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Poe and the garden children: the ghost team chases light

Published: 2017.08.26 - 12:02:25   /  /  Miguel Darío García Porto  /  translated by  Luis E. Amador Dominguez  /

When Horacio Quiroga wrote Decálogo del perfecto cuentista, his first recommendation was precise: "Believe in a teacher -Poe, Maupassant, Kipling, Chekhov- as in God himself." That was not a commandment for religious people, it was a provocation, and the most telluric force was in the suggestion of the first name.

Ghosts sometimes frighten, especially if Edgar Allan Poe had spent his short life writing dark tales and almost always sad poems. Lyricism can be the artifice of misfortune and awe, or simply life itself.

Edgar had this misfortune. He lost his parents within a few years of birth and was raised by a couple who inserted the "Allan" in his name. Since he was young he suffered many rejections because he wanted to be a writer as his childhood hero: the English Lord Byron. He only had four decades to fulfill his desires and as the French poet Charles Baudelaire said, ¨Poe had the word fatality written in mysterious characters in the folds of his forehead¨. However, it was the Argentine Jorge Luis Borges who deciphered it, perhaps, unconsciously: "Poe sacrificed life to work, the mortal destiny to the posthumous destiny".

Years after his death, Edgar has many museums in his honor. One of them is in Baltimore, United States, in the house where he lived the first years of the 30's of the nineteenth century. At 203 Amity Street (originally number 3), at the intersection with West Lexington, stands a building adorned with sober bricks, then nestled in a rural setting. There the poet lived with his wife Virginia, his cousin, whom he had married when she was 13 and he 27.

The demolition of that house was planned for 1941, but the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore took care of it and was opened to the public as a museum on the occasion of the centennial of the writer's death in 1949. There you can see the illustrations of Gustave Doré for his poem "The Raven," a portable desk, his Windsor-style chair, and even a telescope that Poe had used as a child. Maybe he liked to see the stars.

Nevertheless, in the city of Richmond, in the American state of Virginia, the visitor can find the greater collection of personal objects of the writer. In that town, Poe developed great part of its literary career and the house where he lived is, since 1921, a museum that takes its name and that maintains the same mysterious style, with its covering of stones and its 300 years of antiquity.

According to many visitors, there you can see the works of art of the Allan family, Poe's childhood bed, many of his manuscripts, his wife's mirror and the ghost of the writer.

The unexplained shadow has been captured in many photographs. The popular imagination has defined it as the spectrum of the poet.

Something similar happens in the garden, whose design is inspired by Edgar's poetry. There stands the Poe Sanctuary, built with bricks and granite salvaged from the building where the writer edited the Southern Literary Messenger.

Many shrubs have been held in the bushes. However, several couples of couples have had stamped on their photos two blond children who are never seen in ceremonies, but who appear as ghosts in the images. Some say that it was the children of the German family who lived in the house before Poe came to live in it. And some will think that they are spirits that accompany the writer, who only dares to wander the interior of the property.

Maybe Edgar plays to be a kid again. He is shown to enjoy scientific methods and to weigh his intuition. Thus he wrote "Eureka," for example, an essay that contradicts Newtonian principles about the density and rotation of planets, and which gives importance to the telescope of his childhood.

It is likely that the ghost team is experimenting with the photographs to decipher the nighttime light and to attain it sometime, after all, survival must be fun-filled: "Being the succession of endless stars, the bottom of the sky should present to us a uniform luminosity, as the one shown by the Galaxy, since there could be no reason why, at any point of that background, not at least one star should stand out. The only reason, therefore, in such circumstances, by which we could understand the gaps that our telescopes find in innumerable directions, would be to assume the distance of the invisible bottom so immense that no ray of light from that background has been able to reach us still".

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