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Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe

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In the Poem Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe, the narrator is an individual lovestruck by Annabel Lee. Many believe this love-struck individual to be Edgar Allan Poe himself. Seeing as the structure of poem is almost as if someone were telling a story, the audience may very well be any attentive group of listeners, listening to a love story. The poem tells the story of an individual in love who mourns for the loss of his loved one, whom he has been in love with since they were children. He blames her death on the angels because they envied her and his love. He laments and is obsessed about the love that they possessed.

Annabel Lee doesn’t really follow a specific literary structure; however, it is very similar to an anapest and ballad in structure and has many interesting points to discuss. It is similar in structure to a anapest because it follows in general a rhythm of da-da-dum. On the other hand, the utilization of repeated words and phrases to create a mournful effect is a feature of a ballad, which is what Edgar Allan Poe claimed it to be. Poe is able to skillfully dictate the pace of the poem as though if it were climbing throughout. The stanzas get longer and the rhyme scheme becomes more complicated, creating an increasing sense of drama within the poem.

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The rhyme scheme is one that is similar throughout the whole poem, but with slight variations

It almost always follows an ab*b*b... form, deviating only slightly in the last two stanzas. Also, the phrases are in the format of long - short, long - short, creating a lulling rhythm and easy to read piece of poetry when combined with the rhyme scheme and the plentiful rhymes scattered throughout the poem.

Another point to note is that the phrases “Of the beautiful Annabel Lee” (Poe,2012, p.388) and “In a kingdom by the sea” (Poe,2012, p.388) are constantly repeated. This repetition, combined with the literary devices (discussed later) of these two phrases, helps show how the speaker constantly thinks of Annabel and demonstrates how obsessed and in love he is.

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The main imagery used in this poem is the repeated phrase “In this kingdom by the sea”. The image this immediately gives is a castle that sits on a ledge overlooking the sea, which gives off a feeling of beauty and majestic romance which adds to the feeling of love present throughout the poem. This also makes the poem a bit childlike, further supported by his claim that “I was a child and she was a child”. (Poe,2012, p.388) However, this in no way detracts from the love felt throughout the poem as this childlikeness is supposed to link us to fantasy - the type of love that he felt he had with Annabel Lee.

The phrase “Of the beautiful Annabel Lee is repeated constantly throughout the poem. This figurative language portrays that Annabel Lee is beautiful; however, the fact that it is repeated throughout the poem adds even more to this description as it shows that the speaker can find no faults in Annabel Lee and only sees her as beautiful.

The poem also alludes to the Bible through its mention of “seraphs of heaven”, “angels”, and “demons”. This is used to emphasize how tragic the loss of Annabel was to the speaker as he blames it on the angels and relates them to “demons down under the sea” for their actions. This sudden comparison of angels to demons is a huge disgrace and insult to an angels, reflecting just how mad the speaker is at them.

Of course, Annabel Lee is a huge symbol by herself

Literally, this poem is talking about a girl named Annabel Lee who had just died to a cold. However, Annabel Lee is obviously a symbol for a loved one of the poet, Edgar Allan Poe, who passed away.

Finally, the “tomb” mentioned in the last stanza is also symbol. Taken literally, it means that the speaker goes to her grave each day to lie down with her to show his love and to be close to her. However, it can also be a symbol for the fact that the speaker is going to die soon and will finally be rejoined with his loved Annabel Lee. The strange thing is that Edgar Allan Poe really did die the same year that he wrote this poem.

This poem is a rather straightforward one, so the only solid interpretation is that Edgar Allan Poe is grieving over the recent death of a loved one, with the theme being of course to convey the speaker’s grief and extreme love towards whoever Annabel Lee represents. However, there is room for interpretation as to who exactly this Annabel Lee is. Most claim that it is his wife Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe, which is supported by the fact that they were in fact married at a young age, matching the phrase “I was a child and she was a child” (Poe,2012, p.388). However, some others have claimed that it is a long lost love from the past that Edgar Allan Poe was unable to marry. 

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