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  • Kim

Edgar Allen Poe vs. Boston

As a poetry lover, and someone who enjoyed reading "The Raven" probably more than the rest of her classmates in high school, when I found out there was a statue of him in Boston I had to stop by to see it. It is a beautifully made statue, with a lot of attention to detail. I also liked the raven flying out of the suitcase, along with a heart falling out of the case (visible at the back of the statue, you can see it in the video below), which are based on his popular literary works "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Raven".

But being the extremely curious cat that I am, I couldn't just enjoy looking at the statue. I had to know why his statue was there especially because it seemed like a rather random place to put a statue. It wasn't in any of the huge parks (The Boston Common or Public Garden), right behind him, across the street, facing away from the parks, as if he was walking/rushing away from them, in the side walk. In his own words I thought to myslef, “Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore...”

While I searched for answers, I was shocked to find that Poe was not a fan of Boston and its people. This was shocking to me for 2 reasons.

  • 1: If true, why did they make a statue of someone who hated the place and its people?

  • 2: I love the people of Boston. Some of the kindest, most thoughtful, and generous people I have had the pleasure of knowing are from there and/or reside there. In fact, my experiences there have been so pleasant that when I'm away from Boston I miss it like I'm away from my home. My coping mechanism is to listen to BeeGee's Massachusetts on repeat while I look at pictures and videos I took in Boston.

I got some answers regarding the location of the statue thanks to Boston Central & The New York Times :

The sculptor, Stephanie Rocknak, said he faces away from the Frog Pond to represent his disdain for Bostonians, as he walks toward his birthplace on Carver Street."

What does it have to do with the Frog Pond?

Poe sneered at the city’s luminaries. Riffing off the Frog Pond in the Boston Common, Poe called the local swells “Frogpondians,” their moralistic works sounding like the croaking of so many frogs. As for residents here, they “have no soul,” he said. “Bostonians are well bred — as very dull persons very generally are.
He considered Boston writers self-important and preachy, and he said so. And Boston returned the sentiment. Ralph Waldo Emerson dismissed Poe as a “jingle man” for his simplistic style, as if the author of “The Raven” were writing television ads for toothpaste.

I guess I get it now but I'm glad Boston decided to end the feud and honor this brilliant poet in his birth place. As I have been reading more about his life my heart breaks for the man. In another post I will write about his life long struggles with grief due to losing both of his parents during childhood and then, also losing his wife. The Raven’s deep sadness & struggles with grief were definitely based on true feelings. I wish he was better understood and treated by his Bostonian colleagues while he was alive. But I’m glad to see the respect and recognition he is receiving from the current Bostonians.

Beautiful Statue by: Stephanie Rocknak


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