Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee” is about the death of his young wife Annabel Lee

Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee” is about the death of his young wife Annabel Lee. The poem describes the unseen love the speaker has for Annabel Lee, which began many years ago in an unnamed “kingdom by the sea.” In his poem, Poe is able to really give reader’s an understanding of his deep affection for his beloved Annabel Lee.

In the poem, the rhyming structure plays a big role. Poe’s main purpose for using rhythm/rhyme is to introduce a new method of expressing the speaker’s grief. The name “Annabel Lee” is an important part of the rhyming scheme throughout the poem. Poe further enhances the rhythm of the poem with alliteration in “but we loved with a love that was more than love”, which emphasizes to the reader, the strong relationship between the two lovers. There is a rhyming link in “chilling” and “killing” (lines 25 and 26) which kind of exaggerates the horror of Annabel Lee’s death. The poem’s rhyme scheme is an ababcb pattern. As the lines increase in length and number in the last stanza, its dramatic pitch also intensifies. His grievance for Annabel Lee also escalates, thus depicting Poe’s unconditional love for her. The final stanza has an internal rhyming scheme, which mimics the rhythm of the waves ultimately serving as Annabel Lee’s Sepulchre, and the speaker’s mental condition. The rhythm of the poem is mostly written in iambic feet, alternating between tetrameter and trimeter. However, the word “chilling” in lines fifteen and twenty-five is used to disturb the rhythm and startle the reader by highlighting the death of the speaker’s loved one. Thus, Edgar Allan Poe’s use of rhythm is very important in understanding the essence of the speaker’s love for Annabel Lee.

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Even though “Annabel Lee” is not exactly a ballad, Poe referred to it as one because it utilizes repetition of words and phrases purposely to create a mournful effect. Edgar Allen Poe uses assonance several times in the poem by repeating the “e” sound. In the first stanza, Line 2,4 and 6 ends with sea, Lee, and me respectively. The other five stanzas also contain the repeated sound of the long “e.” Another example of assonance is from Stanza 6 “and so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side/Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride…” (Poe). Furthermore, Poe also heavily relies on alliteration, for instance “it was stronger by far than the love/Of those who were older than we- /Of many far wiser than we-. (Poe). All of these sound devices help to create more pleasing sound patterns. Line 21 uses alliteration in repeating the “h” sound suggesting the blowing of wind. Between the fifth and sixth stanzas, “Of the beautiful Annabel Lee” is repeated thrice to draw the reader’s attention to this line.

Light and dark

Throughout his poem, the use of light and dark imagery helps the reader to grasp the strong feelings of loss he continues to experience long after her passing. Invoking a dreamlike atmosphere when talking about “a kingdom by the sea” (Poe) Poe implies that the fictional kingdom is a bright land of enchantment where the speaker and Annabel Lee fell in love as children. By addressing Annabel Lee as a “maiden” rather than a “woman,” he draws images of purity and innocence to the reader’s mind. Dark imagery is shown in stanza two, when the winged seraphs of heaven, who are supposed to be bringers of God ‘s light, become envious of the relationship between him and Annabel Lee. The wind blowing out of a “cloud” instead of just the sky infuses a sense of dread in the dark envy of the angels. The cloud, in this case, shuts out Heaven ‘s light and without light, the lovers become victims of forces beyond their control. He mourns that when she died a part of him died with her. Yet, the speaker remains in the realm of light, for he believes that his soul and Annabel Lee’s are one. “For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams /…And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes” (Poe). By associating the occurrence of moonbeams with dreams and the radiance of Annabel Lee ‘s eyes with star light, Poe emphasizes that even in darkness, light will prevail. The moon beams and stars also function as a tomb for Annabel Lee, shining down on him from the Sepulchre of the night sky. Thus, it is apparent that the use of imagery is extremely important in bringing solace to the grieving lover.

So, Edgar Allen Poe has successfully conveyed to the readers his emotions about his loss through the form and style of the poem and the use of sound devices, and imagery, accordingly making it one the best poems I have read. Written in a fairytale type story, Poe expresses his deep love for Annabel Lee, hence showcasing the main theme of the poem. Regardless of how old they are, the speaker feels that he can provide everything she needs because in his eyes, love is the most important characteristic. “Annabel Lee” remains popular as a timeless grief for the fate that comes between lovers.


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