A Poe-em of Passion
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Charles Fletcher Lummis was a man of many talents. Acclaimed United States journalist and activist, he was an avid traveler, and later also became known as librarian, photographer, archaeologist and poet. He published many acclaimed works throughout his lengthy career, including Flowers Of Our Lost Romance (1909) and The Spanish Pioneers And The California Missions (1936), his passion and values associated with his Indian activism activities having supplied many of his publications with a unique aura of lightheartedness, yet often carrying a strong message.A Poe-em of Passion became one of the shorter but more popular works published by Lummis as part of The World’s Wit and Humor in 1906. The main reason why this witty poem bordering on the macabre has become so famous was because it parodied one of Edgar Allen Poe’s most distinguished works, Annabel Lee. Like many of Poe’s poetry, it had focused on the death of a beautiful woman.Lummis’ ingenious idea was to incorporate the idea of a young maiden by the name of Cannibalee, who was the equivalent of Poe’s Annabel Lee in A Poe-em of Passion. The humorous poem describes Cannibalee’s “love” as having far more to do with flesh rather than spirit, in the disturbing way that her name hints at.The poet manages to create a successful and inventive parody that resembles parts of Poe’s Annabel Lee in its style and approach, but speaks more of the Fijian cannibal cultures than of any romance-related ideals. Read out loud by a skilled reader, it can sound even more enjoyable in its surprising and oftentimes ironic undertones.For anyone who has followed Lummis’ remarkable career and carefree lifestyle, the poem will make a great deal of sense. However, even if you simply want to enjoy a few witty, disturbingly hilarious and quite ingenious lyrics that will make you roar with laughter, this poem is just perfect for the task.