EDGAR ALLAN POE: A TRAGIC LIFE Unlike many other American writers, Edgar Allan Poe had a tragic life from the moment he was born to the end he died. His parents were traveling actors and both passed away before he was two. Edgar Allan Poe was adopted by a wealthy family in Richmond, Virginia, where he got his family name: Allan. This is his fortunate and unfortunate. On one hand, he met kind foster parents, who offered him well education and sufficient love. On the other hand, he could never adjust himself to the southern gentry because of both his lonely characteristic and his incomprehensible imagination talent.

Perhaps he was over-indulged by Mr. Allan, had no restraining influence in the early years, Perhaps his self-identity was so strong that he made himself wandering outside the society. Edgar Allan Poe seemed to be a loser in everything: ! ^0 When he was seventeen, he entered the University of Virginia. He stayed in the University only one year. In some studies he showed remarkable ability but he gambled and drank, and ran deeply into debt. Mr. Allan, his foster-father, refused to pay his gambling debts and took him from the University.

He was placed in a counting room in Richmond, but finding the work most distasteful, he soon broke away and went to Boston.! +/-! ^0 After a brief enlistment in the army, Poe accepted an appointment to West Point, which Allan had helped to arrange. Poe was discharged less than a year later.! +/-! ^0 The next few years were spent in wandering from place to place and in attempting newspaper work.!

+/- There are two things that certainly contributed to his shameful experiences: gambling and drinking. These were common things in English gentleman at that time, but Poe was neither rich nor health enough. Instead, he lived in poverty all his life and died of drinking. Above all, Edgar Allan Poe was brilliant, clever, and imaginary. His story! ^0 Mr. Found in a Bottle! +/- won the first prize in a contest.

Poe brought his obsession with the irrational side of the mind into writing and created a new kind of poem that never appeared in America. His poem soon became popular. Poe!'s interest in the power of reason developed some tales of nightmare terror. He influenced many writers especially in France, and was respected as a pioneer in poetic and fictional techniques.

Poe also showed true talents as an editor and a literary critic. Edgar Allan Poe had several happy years with Mrs. Maria Clemm and her daughter Virginia in Baltimore. He thrived in an atmosphere of love and later married Virginia at her age of 13.! ^0 He seemed to have two personalities, one which he showed to those whom he loved, and one which he kept for the world. His best traits were brought out in his associations with these two beloved women of his household, for with them he was patient, chivalrous, and devoted.!

+/-! ^0 The last thirteen years of his life were years of opportunities wasted. He slipped back into his old habit of drinking and gambling and lost his hand in hand with him. Virginia developed tuberculosis and even though Mrs. Clemm kept boarders to help eke out an existence, things went from bad to worse. Virginia died in abject poverty warm. Poe was heart-broken.

Two years later he, too, died.! +/-! ^0 Like so much else about the man, many of the circumstances surrounding his death remain a mystery. He had traveled to Richmond to make arrangement for his marriage to a widow, Mrs. A.B. Shelton.

On the return trip to New York, he stopped in Baltimore to visit some friends. A common theory is that, arriving in the city on election day, he fell into the hand of political hoodlums who got him drunk and him as voter in dishonest election practices. Whatever had occurred, on October 3 Poe was found in a tavern in a drunken and desperately ill condition. He died four days later.! ^0 Tate says, ! Poe is not interested in anything that is alive.

Everything is Poe is dead: the houses, the rooms, the furniture! -!! +/-! ^0 His theme was frequently death and a gloom and melancholy overshadow all his poems, but nevertheless his verse is of great beauty. He stands alone in the characteristics of his writings. Other poets reflected their environment, their inheritance, the social tendencies of the hour, and the spirit of the times, himself.

They should be read not to be read not to be wholly understood for that is impossible, but for the beauty they express and the melodious tones of their lines. England considers him our greatest poet.! +/- PROSE AND POETRY OF AMERICA, H. WARD McGRAW.A. M, THE L.W. SINCERCONMPANY, 317-318 HISTORY AND ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE (VOLUME 1), WEREN WU, FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING AND RESEARCH PRESS, 131 AMERICAN LITERATURE THE MAKERS AND THE MAKING (VOLUME 1), CLEAN TH BROOKS R.W.B. LEWIS ROBERT PENN WARREN, ST. MARTIN! S PRESS NEW YORK, 361.