Annabel Lee Analysis

For day two of Gothic Romance Week, I have decided to do an analysis of Annabel Lee.   I had originally thought to do a line-by-line analysis, but I really enjoyed my stanza-by-stanza analysis of The Raven yesterday, so I will be doing the same thing with Annabel Lee today!   Once again, I found the text of the poem on poetryfoundation.org.

Annabel Lee

BY EDGAR ALLAN 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. 

  • This beginning stanza sets up a bit of a poetic faerytale.   It gives the reader the first part of a story about a young maiden in love who goes by the name Annabel Lee.   The fact that the narrator specifically states that Annabel lived with no other thought than love shows her romantic and idealistic nature.   

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 wingèd seraphs of Heaven 

   Coveted her and me. 

  • In the second stanza, we get a deeper realization of the depth of the love between the narrator and Annabel.   Their love was so deep that they were coveted by angels.   Even though they were only children when their love began, it was more than simple childish fancy.   

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 highborn kinsmen came 

   And bore her away from me, 

To shut her up in a sepulchre 

   In this kingdom by the sea. 

  • In the third stanza, we first learn of the death of Annabel.   She was shut up in a tomb when the wind blew out of a cloud chilling her.   The reference to her highborn kinsmen shows that they were the ones to have her body interred upon her demise.

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. 

  • In the fourth stanza, the narrator plainly states that the fact that the angels envied the love between himself and Annabel is the reason for her death.   He is outright accusing them of sending the wind to kill her.   

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; 

  • In the fifth stanza, the narrator shows his undying love for Annabel, stating that they are soulmates.   He knows that nothing can ever truly sever their connection, not even death itself!

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.

  • In the final stanza, he admits that not a day or night goes by and that his thoughts are not with his beloved.   He outright refers to her as his bride, which may be taken with the previous reference to having nothing sever their souls to be a reversal of the standard “until death do us part” of the marriage vows.   He believes that death did not part him and Annabel.   In the end, he is implying that he spends his nights in the tomb laying by her dead body.   It can alternately refer to his desire to end his life to be reunited with her in death!

~I hope that you have enjoyed this analysis.   Do you have other interpretations of this poem?   Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!