E.A. Poe- Annabel Lee- Analysis

Essay by sarah_High School, 12th gradeA+, May 2005

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Most people agree that Edgar Allan Poe wrote "Annabel Lee" about his departed wife, Virginia Clemm, who died of tuberculosis two years earlier. Some critics, however, contend that in the seventh line of the poem he states, "I was a child and she was a child," and he certainly was no child in 1836 at twenty-seven when he married his thirteen-year-old bride. Maybe the poem is about an earlier love, or perhaps it is purely fictional, but addressing Annabel Lee as his "life and [his] bride" in line thirty-eight and writing it two years after his beloved young wife's death, it is seems logical that it is indeed written about her and is simply embellished with a bit of poetic license.

In this poem, Poe writes primarily with a combination of iambic and anapestic feet, alternating between tetrameter and trimeter. The word "chilling," however, is permitted in both places it is used, lines fifteen and twenty-five, to retain its jarring trochaic meter (one stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable).

This is done most probably to utilize the provoking effect of that meter; the death of the speaker's loved one disturbs the rhythm of the poem and startles the reader. End rhyme in the poem alternates lines with a few variations and bears little significance; the repeated rhyming words are: "Lee," "sea," "me," and "we."

In "Annabel Lee" the speaker argues in lines eleven and twelve that the angels were jealous of the happy couple: "the winged seraphs of heaven coveted her and me." The envious angels, he insists, caused the wind to chill his bride and seize her life. However, he contends, their love, stronger than the love of the older or wiser couples, can never be conquered:

And neither the angles in heaven above,