Archives: Edgar Allan Poe

A Visit to Poe House

Sally Murphy is hosting the Poetry Friday round up today. Head down under to find all of this week’s links!

Poets, do you have a bucket list? A list of things you want to do before you — for example — turn 49?

My family and I have lived in the Baltimore suburbs for over 18 years. And for 18 years, we’ve talked about going to visit the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum in Baltimore.

I fell in love with Poe’s poetry and stories when I was in middle school. Not only was he the father of horror writing, Sherlock Holmes would not exist without Poe’s detective stories. (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle borrowed mercilessly from Poe’s story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.”) Then my children read him in middle school and my youngest became a Poe fan too. It’s kind of hard not to love this Dark Romantic author, whose poem “The Raven” was adopted by Baltimore’s pro football team. (We are the only NFL team whose name has literary roots.)

Finally, FINALLY!, we did it.

Last Saturday, my husband, 18-year-old, and I headed out to find the tiny little row-house on Amity Street where Poe lived with his aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter, his cousin (later, wife) Virginia for three years.

We paid our $5 each in a front room, then headed into what would have been the kitchen. Dark. Small! No natural light. (There would have been a door, the friendly guide said, but it led to the alley and the outhouse.) There would have been a little cook-stove, not a full fireplace big enough for a cooking pot. This — we learned — was an area of the city where itinerant families lived. The Clemm family didn’t have a lot of furniture or clothing. They were poor.

Sitting room on second floor (with those steep stairs!)

You cannot believe how narrow the stairs are. I imagined how claustrophobic this house must have been, with three and sometimes more people living here. Did the compressed space influence Poe’s writing?

The second floor is a sitting room with a fireplace. A highlight for me was this wooden box, a travel writing desk that belonged to Poe.

Poet’s travel writing desk. The museum keeps a list of works Poe is believed to have composed in this house.








Peeking into the bedroom from the top of the stairs. I can’t imagine climbing up here every day.

Another impossibly tight flight of stairs went up to the bedroom. They couldn’t have all slept here! Visiting the house gave me a new appreciation for how difficult Poe’s life must have been.


I couldn’t leave without buying you a souvenir. Check out this Edgar Allan Poe Keepsake Journal. I’m giving it away to one lucky reader. Leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered in a random drawing.

I brought back a souvenir.









Instead of posting my favorite Poe poem (“Alone”) today, I’ve got another surprise. Have you heard Sarah Jarosz musical rendition of “Annabelle Lee”?  When I hear this poem sung, I can’t help but think of young Virginia, who died of tuberculosis at age 24.



PF tag

This week’s host is Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. Irene is celebrating the launch of her new book, FRESH DELICIOUS: Poems from the Farmer’s Market.

Happy Poetry Friday. After spending the month of February writing found object poems, I’m happy to return to the “Laura’s Bookshelf” series. In Bookshelf posts, I pair a middle grade or young adult novel with a poem, to be read and enjoyed side by side.

As you know, I am a huge Doctor Who fan, dating back to my childhood, when I could only see the show on visits to my grandparents’ house in England.

Of course, I couldn’t wait to read debut author Heidi Heilig‘s book THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE. The story is set on a time traveling pirate ship and features a kick-butt heroine who is, despite her outer toughness, an introvert … just like me.

What a great read! I was swept up in Nix’s adventures, which range from modern day New York, to ancient China, and more ports of call — real and fictional. Nix and her father, who captains the ship, are both Navigators. They use maps to travel through time, space, and reality. But they are at odds. The Captain wants to return to Hawaii of the 1800s, to a time before Nix’s mother died. Nix fears that saving her mother will erase Nix from existence.

Throw in an unrequited love story with handsome thief/shipmate named Kash, and you’ll understand why it was hard to put this book down.

THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE published in February. Here is the blurb from Goodreads:

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.


Get your copy at Indiebound.

THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE is appropriate for mature middle schoolers and up.

Who will like it?

  • Fans of time travel.
  • History buffs. (There is a pulled-from-the-history-books mystery involving Hawaii of the 1800s.)
  • Adventure-readers. This books has pirates and exotic locales.

What will readers learn about?

  • What Hawaii was like as its monarchy was ending and European culture was settling on the islands.
  • How a teen might cope with a parent suffering from addiction.
  • The importance of making your own fate, instead of going along on someone else’s ride through life.

The poem I’m pairing with THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE is a favorite of mine. I chose this one because it reminds me of Nix’s father, the captain, and his endless quest to return to the woman he loves.

By Edgar Allan Poe

Gaily bedight,
   A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
   Had journeyed long,
   Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

   But he grew old,
   This knight so bold,
And o’er his heart a shadow
   Fell as he found
   No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.

   And, as his strength
   Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow;
   “Shadow," said he,
   “Where can it be,
This land of Eldorado?”

   “Over the mountains
   Of the moon,
Down the valley of the shadow,
   Ride, boldly ride,"
   The shade replied,--
“If you seek for Eldorado!”

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Pass the Jelly Babies.