- All the women in Poe’s life died young, including his mother, sister, and wife.
- Poe’s wife was much younger, like unlawful in 37 states young. Poe married his 13-year old cousin in 1833. She burst a blood vessel nine years later and remained an invalid until her death in 1847. Virginia’s death devastated Poe, who continued to abuse alcohol and drugs until his death in 1849.
- “Annabel Lee,” written in 1849, was addressed to Virginia and tells of the death of a young woman.
- Many of Poe’s works demonstrate a fascination with death.
Follow the steps on how to do a poem analysis to finish analyzing “Annabel Lee.”
My initial analysis produces the following observations.
- Rhyme Scheme - a b a b x b, x a x a x a, x a x a x a x a, x a x a x a, a b b a b x b, x a x a b b a a
- The long e rhyme is consistent throughout, repeating often Lee, me, and sea.
- Repetition is critical - Kingdom by the sea, Annabel Lee, love, me, my darling
- Internal Rhyme in last line of stanza 4, “chilling and killing” draws extra attention to Annabel Lee’s death.
- Annabel Lee is the idealized woman, at an idealized time (youth), in an idealized place (Kingdom by the sea).
- Their love made the angels jealous.
- Physical death has not separated their love. Their souls are still connected.
- Annabel Lee is a much more poetic name than Virginia Clemm.
Poe honors his deceased wife in his poem of idealized love, “Annabel Lee." The poem tells of the death of a young woman and was originally addressed to his wife Virginia, who died, not coincidentally, as a young woman. Annabel Lee is a more fitting name for his idealized woman, Virginia Clemm not being an easy name to rhyme with (phlegm, hem, them, gem not really doing it for me). In addition to its ease of rhyme, Annabel Lee provides the natural rhythm of iambic pentameter and the “bel” in her name has a subconscious ring to it.
The poem contains an idealized female with an ideal, poetic name, an idealized setting, a kingdom by the sea, and an idealized time period, youth. The love is so ideal that the angels kill her out of jealousy. Poe uses alliteration and consonance to heighten the contrast between his love and her death: he mentions, “the demons down under the sea…can [n]ever dissever my soul from the soul of the beautiful Annabel Lee” (31-33), while maintaining his claim that physical death holds no dominion over their love.
This post is part of the series: The Edgar Allan Poe Poetry Study Guide
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered how in the world I was going to finish my Edgar Allan Poe poetry assignment, I came across this great study guide.