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Edgar Allan Poe is called by some people as the master of the macabre because most of his horror tales include ghastly details. He is also known as the inventor of the detective story, a science fiction writer and also a very effective critic. He is one of America’s best poets, born in Boston Massachusetts. “Annabel Lee” is Edgar Allan Poe’s poem written in a depressed setting as he mourns over his lover’s death. Some events in Poe’s life may just have served as an inspiration for this poem. In his life, he married his cousin Virginia Clemm secretly, and didn’t make it public until one year later.
Virginia was thirteen years old when they got married. We are told that she later on died of tuberculosis in 1847 after which Poe had a series of romantic relationships or attachments with other women. He died in 1849 (Gale 1). This is why according to many critics; Annabel Lee is about Poe’s wife. But according to the seventh line of this poem that states, “I was a child and she was a child,” one may be compelled to say that may be Poe’s poem is about an earlier love. This because when Poe married he was 26, or may this is just pure fiction. But line thirty eight of the poem confirms that it was actually about his wife when he addresses Annabel Lee as his “life and his bride” (Gale1).)
Lines 5-8 of this poem introduce the reader to the relationship of the speaker to Annabel Lee relating their relative youth. According to these lines, one finds out that Annabel was very much devoted to the speaker, that her only thought was to “love and be loved” by him, this is stressed by the repetition of the words love and loved. The repetition of the word child in line 7 suggests that this was an innocent love, youthful, and free from corruption from by the adult world. According to the writer, this love was beyond earthly affection, he suggests in lines 9-12 that “the winged seraphs” were envious of their love. Poe emphasizes the jealousy of the angels in lines 13-16, where he blames them for killing Annabel Lee at night. He says that the chilling wind from the sky, the dwelling place for the angels, caused the death of his wife (Poe 1).
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The background of Annabel Lee is brought out in lines 17-20 where her funeral is also talked about. The lines refer to her “highborn kinsmen”, suggesting that she was from an upper class family. The use of the word ‘sepulcher instead of the common tomb, also highlights her social class. The speaker’s worry that others will “shut her up” and put her “away from me”, confirms the finality of their separation. The speaker’s belief that the envious angels are the cause Annabel’s death is repeated in lines 21-26. Lines 27-29 remind the reader about the deep love that existed between the speaker and Annabel Lee. The speaker is faithful and makes it clear that his loyalty to Annabel will continue beyond death despite the attempt by ‘angels’ to destroy their love, this is seen in lines 30-33. The last lines of the poem talk about death, where we see the lying beside the tomb of his departed wife (Sova 24).
This poem contains themes that can be found in many of Poe’s work. Although the theme of love comes out too strongly, the poem looks at other themes beyond love, themes that cover issues such as memory and reminiscence, the consequences of death to the living, and the destruction of innocence. The poem presents the reader with the comforting notion that loved ones can leave physically, but a spiritual connection can still be maintained. Poe brings this out by using romantic and poetic superlatives and metaphors to describe their love even after the death of Annabel. He thinks of her every moment of his life, in the last part of the poem, Poe poetically describes his wife’s state, “in he sepulcher there by the sea” but translates this poetic diction using plain terms “in her tomb by the sea”. He uses repetition not just to augment her state of being but also to translate the diction of the first line to simpler words in the second line.
This makes it clear to the reader. The poem’s diction also serves to reinforce the speaker’s argument. When Poe addresses Annabel as a “maiden” in lines 3 and 5 but not just a woman, he brings out the idea of purity and innocence in the mind of the reader. Alliteration of letter H in the phrase “half so happy in heaven” makes the sound appear harsh, like a rebuke to the angels. End rhyme in the poem has little importance, but internal rhyme has been more expressed. For instance chilling and killing in line 25 emphasizes the sudden end of the speaker’s love life. The words “ever dissever” appearing in lines 31 emphasize their affection’s longevity. This was an affection that the speaker struggled to maintain against the disapproval of others who appeared to be more socially powerful than him. First marrying at an early age means that their marriage was first opposed by the adult world, then later on the angels, who according to the speaker are envious of their love, and later on “her high-born kinsmen” take her body away from the speaker (Poe 1).
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