What did Annabel Lee's kinsmen do when she died in "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allan Poe? 

Expert Answers
sangelis84 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Edgar Allan Poe's poem "Annabel Lee" tells the story of two young lovers who lived together in a "kingdom by the sea." Their love was "a love that was more than love." For that reason (in the narrator's telling), the "wingèd seraphs of Heaven" became jealous of the lovers, and sent a cold wind that "chill[ed]" and killed Annabel Lee. 

When Annabel Lee dies,

Her highborn kinsmen came

And bore her away from me,

To shut her up in a sepulchre

In this kingdom by the sea.

Narrowly speaking, this passage tells us that Annabel Lee's kinsmen buried her in a sepulchre—a small room, usually carved out of a rock, in which dead people are entombed.

The poem also says Annabel Lee's kinsmen "bore her away" from the narrator. The meaning of this phrase is more ambiguous. It may mean, very simply, that Annabel Lee's kinsmen took her body away from the narrator in order to properly bury it. The fact that the kinsmen are described as "highborn" suggests that the narrator may have been of lower social status, however, and that in "bearing her away," the kinsmen are also reclaiming Annabel Lee after she made an undesirable attachment to someone below her station.

lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When the angels killed Annabel Lee because of their jealousy of the love she shared with the poem's narrator, her relatives had to come take her away from him.

So that her high-born kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea

There is more to it than her relatives burying her, however. The fact that they, and presumably not the narrator, are high-born implies that Annabel Lee had a higher social standing than the narrator.  When the poem was written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1849 a woman generally took on the social standing of her husband. A match for her with a poorer man would have not been approved of by her relatives, and there is a good chance they had run away together. The narrator is obsessed with Annabel Lee, and continues to be obsessed; he sleeps next to her body in her tomb each night.