Are you looking for an Annabel Lee analysis? You’ve come to the right place. I’m going to go through Edgar Allan Poe’s poem almost line by line and share my own impression of the poem. I hope you find this useful. Let’s begin.
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 is utterly fantastic. A long time ago, in a place far, far away … We quickly recognize we are not in the domain of the real, but that of fairy tale. The leading lady here is a maiden, which I take to mean she’s not yet had her virginity taken. We don’t need to hear that she was beautiful, we know it instantly. And how about this, another person’s existence that totally depends on your own. A lovely maiden that only wants “to love and be loved” by you. This is a poem that can make you swoon.
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 winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
Such potent images on display here. Child could just mean innocent. Also, this must be a spiritual love not one of the flesh. It’s one that even seraphs covet – and it’s a love that is more than love. I mean, how can love be more than love? Perhaps it is a bond that unites souls.
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;
This is very enigmatic and could mean all sorts of things. Did the wind impregnate the maiden? Did the wind rape her? This might sound like a shocking interpretation at first, but consider the poem, “The Song of Hiawatha”, this is how Hiawatha’s mother conceives him – she is raped by the west wind. Indeed, Greek myths are full of this sort of stuff. Consider Boreas who wraps Oreithyia in a cloud and then rapes her. Indeed, chilling is the right word here, because we don’t quite know what has happened, but we certainly don’t like it.
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulcher
In this kingdom by the sea.
It’s as if her kinsmen see her as now being corrupt – as if she’d been tainted by the cloud. Did he perhaps make love to her and take away her maidenhood, and then have her taken from him as a result – against both their wishes? Is this a sort of Romeo and Juliet story? Why is it the kins men take the Annabel Lee away? What is the symbolism of her being locked in a sepulcher? Did he make love to her, and then as a result she died? All so mysterious.
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.
Okay, backing up here, here is one of many possible interpretations. The narrator and his Annabel Lee were pure, being motivated only by a pure form of love. The angels jealous that the narrator and Annabel Lee were more pure than even they, sent lust to the narrator. So he then felt lust for her, which ruined what had been a pure relationship with her. Maybe they had actual sex, and this some how diminished the pure love they felt. Something along these lines … I mean, who knows, but just to throw an interesting idea out there.
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.
Such extreme lyrics here. Neither the supposed agents of good or the real agents of evil can corrupt the love between the narrator and the object of his love. Here wisdom is not aligned with purity, instead, it’s perhaps seen as a corrupting force, destroying the spontaneity of simple feeling. Note here, “our love” is given the past tense. Is this merely because all of the story is in the past tense? But watch what happens in the next stanza, we go to present tense …
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 the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
This is the most enigmatic of all the stanzas. We’re suddenly removed from a time long, long ago, and we’re here in the present. The narrator holds the image, the form, the soul of his Annabel Lee in his own heart, where yet she lives. Yet, even more than this, he lies down beside her – has he died himself? And yet in some sense do the narrator and Annabel Lee still yet live?
Note it is not until the last stanza that the word “bride” is introduced – at first Annabel Lee is described as a maiden, until the wind takes her, and now here we are learning she is his bride. That is, she is a bride now not a maiden. She is no longer a virgin. Again, this brings us back to the wind imagery and what it might have implied – and what consequences it wrought.
Very beautiful, suggestive lines. The poem of Annabel Lee is such a pleasure to read. I hope you found the Annabel Lee analysis useful! Don’t forget to subscribe to our updates!