It's Edgar Allan Poe's birthday today. That means it is as good a day as any to read Angela Carter's wonderfully bleak story, "The Cabinet of Edgar Allan Poe" (available in her book Burning Your Boats: Collected Stories). Here's the first paragraph:
"Imagine Poe in the Republic! when he possesses none of its virtues; no Spartan, he. Each time he tilts the jug to greet the austere morning, his sober friends reluctantly concur: 'No man is safe who drinks before breakfast.' Where is the black star of melancholy? Elsewhere; not here. Here it is always morning; stern, democratic light scrubs apparitions off the streets down which his dangerous feet must go."
Here's a tradition of which I was completely unaware.