165 years ago today, a disheveled man died alone at a Baltimore hospital. He had been found four days earlier, lying disoriented and distressed in a gutter, and had identified himself as one Edgar Allan Poe, missing for over a week and in a shockingly deteriorated state. Ill, haggard, and possibly wearing the poorly-fitting clothes of another, Poe was incoherent and unable to account for his whereabouts for the previous days. He received no visitors while in hospital and quickly succumbed to his condition, a death that has been the subject of hot debate among historians and biographers, with speculations ranging from extreme alcohol intoxication (a rumor spread by Poe’s chief rival and literary executor), to “suicide, murder, cholera, rabies, syphilis, [and] influenza,” and even more bizarre conspiracy theories. Whatever the cause, on October 7, 1849, the literary world lost an icon of the dark Romantic movement, an author of (perhaps fittingly) chilling murder mysteries, and of darkly lyrical poetry famously evocative of love, ghosts, death, and madness.
No poem was perhaps so famous as his 1845 masterpiece, The Raven. Mysterious and stately, a silent raven appears before a distraught lover mourning the loss of his lost Lenore, first serving as a comforting distraction, then a puzzle, then, finally, a mocking demon that reflects the narrator’s own descent to madness. Elegantly composed and lyrically lush, it is no small wonder that The Raven is a perennial Halloween favorite. If you too are captivated by this “ghastly grim and ancient raven, wandering from the nightly shore,” perhaps you can let it inspire a literature-lovers Halloween with the four dark and lovely raven-themed tutorials in today’s banner pic!
Set the scene for a Poe-inspired dinner party with DIY raven dinner plates from Brooklyn Limestone. Simply pair bargain or thrift store white plates with permanent markers and text from Poe’s most iconic poem to create elegant one-of-a-kind place settings for less than $5 each. Add to the otherworldlyness of your Halloween or dinner party decor by creating mysterious crystal balls with floating ravens that peer out at your guests. The effect is an easy optical illusion created with a few odds and ends and a stately vintage raven printable – you can find the complete tutorial at Flamingo Toes. If perhaps you hear a tapping, it could be eerie raven window silhouettes at your window lattice. The templates and instructions are available for free from The Graphics Fairy. Finally, no elegantly ominous raven-themed event would be complete without an equally elegant and ominous hostess, her eyes made up with all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming. Armed with basic sewing skills and a black cocktail dress, you can follow this simple hair, makeup, and costume tutorial from A Glamour Affair to create a sophistication Halloween look with an untamed edge, pairing a elegant dress with a DIY high-collared feather caplet to capture the opulently sombre essence of that most infamous avian.
If Poe’s grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore doesn’t fire your Halloween imagination, simply search “Halloween” at any of the above linked sites for a trove of additional Halloween tutorials, or visit our extensive Crafts and DIY archive here on The Year of Halloween. Happy crafty haunting!