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Edgar Allan Poe and the Stages of Grief - Alana Wilson

Presenter: Alana Wilson
Living with Loss:
Edgar Allan Poe &
the Stages of Grief
While some scholars believe that the poem Annabel Lee most likely refers to
Edgar Allan Poe’s first love, Sarah Elmira Royster, it was written about his
former wife, Virginia. The raven magnifies Poe’s mental state and is
representative of his grieving stages over the loss of his wife. These two poems
highlight the downward spiral Poe had gone through after losing his wife and
subsequently succumbing to insanity.
The Identity
of Annabel
Virginia Clemm Poe
- “That the wind came out of
the cloud, chilling / [a]nd killing
my Annabel Lee” (Poe 260)
- “… Of my darling, my darling,
my life and my bride” (Poe
- “. . . Poe calls Annabel Lee ‘my
life and my bride.’ Unless
‘bride’ is used here only in the
spiritual sense, Annabel Lee is
Virginia Clemm Poe. And, in
addition, the implications of
the ‘chilling and killing’ of the
‘bride’ substantiate Virginia's
claim rather than [Sarah’s].”
(Booth 17)
Sarah Elmira Royster
- “She was a child and I was a
child” (Poe 260)
“… her highborn kinsmen came
/ [a]nd bore her away from
me” (Poe 260)
“Taking the circumstances
occurring shortly before Poe’s
death, and adding it to his
bittersweet memories of youth,
Poe’s Annabel Lee most likely
refers to his first love, Sarah
Elmira Royster.” (Dumas 318-9)
Stages of Grief
• After the passing of his wife, Poe was
in denial at first hoping that she had
come to visit him. He suddenly
descended into anger and rage upon the
realization that she’s never coming
back. After failing to bargain with “a
higher power” for more time with his
wife, Poe felt hopeless and was stricken
with depression. But eventually, he had
overcome his grief and was finally able
to adapt to his loss.
Work Cited
• Asselineau, Roger. “Edgar Allan Poe.” Edgar Allan Poe - American
Writers 89: University of Minnesota Pamphlets on American
Writers, NED-New edition, University of Minnesota Press, 1970,
pp. 5–44, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.cttttw02.2.
• Booth, Bradford A. “The Identity of Annabel Lee.” College
English, vol. 7, no. 1, National Council of Teachers of English,
1945, pp. 17–19, https://doi.org/10.2307/371416.
• Dumas, Jacky W. “The ‘Annabel Lee’ Blues: Re-Reading Edgar
Allan Poe’s Rhythm and Rhyme Scheme.” The Comparatist, vol.
43, no. 1, 2019, pp. 313–23. Crossref,
• Flatt, Bill. “Some Stages of Grief.” Journal of Religion and Health,
vol. 26, no. 2, Springer, 1987, pp. 143–48,
Work Cited
• Kelly, Joseph. “The Seagull Book of Poems.” Edgar
Allan Poe, Fourth, New York, NY, W. W. Norton and
Company, 2017, pp. 255–61.
• Kennedy, J. Gerald. "Edgar Allan Poe." Mystery and
Suspense Writers: The Literature of Crime, Detection,
and Espionage, edited by Robin W. Winks and Maureen
Corrigan, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998. Gale Literature
Resource Center,
&sid=bookmark-LitRC&xid=81c8ca13. Accessed 31
Mar. 2022.