Annabel Lee. by Edgar A. Poe It was many and many a year ago, In a kingdom by the sea, That a maiden there lived whom you may know By the name of Annabel Lee; — And this maiden she lived with no other thought Than to love and be loved by me. I was a child and she was a child, In this kingdom by the sea; But we loved with a love that was more than love — I and my Annabel Lee — With a love that the wingéd seraphs in Heaven Coveted her and me. And this was the reason that, long ago, In this kingdom by the sea, A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling My beautiful Annabel Lee; So that her high-born kinsmen came And bore her away from me, To shut her up in a sepulchre, In this kingdom by the sea. The angels, not half so happy in Heaven, Went envying her and me — Yes! — that was the reason (as all men know, In this kingdom by the sea) That the wind came out of the cloud by night, Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee. But our love it was stronger by far than the love Of those who were older than we — Of many far wiser than we — And neither the angels in Heaven above, Nor the demons down under the sea, Can ever dissever my soul from the soul Of the beautiful Annabel Lee: — For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes Of the beautiful Annabel Lee: — And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side Of my darling — my darling — my life and my bride, In her sepulchre there by the sea — In her tomb by the sounding sea. 1. What is the structure of this poem? 2. Who is the speaker in the poem? 3. What is the occasion of the poem? 4. What is the tone of the poem? 5. List two sound techniques that Poe uses in the poem. 6. List two literary devices that Poe uses in the poem. Annabel Lee Theme of Love Love is definitely the major theme of "Annabel Lee." Even if it's a little twisted in places, this is a poem about love. At its foundation it's about a guy who loves a girl, and refuses to quit loving her. The cool thing about this theme is that the poem doesn't stick to the sunny side of love. It digs deep into the dangerous parts of these emotions, the way love can trap you, torment you, and leave you sad and lonely. Love has made this guy who he is, but it's also clear that it has ruined his life. One day he's a happy kid with a girlfriend he loves a lot, the next thing we know he's sleeping next to a corpse every night. Love's a funny thing… Questions About Love 1. Is this poem a positive or a negative depiction of love? Is this how true love should look? 2. How does the poem compare romantic and parental love? 3. Does death always make love weaker? Do you believe it could make it stronger? How would the speaker respond to this question? 4. Does the depiction of the speaker's love change as the poem goes on? Chew on This Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate. While this poem begins as an expression of true love, it ends as a dark warning about the danger of obsession. The intensity of the speaker's love in "Annabel Lee" is a sign of his mental instability. Annabel Lee Theme of Mortality If love is the champion theme in "Annabel Lee," then mortality definitely comes in a close second. The speaker is obsessed with how and why Annabel died. He wants to know who he can blame for it. At the same time, the themes of death and love are tied together. The poem forces us to ask whether death is the end and has the power to kill love or whether, in fact love can triumph and continue after death. Maybe the speaker takes that idea a little more literally than he should, but that's his business. In a general way, we can all relate to the ideas of grief and loss and fate that come up when you talk about death. Questions About Mortality 1. Do you think the speaker of this poem believes in life after death? Does that question matter in the context of "Annabel Lee." 2. Why do you think he has to blame the jealous angels for Annabel's death? 3. How do you draw the line between healthy and unhealthy grief? Do you think this poem has something to say about that difference? 4. Would you want to be remembered like this by your boyfriend or girlfriend? Chew on This Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate. Poe's portrait of excessive grief shows us the consequences of refusing to accept death as a fact of life. Poetry becomes a tool which the speaker can use to transcend death. This poem offers a way of keeping his beloved Annabel alive. Annabel Lee Theme of Family This theme doesn't come up nearly as often as love and death, but it's a really neat and important part of "Annabel Lee." This isn't a long poem, but Poe manages to weave all kinds of different themes into it. In this case he gives us just a hint that Annabel's family doesn't think much of him, and wants to tear the young lovers apart. In a sense, family gives him a way of talking about the pressure of outside society, all the people who can't understand how pure and true his love is. This is definitely an "us against the world," Romeo and Juliet kind of poem. Questions About Family 1. Parents are always complaining about how teenagers think they know everything. Do they sometimes? Do parents have any right to tell their kids who they can love? 2. What does including the "highborn kinsmen" add to this poem? How would it change things if Poe had left them out? 3. Do you think the speaker feels the same way about Annabel's kinsmen as he does about the jealous angels? If not, how are they different? Chew on This Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate. The presence and the actions of Annabel's family help to show the distance between the speaker's attitude and those of the larger society. The family, like the angels and the demons, is the symbol of a repressive, alienating, evil world, in which the only beautiful thing is the love of Annabel Lee. Annabel Lee Theme of The Supernatural Not only are the adults in this poem against the young lovers, it turns out that heaven and hell are lining up against them too. At least that's the speaker's theory. He never quite comes out and accuses God of taking away his girlfriend, but that seems like where he's headed. It's not exactly a religious deal, he just seems like a paranoid guy who thinks the whole universe, even the parts he can't see, is ganging up against him. When tragedy strikes, it's not uncommon for people to ask big angry questions about heaven and earth. Questions About The Supernatural 1. What's with all the angels and demons stuff? Is the speaker really blaming God for Annabel's death? 2. Do you think this poem is meant to sound like a real story? Do the angels make it sound more like a fairy tale than something that happened? 3. When you read all that spooky stuff in the last stanza, do you feel like Annabel is coming back to life? 4. Could this be a kind of ghost story rather than a love story? Is it both? Chew on This Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate. Although the poem emphasizes the intensity of the love story, it places it in a dream-like, unreal world, full of ghosts and demons and faraway kingdoms. Beauty and pure emotion matter more than psychological reality in this poem. The angels and demons offer a way for the speaker to soften the reality of death. By blaming spirits for killing Annabel Lee, he can soften the blow of her loss. Annabel Lee Theme of Man and the Natural World Even with all of these big questions on our plate, we can't forget about the importance of nature in "Annabel Lee." It's not something the speaker makes a big deal of, but nature is everywhere in this poem. The sea is the biggest example, but we also hear about the wind and the clouds and the stars and the moon. Sometimes it's a quiet, steady presence in the background, but like everything else in this poem, nature is always a little bit scary and threatening. You never quite imagine that sea being sunny and pretty, do you? Questions About Man and the Natural World 1. Why does Poe start and end this poem by talking about the sea? Is it just a sound, or a place, or maybe a metaphor? 2. Do you get a picture in your head of what the kingdom by the sea looks like? Would you want to live there? 3. Does the natural world seem good or evil in this poem? 4. Do you see the moon and the stars as beautiful and comforting or spooky and disturbing? Chew on This Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate. The natural world plays an ambiguous role in this poem. It threatens the speaker, and kills his beloved Annabel Lee, but it also comforts him by bringing her back in the moon and the stars. The poem is built around the central image of the sea, and the feeling and the sound of the ocean give it structure and meaning.