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“Lord help my poor soul” 

Today is the day Edgar Allan Poe died in 1849, aged 40, fevered, delirious and alone in a Baltimore hospital.  The attending physician, Dr Moran, wrote to Poe's mother-in-law, Maria Clemm, and told her that "Lord help my poor soul" were Edgar's last words.  Over the years, Moran would write further accounts of Poe's death, each time the death speech becoming more and more elaborate.  So, we really don't know what Edgar's last words may have been. 

But we do have his poetry, and as a fitting tribute to an author of such mad, exhilirating verse, here's his last stanza of "The Bells," published posthumously:

 Hear the tolling of the bells —
                     Iron bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
        In the silence of the night,
        How we shiver with affright
    At the melancholy menace of their tone!
            For every sound that floats
            From the rust within their throats
                    Is a groan.
                And the people — ah, the people —
                They that dwell up in the steeple,
                    All alone,
            And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
                In that muffled monotone,
            Feel a glory in so rolling
                On the human heart a stone —
        They are neither man nor woman —
        They are neither brute nor human —
                    They are Ghouls: —
            And their king it is who tolls: —
            And he rolls, rolls, rolls, rolls,
                A pæan from the bells!
            And his merry bosom swells
                With the pæan of the bells!
            And he dances, and he yells;
        Keeping time, time, time,
        In a sort of Runic rhyme,
                To the pæan of the bells —
                     Of the bells: —
        Keeping time, time, time,
        In a sort of Runic rhyme,
                To the throbbing of the bells —
            Of the bells, bells, bells —
                To the sobbing of the bells: —
        Keeping time, time, time,
            As he knells, knells, knells,
        In a happy Runic rhyme,
                To the rolling of the bells —
            Of the bells, bells, bells: —
                To the tolling of the bells —
      Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
                     Bells, bells, bells —
   To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

And listen to Rachmaninoff's haunting choral versionof this last stanza:

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Reader Comments (1)

Wow! I was really blown away at the 3rd International Edgar Allan Poe Conference this weekend. In one workshop presented by Albert Donnay, Univ of MD Program in Toxicology titled'The Tell Tale Hair of Edgar Allan Poet and his wife Virginia." He convinced me & attendees on "What Heavy Metal Testing Tells Us about their Live,s Illnesses and Deaths". With little doubt in me. Poe succumbed to 'Carbon Monoxide Poisoning". He will be presenting at the another Int Poe Conference in Spain in a couple weeks before he gets it published. Believe me, this tops all 'cold case'studies about Poe. I think he's 'nailed' it: the CSI- COD (Cause of Death)
October 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRic Ben-Safed

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