While I was at the Bouchercon, I took part in a panel on Poe with John Lutz and Peter Lovesey, who share my interest in him and had both done a fair amount of background reading on him. Sue Grafton, also on the panel, along with Michael Connelly, read a contemporary obituary of Poe by a man named Griswold, who didn’t like Poe, and who started the rumor that Poe was an opium addict. Poe was a heavy drinker, but there’s no evidence that he abused drugs. John Lutz said that a number of scholars now think Poe may have been bi-polar, and that he drank to medicate himself. (Poe himself talked about suffering from “the Midnight Disease,” which was the phrase he used to describe his manic hypergraphia.) John added that we only have Poe’s writings from his depressive state. He wondered what kind of work Poe would have written if he’d tackled something like “Trees.” This inspired me to scribble a few lines which I read to the audience. A number of people asked for a copy, so here it is:
I think that I shall never see
Murder committed by a tree
Unless a woodsman takes an ax
And gives that sucker 40 whacks
While some poor fool–perhaps it’s me–
Walks beneath that falling tree.