The end for Poe's mysterious mourner

A mysterious visitor to Edgar Allan Poe's grave has failed to show up for the second year in a row.

Fans of the writer waited all night at the Baltimore cemetery where Poe is buried. Four impostors came and went. At about 5am yesterday, the dozen Poe fans who were left began to wonder if the eerie ritual is indeed nevermore, so they walked to Poe's grave and performed their own tribute by leaving roses and drinking a cognac toast.

A fascinating tradition – that ran for some 60 years and was never fully explained – appears to have ended. The unknown person who left three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac at Poe's grave on the anniversary of the writer's birth failed to appear for the second straight year.

"I think we can safely say it's not car trouble, and he's not sick," said Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe Museum. "This doesn't look good."

It would be an ending befitting of the legacy of Poe, the American literary master of the macabre who was known for haunting poems such as "The Raven" and grisly short stories including "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Pit and the Pendulum".

The ritual began in the 1940s and was first mentioned in print in 1949 by The Evening Sun of Baltimore. Those who have glimpsed the "Poe toaster" always saw him dressed in black, wearing a white scarf with a wide-brimmed hat.

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