The prophetic vision came in the form of “Eureka,” a 150-page prose poem critically panned for its complexity and regarded by many as the work of a madman. Written in the final year of Poe’s life, “Eureka” describes an expanding universe that began in “one instantaneous flash” derived from a single “primordial particle.”
Poe goes on to put forth the first legitimate solution to Olbers’ paradox — the question of why, given the vast number of stars in the universe, the night sky is dark — by explaining that light from the expanding universe had not yet reached our solar system. When Edward Robert Harrison published “Darkness at Night” in 1987, he credited “Eureka” as having anticipated his findings.
In an interview with Nautilus, Italian astronomer Alberto Cappi speaks of Poe’s prescience, admitting, “It’s surprising that Poe arrived at his dynamically evolving universe because there was no observational or theoretical evidence suggesting such a possibility. No astronomer in Poe’s day could imagine a non-static universe.”
But what if Poe wasn’t of a day at all, but of all the days?
What if his written prophecies — on the cannibalistic demise of Richard Parker, the symptoms of frontal lobe syndrome, and the Big Bang theory — were merely reportage from his journey through the extratemporal continuum?
Photo from Dodd, Mead and Company/Wikimedia Commons.
Surely I sound like a tinfoil-capped loon, but maybe, maybe, there are many more prophecies scattered throughout the author’s work, a possibility made all the more likely by the fact that, as The New York Times notes, “Poe was so undervalued for so long, there is not a lot of Poe-related material around.”
I’ll leave you with this quote, taken from a letter that Poe wrote to James Russell Lowell in 1844, in which he apologizes for his absence and slothfulness:
Read more about the Top 3 Convincing Moments on the next page.