What could be better on Halloween than a story about the master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe? While trolling for lesser-known facts about the author, I came across something appropriately eerie that might even be new to many of you. In 1862, psychic medium Lizzie Doten published her book Poems from the Inner Life. In it, she claimed some of the works originated from “conscious communion with disembodied spirits” of famous writers who had shuffled off this mortal coil. (Indeed, Shakespeare was one of them.) Six of the poems are purported to come from Poe himself. About her experience with the spirit of Poe, Doten had this to say:
The influence of Poe was neither pleasant nor easy. I can only describe it as a species of mental intoxication. I was tortured with a feeling of great restlessness and irritability, and strange, incongruous images crowded my brain. Some were as bewildering and dazzling as the sun, others dark and repulsive. Under his influence, particularly, I suffered the greatest exhaustion of vital energy, so much so, that after giving one of his poems, I was usually quite ill for several days.
But from his first poem to the last … was a marked, and rapid change. It would seem as though, in that higher life, where the opportunities for spiritual development far transcend those of earth, that by his quick and active perceptions he had seized upon the Divine Idea which was endeavoring to find expression through his life, both in Time and Eternity; and that from the moment this became apparent, with a volcanic energy, with the battle-strokes of a true hero, he had over-thrown every obstacle, and hewn a way through every barrier that impeded the free out-growth and manifestation of his diviner self…. As he last appeared to me, he was full of majesty and strength, self-poised and calm, and it would seem by the expression of his countenance, radiant with victory, that the reward promised to ‘him that over-cometh,' had been made his sure possession…. Upon earth he was a meteor light, flashing with a startling brilliancy across the intellectual firmament; but now he is a star of ever increasing magnitude, which has at length gravitated to its own place among the celestial spheres.
As Ripley’s would have it, “Believe It or Not!” But there’s no doubt that Pscy* is a typo of high probability. There are 61 English-language instances of it in OhioLINK and 502 in WorldCat.
(Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe, 1849, from Wikimedia Commons)