The 131 hand-crafted scarecrows planted at the Atlanta Botanical Garden this Halloween season include fairy godmothers, mermaids and a purple people eater.
One scarecrow, though, has a distinct public health message.
“Edgar Allan Crow’’ is the work of the TB Elimination Team from the CDC, and he is “a-ravin’’ against tuberculosis.
The disease remains a massive killer worldwide, accounting for more than 1 million deaths annually. And though the U.S. rate is declining, almost 10,000 cases were reported in the country last year.
The Botanical Garden has hosted the scarecrows exhibition for 11 years, and Edgar Allan Crow took first prize in this year’s “non-professional category.’’
Edgar Allan Poe and his family were greatly affected by tuberculosis. When the future literary giant was a young child, his mother died from TB. Years later, his wife, Virginia, died of the disease.
Corny, but a labor of love
The Poe scarecrow was created by staff at the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination. They met together during non-working hours to build the scarecrow and write the poem that borrows from Poe’s “The Raven’’ to proclaim its anti-TB message.
(Last year’s CDC entry invoked the image of “Gone with the Wind’’ character Scarlett O’Hara. She was portrayed in the classic 1939 movie by actress Vivien Leigh, who died of TB in 1967.)
Here’s the poem that accompanies Mr. Crow:
Once upon an autumn dreary
As I pondered, none too cheery,
Late one night these words I heard
Coming from a learnéd bird–
Spoken by a raven or a crow,
I can’t be sure.
Speaking with a bold presumption
Of this old disease Consumption,
“We must fight this airborne menace
That still lurks from Beijing to
‘Til we beat this ancient foe!”
Let’s fight TB together
‘Til TB is nevermore!
Quoth the crow…“TB Nevermore!”