Text: Anonymous, “Death of Edgar A. Poe,” Baltimore Patriot and Commercial Gazette (Baltimore, MD), October 8, 1849, vol. 70, no. 83, p. 2, cols. 2-3


[page 2, column 2:]


We sincerely regret to hear of the melancholy death of EDGAR A. POE, who expired in this city on Sunday morning about five o'clock, at the early age of 38 years, after an illness of about a week. His disease was congestion of the brain.

Mr. Poe was equally remarkable for his genius and his acquirements. He enjoyed uncommon advantages of early education, having spent his boyhood at a school in the neighborhood of London, and afterwards received instruction at William and Mary College, and West Point. These advantages were improved with considerable assiduity, and by the time he reached his majority he had acquired accomplishments rarely attained by men far more advanced in years. He was acquainted, in a greater or less [[lesser]] degree, with the ancient languages, and with French, Spanish, Italian and German, and had an accurate knowledge of most branches of science and art. His acquirements in Astronomy, Natural Philosophy, Botany, Chemistry, &c. are said to have been both extensive and accurate, and there were few branches of human knowledge to which he had not directed his attention, and with which he had not, at least, such familiarity as to enable him, in his writings, to draw upon them for the purposes of illustration, with aptness and effect. Mr. Poe's writings, both in prose and poetry, have, for several years past, had an established reputation. They were peculiar, and far from being without striking faults; but there is scarcely one of them that can be read by a person of judgment, without leading him to the conclusion that the author was a man of genius truly original; of a taste refined by diligent study and comparison; and of information, varied, comprehensive and minute. It is greatly to be regretted that his extraordinary capacity was no more appropriately employed than in the field of literary labour, to which circumstances obliged him to confine himself. For, under better auspices, he might have produced works which would have been of enduring value to posterity. His writings disclose the most remarkable powers of analysis, and had his efforts been steadily and judiciously directed, he would have left behind him a reputation inferior to that of no other American writer whatever. As it is, what he has written will not fail to be rescued from the common fate of the ephemeral productions of the day. The learning, genius, taste, originality and nice discrimination exhibited in his prose, and the artistical construction, mellifluous flow, and often exquisite imagery of his verse, will never cease to be acknowledged and admired. His criticisms of his contemporaries were universally admitted to discover the most acute perception of the faults as well as merits of those whom he reviewed; and although often impeached as wanting in impartiality, are now generally conceded to have been equally just and discriminating.

Mr. Poe is said to have been a man of polished manners, fine colloquial powers, warm and amiable impulses, and of a high and sometimes haughty spirit. It is deeply to be deplored that his great powers, which might have enabled him to soar so high and to have acquired for himself so much of fame and prosperity, were obscured and crippled by the frailties and weaknesses which have too often attended eminent genius in all ages.

It may be regarded as a singular coincidence, that several days ago we received a note from a “Lady Friend,” asking us to publish two poems by Mr. Poe, “The Raven” and “Ulalume,” and that we had prepared to publish the former, on this very day, and even were on the point of sending it to the compositor, when we heard of his death. We still publish it in connection with the above notice of his decease. “The Raven,” on its first publication about five years ago, excited a deep interest, and was copied far and near, at home and abroad. It is a rare effort of the peculiar genius of the writer, and is one of the most remarkable and metrical poems ever written.


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore —

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“ 'Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door —

Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow; — vainly I had sought to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow — sorrow for the lost Lenore —

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore —

Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

Thrilled me — filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating

“ 'Tis some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door —

Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door; —

This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;

But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

That I scarce was sure I heard you” — here I opened wide the door; ——

Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;

But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,

And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!” —

Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.

“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;

Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore —

Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—

‘Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;

Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;

But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door —

Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door —

Perched, and sat, and nothing more. [column 5:]

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,

“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,

Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore —

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,

Though its answer little meaning — little relevancy bore;

For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being

Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door —

Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,

With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only

That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.

Nothing farther then he uttered — not a feather then he fluttered —

Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before —

On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”

Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store

Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster

Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore —

Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore

Of ‘Never — nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;

Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking

Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore —

What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore

Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;

This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining

On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,

But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,

She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer

Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.

“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee — by these angels he hath sent thee

Respite — respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore;

Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! — prophet still, if bird or devil! —

Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,

Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted —

On this home by Horror haunted — tell me truly, I implore —

Is there — is there balm in Gilead? — tell me — tell me, I implore!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! — prophet still, if bird or devil!

By that Heaven that bends above us — by that God we both adore —

Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,

It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore —

Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting —

“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!

Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!

Leave my loneliness unbroken! — quit the bust above my door!

Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; [column 3:]

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted — nevermore!



Poe was 40 when he died, not 38, although the writer of this obituary, and indeed all of the early obituaries, was acting on erroneous information that had generally been provided in biographies about Poe, an error that originated with Poe himself. Poe did not attend William and Mary College. He did attend the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, VA. The Poe Society is grateful to Christopher J. Kintzel of the Maryland State Archives for locating the original printing and providing a PDF of the article for verification. The accession number is MSA SC 3682. This run of the scarce paper may include the only surviving copy of this issue. Records indicate that this set of the Patriot was at the Library of Congress, and transferred to the State Archives in the 1990s.

The version of “The Raven” is the same as that had been published by the Richmond Semi-Weekly Examiner on September 25, 1849.

The Baltimore Patriot was edited by Isaac Munroe (1785-1859) and John Fry McJilton (1805-1879).


[S:0 - BPCG, 1849] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Death of Edgar A. Poe (Anonymous, 1849)