"I was a child and she was a child, in this kingdom by the sea, but we loved with a love that was more than love, I and my Annabel Lee."
Those are words from a poem written by Edgar Allan Poe. It's also the favorite poem of Edgar Allen Poe — Army West Point's wide receiver of the same name as the famous poet.
There are a few similarities between these two men. Both have showcased their creative side, both have written impressive poems and probably the biggest similarity is that both attended the United States Military Academy.Poe the poet never graduated. But one of Army's best receivers in recent years will graduate with a degree in law and legal studies. The past Poe is the current Poe's favorite poet, and those poems have truly inspired the senior in his own works of art.
"The beauty of how poetic Annabel Lee is and the underlying message behind it is absolutely genius," Poe said. "That's kind of why I like Edgar Allan Poe. He has all these abstract kind of ideas and it makes you think a little bit more than just what may be seen at face value."
Just like his namesake, Poe started writing poetry at a young age.
"In high school I started to sing a little bit," Poe said. "I really like to sing. I like a lot of soulful-type music and so I started venturing off that way. That kind of developed into me wanting to produce my own works of art. I started writing music, and music is really close to poetry, so now I just do a little bit of both whenever I have some free time."
So how are these two unique men so oddly similar? Well, it all starts with Poe's grandfather.
"I'm Edgar Allen Poe Jr., actually" Poe said. "I inherited the name from my father. My grandfather was actually the one who got the bright idea to name my dad that.
"Interestingly enough, I've asked my grandfather why he named my dad that and he's given me a different answer every time. He goes from saying, 'I just wanted to give him a head start in every field because the name Edgar Allen Poe pops out,' to, 'I was always a literary addict so I just thought that since it was the Poe name I'd do it.'"Poe can't fault his grandfather and family too much. His interesting name, along with his impressive football skills, brought him to the West Point brotherhood all the way from Tucson, Arizona. But it wasn't always a clear-cut path for him as he ultimately switched his decision from one school to Army on signing day.
"My parents were a bit shocked actually because both of them thought I was going to commit somewhere else," Poe said. "And then the morning of signing day, I switched.
"I don't exactly know; maybe it was my greater judgment, but both of my parents really wanted me to come here over anywhere else. I don't know what really made me do it, but my parents were ecstatic."
Poe saw action in just three games as a rookie, but he managed to haul in his first collegiate grab, a 6-yard touchdown reception against No. 5 Stanford. The following year, he more than quadrupled his playing time, participating in all 12 games. As a sophomore, he reeled in a team-best 199 yards on 10 receptions, including another touchdown catch of 22 yards against Yale.He had a breakout junior campaign, posting 441 yards on 16 catches for six touchdowns. What sparked that impressive season? Maybe having his younger brother, Christian, join the Army brotherhood as well.
"That was an even bigger sense of fulfillment that my little brother was able to make it to the next level and come out here and play," Poe added. "And we've had the opportunity to play out here on the same field for the last two seasons."
Edgar and Christian's younger brother, Dakota, who's an up-and-coming high school running back, is also highly interested in coming to West Point to follow the family path of playing for the Academy.
For some, having your little brother around is not ideal. But not for Poe.
"My brother Christian and I probably have the most interesting relationship anyone has ever seen," Poe said. "We've never fought, ever. And I know that's not that common. I'm inspired by him more than anyone else. It makes you act a little differently when you have someone that is there watching you so closely.
"He always keeps it real with me. Whenever I'm having a terrible day, he's the first person to tell me, and I do the same to him. It's just a learning experience back-and-forth. He's my best friend. I mean doing anything with your best friend is always awesome."
Now in his final season for the Black and Gold, Poe has had to battle back after sustaining a hand injury early in the year. He recently tied Dan Foldberg '51 for sixth all-time in Army football history with 11 career touchdown receptions. And as he heads into his last game against archrival Navy on Saturday, he couldn't have asked for better teammates standing by his side.
"It will get a little emotional," Poe added. "The fact that I will never play with these guys — they've made it the experience that it has been. These guys are the reasons why you keep pushing forward through all the hardship that we face here. I wouldn't trade all of my experiences with these guys for anything."
At the end of the football season, Army loses not only a great wide receiver but its team barber, singer and dancer.
"I've cut almost everybody's hair on the team," Poe said. "I also sing a lot. That's one of my favorite hobbies to do. Whenever I have free time or I'm walking, you'll probably catch me singing. I sing during the football games just to myself.
"I don't know but something about it is just calming and soothing. When it comes to dancing, I'm a goofy guy. I like to have fun. I'm never serious so I kind of express that in my dancing."When asked what he will remember most from his glory days on the gridiron, without missing a beat, Poe laughed and recounted a story that wouldn't be your typical football memory.
"I know it immediately," Poe said. "Going into this year's football season we had our team broken up into pods. The pods consisted of all types of position groups, just all jumbled together. It helped us to get to know different people on the team.
"Toward the end of fall camp we did this lip-syncing competition as a group. And my favorite moment of my entire Army football career was when Kenneth Brinson and Brandon Jackson came running out in girl clothes. It was one of the most hysterical moments I've ever had. And I'll never forget that. I think that's a good one to remember because having lost Brandon, that's one of the most cherished moments I have on the team. For him to be a part of it means so much."
Poe's favorite recollection of his time as a cadet on the banks of the Hudson was a little less "fun."
"The first time I ever slept in the field," Poe added. "For people who don't understand that terminology, it's when you go out with your company and literally sleep in a sleeping bag or poncho and sleep in the mountains. So the first time I ever did that, it rained. It poured for about 10 hours.
"That was the coldest I have ever been in my life. My neck muscles started cramping up from shivering."
Until Saturday Baltimore pic.twitter.com/PNZad8nQKb— Army WP Football (@ArmyWP_Football) December 6, 2016
Poe said he almost called it quits.
"I couldn't move, everything was wet, and everything stunk because it was wet," Poe said. "But you know, once again it was with all those guys — Xavier Moss, Matt Kauffman, Gervon Simon, Jeremy Timpf — all the seniors on the team. All those guys were there shivering with me. And those are the things that stick with you for a long time."
Poe and his fellow firsties are soon coming to the conclusion of their Army football careers, but before he departs the wide receiver/poet/songwriter/barber/singer/dancer had one final thing to say to his brothers.
"Take each moment and cherish it, because it's up a lot quicker than you would even believe," Poe said. "You're not promised anything after college, so cherish these moments and create your own opportunities. If you have the desire and the want more than anybody else, you're going to be successful."
Edgar Allen Poe couldn't have been more poetic.