Poe's Life. Enjoy.
#SarahHelenWhitman #EdgarAllanPoe #CoffeeWithPoe