"A dark unfathom'd tide Of interminable pride — A mystery, and a dream, Should my early life seem." (Edgar Allan Poe, "Imitation")
19 January 2013 marks the 204th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's birthday. And while his legacy as one of the greatest authors of the Schwarze Romantik, the Literary Gothic lives on unbroken, a tradition has developed in the 20th century around his gravesite that befits his memory in quite a unique way.
Probably since the 1930s, confirmed since 1949, a mysterious figure, a man in a black cloak and a silver tipped cane, visited Poe's original grave on Baltimore's Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in the wee hours of January 19th, toasted the dead poetaster with a glass of cognac (not sherry, mind you) and left the half empty bottle, three bouquets of roses (for Poe, his wife Virgina and his mother-in-law) and sometimes cryptical notes.
On Poe's 200th birthday in 2009, the "Poe Toaster" made his appearance for the last time, Jeff Jerome, the curator of the Baltimore Poe House and Museum, declared the tradition to be over in 2012.
The only known depiction of the Poe Toaster, was made by Bill Ballenberg and had been published along with Gary Smith's article ”Once Upon a Midnight Dreary" in July's edition of "Life" magazine.