Annabel Lee

Annabel Lee

Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

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;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me–
Yes!–that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we–
Of many far wiser than we–
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling–my darling–my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Literary Analysis

“Annabel Lee” is a ballad or a narrative poem and its major theme is love. The language of the poem is conventional. The poem is mainly about the most beloved woman of the speaker in the poem. Her name is Annabel Lee. Thus, the title is “Annabel Lee”.

It opens with fairy tale language “It was many and many a year ago,/ In a kingdom by the sea.” The speaker of the poem is the poet himself who expresses his deep love for his beloved wife “the beautiful Annabel Lee”. In this poem, the speaker also shows how much he is mourning because he has difficulty in accepting the reality that his most precious wife is dead.

Annabel Lee and the speaker were young “I was a child and she was a child” when they fell passionately in love with each other and got married. Though they got married young, they were living a very happy life “in a kingdom by the sea”. Their being blissfully married, however, did not stop many from feeling unhappy with their relationship. “The angels,” were “not half so happy in heaven,” “that the wind came out of the cloud by night, chilling and killing my Annabel Lee”.

The relatives – “highborn kinsmen” of Annabel Lee were not supportive of their marriage as well. They were so against it that they “bore her away” from him. The poem has a melancholic and gloomy tone. This tone is the perfect choice for this tragic poem.

The literary devices that the poet made use of are imagery and personification. In the first two stanzas of the poem, Edgar Allan Poe uses imagery to help the readers see, feel and appreciate the love and married life that the speaker and his beloved Annabel Lee shared. Poe also used these devices to express the speaker’s deep sorrow and depression. The melancholic and tragic images in the poem are found in the third and succeeding stanzas: “chilling wind/out of a cloud by night,” that means Annabel Lee has died in a chilling cold. A very heart wrenching image can be read in the last four lines of the poem:

 

and so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling–my darling–my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

The above heartbreaking imagery shows the deep love of the speaker for his beloved wife. This powerful imagery reveals the speaker’s internal and external sufferings and longing for his wife.

In this kingdom by the sea” brings the image of a beautiful castle by the sea. This gives the feeling of majestic romance. Personification is exemplified in this line: “winged seraphs of heaven / Coveted her.”

Two interesting facts related to this Edgar Allan Poe poem are that it was published posthumously; and, that the debate among literary critics as to who was Poe’s inspiration/”Annabel Lee” in this poem is still going on.

Structural Analysis

In this poem, Poe employs a range of poetic techniques. The rhyme scheme of the poem is abab. It has two meters – anapest and spondee. The former has the rhythm pattern of da-da-dum [unstressed/unstressed/ stressed] such as, “It was many and many a year ago,/ In a kingdom by the sea,….” The latter has two consecutive accented syllables used in the first words of different lines “But we loved with a love that was more than love–…./And this was the reason that, long ago”).

Poe has also used repetition, alliteration and consonance. He made use of repeated phrases and words to create a woeful effect. These words include “Annabel Lee”, “me”, “Kingdom by the sea”, “my darling” and “love”. Internal rhyme is also used as a poetic device in which rhyme occurs within a line “beams, dreams”, “chilling and killing”, “rise, eyes”, and “tide, side”. The long rhyme “e” is used consistently throughout the poem, which gives rhythm and calming effect “me, lee and sea”.

Guidance for Usage of Quotes

Lovers can quote several phrases and lines from this poem to express their great love or to use as terms of endearments. Good examples of phrases that can be used to address a person’s loved one are “the beautiful Annabel Lee” and “my darling–my darling–my life”.

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