This narrative poem describes the love between the speaker and Annabel Lee. How does this speaker differ from the one in Poe’s “The Raven”?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

After the death of his wife, Edgar Allan Poe was distraught and often wrote poems with speakers dealing with strong and powerful emotions. Although "Annabel Lee" and "The Raven" both have speakers that have lost their wives, the tones are entirely different. "Annabel Lee" is a poem about the love the speaker and Annabel Lee shared, and although it is sad, it is a beautiful remembrance. The speaker in Poe's "The Raven," however, is drawn to madness by the loss of his wife, Lenore, and it is dark, dismal, and disenchanting.

The speaker in "Annabel Lee" is somber, yet romantic. In stanza two, Poe writes,

But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my Annabel Lee—

The tone and rhythm of the poem is often compared to a waltz—delicate and swift. In addition to the beautiful tempo, Poe's use of words like "kingdom," "seraph," "demon," and "heaven" create a supernatural scene. The speaker has romanticized their love past her death.

In comparison, the speaker of Poe's "The Raven" is simply trying to cope. Begging the heavens to bring him "respite and nepenthe from ... memories" of his wife, the speaker is struggling with what is real and what is imagination. He believes there is a visitor because of a tapping noise but soon discovers the absence of a human. Poe writes in stanza four,

... here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Throughout the poem, the speaker—while focused on his loved one, similar to the speaker in "Annabel Lee"—is much more focused on discovering truth and staying sane than reliving their romance.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial