The Poe Toaster was a mysterious man who came to Edgar Allan Poe’s grave at Westminster Hall in Baltimore on January 19th, Poe’s birthday, every year to leave a toast of cognac and three roses. The last year he showed up was in 2009, and by 2012 we’d given up on him ever appearing again. Many believe he died. But there’s a new Poe Toaster! The Maryland Historical Society held auditions and selected a new, still anonymous, person to carry on the tradition. He made his first appearance on Saturday for Baltimore’s Poe Appreciation Day ceremony. A crowd of about 100 people attended.
After saluting Poe with apple cider and the raffling off of a themed cake, the group headed outside to watch the arrival of the new toaster.
The bearded figure emerged from beneath the hall playing Camille Saint-Saëns' distinctive Danse Macabre on a violin. He marched up to the grave with a white scarf draped loosely across his shoulders.
Some things remain the same: The inheritor of the tradition toasted with cognac and left red roses. Some things are different: The violin was the new toaster's addition, and the ritual was performed in daylight rather than the dead of night.
The toaster rested the violin and bow on the stone monument and intoned a tribute in Latin. He yanked the cognac from his coat pocket and drank. He set down the roses, nodded to Poe and left.