He Put the Poe in Poem

One name is synonymous with mystery and the macabre, but do you know the man behind the legend? Admittedly, we didn’t know much over here at BellFest, but it was fascinating to spend an evening discovering more about the one and only: Edgar Allan Poe.

In anticipation of rapidly-approaching Halloween (a fitting time to reflect on ghouls and horrors), we invited our friend Chris Semtner, curator at The Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, to join in conversation with Paul Ashe, director of the National Bell Festival, on Poe’s life and legacy. 

On a quiet Tuesday evening, Bell Raisers converged online to see amazing artifacts from the museum’s collection and to hear Mr. Semtner recount anecdotes from Poe’s storied life. It turns out, Poe had many, many dalliances and loves along the way. As one attendee put it, “Who knew Poe was the pre-Civil War snack all the ladies wanted?” Captivating stuff.

In the silence of the night, how we shivered with affright!

What does Poe have to do with bells? Keep reading! Literally. In 1849, Poe published the first draft of his much-revered poem, “The Bells.” The melodic work depicts a growing horror through the personification of ringing bells. Reverberating to this day, the poem is a reflection on ephemeral beauty and mortality itself. Mr. Semtner treated us to a reading of the full piece and provided insightful context to its creation and interpretations.

It’s an evening we won’t soon forget, but if you missed out, there’s plenty still to come! Bell Raisers receive invitation-only access to exclusive events and experiences throughout the year, just like this one. Join the Bell Raisers today and get a little closer to Washington's historic bells and bell towers.