Explicating “Annabel Lee”
I. Introduction
a. Paraphrase the poem (not summary; idea-by-idea)
b. Identify a theme of the poem
The theme of Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee” is that of loss.
II. Body
a. Literary devices and figurative language—consider how the poet’s choice of
language reinforces the message of the poem
i. Simile
ii. Metaphor- “That
wind…chilling and
killing my Annabel
iii. The wind can be a
metaphor for the
consumption that killed
Poe’s wife Virginia.
iv. Hyperbole- “Love that
the winged seraphs of
heaven coveted” (The
angels were jealous)
v. “That is the reason”
(The angels killed her
because of jealousy).
The hyperbole of the
angel’s involvement in
Annabel Lee’s death,
shows how loss creates
blame for the narrator.
He chooses to deal with
the loss by blaming the
vii. Sensory detail
viii. Allusion
4 elements (earth, water, air, fire)
“Kingdom by the sea” (Water)
The repetition of the element water
(sea) connects both the positive
reflection of love, and his tragic loss.
“Wind” (air)
The wind represents the force that kills
“And the stars” (fire)
The stars always remind him of his
b. Sound devices—consider how sound devices help create mood and reflect or
reinforce message of poem
i. Rhyme
continues throughout
Poe uses a ABABCB
the poem.
end rhyme scheme in
ii. Meter
his first stanza. The B
iii. Alliteration
rhyme of sea
“half so happy in heaven”
“In the sepulcher there by the
iv. Assonance
v. Consonance
“In a kingdom by the sea”
The repetition of the
sea connects both
the positive
reflection of love,
and his tragic loss.
III. Conclusion—Brief restatement of the theme/idea and the poem’s
strengths; consider relevance to reader
Poe uses both figurative language and sound devices to effectively express his theme of
loss in “Annabel Lee.” Although the narrator and Annabel seem to be Poe and his wife,
he uses a different name, which adds to the reader being able to identify with the loss.
The anapestic meter make the tone of the poem light like a nursery rhyme, juxtaposed
against the dark theme.
Terminology Definitions:
Alliteration: The effect created when words with the same initial letter (usually consonants) are
used in close proximity
Allusion: Where a poem makes reference to another poem or text.
Assonance: The effect created when words with the same vowel sound are used in close
proximity - but where the consonants in these words are different.
Cacophony: harshness in the sound of words or phrases
Consonance: The effect created when words share the same stressed consonant sounds but where
the vowels differ. Single consonance occurs when two words share one set of consonants e.g.
'brick' and 'clock' which share a 'ck'. Double consonance occurs when two words share all the
same consonants e.g. in 'black' and 'block'.
Figurative language: Language where the literal meaning of words or phrases is disregarded in
order to show an imaginative relationship between diverse things.
Mood/Tone: The 'tone' of a poem reveals the attitude of the poet being studied e.g. anger, love,
resignation, despair, fear, boredom etc.
Imagery: The creation of images using words. Poets usually achieve this by invoking
comparisons by means of metaphor or simile or other figures of speech.
Symbol: Words or images that signify more than they literally represent e.g. the 'sun' or the
'moon'. Symbols can carry a number of different connotations.
Diction: A writer’s choice of words, particularly for clarity, effectiveness, and precision. A
writer’s diction can be formal or informal, abstract or concrete.
Rhyme: The effect produced when similar vowel sounds chime together and where the final
consonant sound is also in agreement
Meter: the regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables that make up a line of poetry.
Meter gives rhythm and regularity to poetry.
Hyperbole: A figure of speech involving exaggeration.
Personification: The endowment of inanimate objects or abstract concepts with animate or living
Caesura: A strong pause within a line of verse.
Onomatopoeia: The use of words to imitate the sounds they describe. Words such as buzz and
crack are onomatopoetic.
Juxtaposition: The arrangement of two or more ideas, characters, actions, settings, phrases, or
words side-by-side or in similar narrative moments for the purpose of comparison, contrast,
rhetorical effect, suspense, or character development.
Euphony: (from Greek "good sound"): Attempting to group words together harmoniously, so
that the consonants permit an easy and pleasing flow of sound when spoken.
Simile: A simile is a figure of speech used for comparison in the poetry with the words ‘like’ or
‘as’, for example, "as black as coal".
Metaphor: Metaphor is used in poetry to make an implicit comparison. Unlike simile, here the
comparison is implied, for example, ‘Her laughter, a babbling brook’.