I have been going back into the history of the poem, "The Raven," trying to connect the dots to Mathew Franklin Whittier. This is something I deliberately held-off researching, when initially writing my book, so as not to taint any past-life memories which might arise. However, none did after my initial hypnotic regression, in which I saw the two men meeting on the porch of Poe's cabin. So now I am having to scramble to catch up.
Not wishing to present the entire history, here--which the interested reader can look up (and the knowledgable reader already knows), my proposed scenario goes like this.
Mathew wrote this poem in grief for his first wife, Abby, who had died of consumption in 1841. But he had entered into a second arranged marriage, and did not wish to hurt his second wife by demonstrating to her how deeply he was still grieving for his first. Therefore, he had to remain anonymous. In fact, he probably had no intention of ever publishing it.
He and Poe met--they were contemporaries, both publishing in New England papers at the time. Mathew's work was at least equal to Poe's at this point, and Mathew had been publishing for about 10 years (having started in the early 1830's, about the time that Poe did). Mathew must have shared a few of his unpublished works, and copied one or two for him upon request, or else lent them to him.
Poe, falling on hard times and being desperate, approaches his old friend and former employer, George Graham, at "Graham's Magazine," with the poem. Graham, recognizing that the handwriting isn't Poe's, refuses; but seeing Poe in such dire straits, gifts him $15 as charity, specifically to prevent his taking such a desperate course. But Poe, taking the money, subsequently sells it to the "American Review." The editor of the "Review" sends an advance copy with permission to publish, to the New York "Evening Mirror," telling him it was submitted by "Edgar Poe." That editor sees no reason to use the poem's pseudonym, "----- Quarls," since he already knows--or assumes--that it is Poe's poem. Therefore, he introduces it as having been written by Poe; whereas when it comes out in the "American Review," Poe's name is not used, and instead, it appears under the original pseudonym.
Scholars tie that pseudonym to Poe, based on a pamphlet published in Boston titled "English Notes," by "Quarles Quickens," which was a satirical answer to Charles Dickens' "American Notes."* Whether Poe's authorship is plausible, I leave to the scholars; it almost certainly is not Mathew Franklin Whittier's work, for several reasons. But the blank line before "------ Quarles" is put there for a reason--possibly, to distinguish it from "Quarles Quickens." I think it is actually a tribute to English poet John Quarles (not Francis Quarles), who wrote of the plague in terms that would have reminded Mathew of Abby and her musical abilities. I've just quoted the relevant lines in my book--I won't repeat them, here.
John Quarles must have been a deeply and sincerely devotional person, based on what I see of his poetry. Mathew, being likewise, would have admired him on this basis. Edgar Allan Poe was not, and would not have. (Francis Quarles, being a lavishly ornamental poet, would have been a somewhat better match for Poe, though he appears to have been rather exaggerately religious, in the traditional sense.)
"The Raven" is not the only work that Poe may have obtained from Mathew, during this meeting--I also suspect "Some Words with a Mummy" (I can point to a dozen pieces by Mathew with as clever a premise--note, for example, the story that Samuel Clemens read at the dinner given for John Greenleaf Whittier's 70th birthday), and "Anabel Lee," which would originally have been written by Mathew, with no intent of ever publishing it, to his first wife, "Abigail P----."**
I can make a very, very strong case for Mathew as the original author of the unsigned parody of "The Raven," entitled "The Vulture." That proposed attribution has a great deal of detective work behind it, which I won't reproduce, here (but, of course, it is provided in my book). This parody is considered one of the most successful, and the most popular, ever written. Thus, Mathew would have been writing a masterful parody of his own poem; but this, too, was grief poetry. Mathew was known to have a particular distaste for "bores," which would have intensified after his wife died. One in grief cannot bear the company of superficial people.
None of this is meant to convince anyone; especially, I would prefer not to convince an academician who might, perchance, try to claim the theory as his or her own. I think I am simply trying to bust the knee-jerk conclusion that, because I dare to claim the past-life authorship of a famous work (actually, two), that I must automatically be a megalomaniac. There are other explanations. What's infuriating, is that there is the unspoken assumption that if you can back up a claim, logically and with evidence, people will at least drop that disparaging assumption. They won't, and they don't. What happens is that they actually prefer their disparaging, knee-jerk assumption to evidence; and thus, they will simply decline to take the evidence seriously, lest it interfere with their enjoyment of the knee-jerk assumption.
Thus has it ever been. But if I'm right, Poe plagiarized this work from his contemporary, Mathew Franklin Whittier, the unsung younger brother of poet John Greenleaf Whittier.
Then again, I'm convinced that St. Paul was a fraud, and never actually had the experience on the road to Damascus, which false testimony he used to infiltrate the early Christian church. I don't suppose that theory will be respected much, either--despite the fact that it makes a lot of sense if you think about it, a la Occam's Razor. Paul is, after all, the guy who accused Peter of being a hypocrite, even though Jesus said he would build His church on Peter. And given that Jesus would never have built His church on a hypocrite, it becomes essentially Paul's word against Jesus's.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*Dickens plagiarized heavily in "American Notes" from Theodore Weld's "American Slavery As It Is" (1839).
**Mathew and Abby lived in Portland, Maine. Her father was a marquis. She was taken by her sister back to her father's house in East Haverhill, Mass. just a few days before she died of consumption. Thus, the relevant lines in the poem would have been literal, for her:
So that her highborn kinsmen came
And bore her away from me,
Music opening this page: "Did You Steal My Money," by The Who, from the album, "Face Dances"