Has Poe's grave visitor given up the ghost?

A mysterious nocturnal visitor who used to visit the grave of American poet Edgar Allen Poe on his birthday and lay a rose in his memory failed to appear for the third consecutive year, US media said.

After waiting up all night, the curator of the Poe museum in Baltimore officially declared on Thursday that the night-time tradition was over.

"I more or less resigned myself that it was over with before tonight," said curator Jeff Jerome, who has been curator of the Poe House since 1979.

"What I'll miss most is the excitement of waiting to see if he's going to show up," he added to the Baltimore Sun.

Each year since 1949, the 100th anniversary of Poe's birth, an often-times cloaked individual left a bottle of cognac and a few roses at the foot of Poe's tomb, usually at night, in tribute to the legendary poet.

No-one has ever been able to identify the mystery visitor. But a blurry photo on the wall of Poe's house, now preserved as a museum, shows a mystery man leaving his tributes on the grave.

The original yearly visitor apparently died in 1998, but apparently passed the pilgrimage on to his two sons.

More than the 5,000 people visit the house every year where the author of The Fall of the House of Usher, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Pit and the Pendulum and the narrative poem, The Raven, spent part of his short life.

Poe - best known as a master of mystery and the macabre, but also considered the inventor of detective dramas - died in 1849 at the age of 40.


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