Magazine article The World and I

A Toast to Poe

Magazine article The World and I

A Toast to Poe

Article excerpt

Sometime before dawn, a stranger creeps into the brick-walled graveyard of Baltimore's Westminster Church. At the grave of Edgar Allan Poe, the black-clad figure kneels and bows his head as if in prayer, and then sets a bottle of Martell cognac in front of the gravestone, accompanied by three red roses. Since January 19, 1949, the 100th anniversary of Poe's death, the stranger has come each year between midnight and 5:00 a.m. to toast the author.

But this past January, on the 190th anniversary of Poe's birth, the ritual took a turn worthy of Poe himself. Ten witnesses, taking part in a predawn vigil for the toaster's annual return, learned that the original figure, elderly and ailing, had died--only to be replaced by a younger man.

A note left at the graveside revealed that the mysterious pilgrim had died in December.

"This takes some of the mystery away. …

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