Discuss the language employed by Edgar Allan Poe in "Annabel Lee."

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Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee” ranks as one of the saddest, love poems in literature.  This was one of the last poems that Poe wrote and was even published after his death. His personal life speaks to the death of his own wife Virginia who had died two years before.  The poem is an intense, fascinating testament to an undying love.


The narration of the poem is first person point of view.  Poe’s narrator expresses his passion for this young girl who died to soon. The speaker laments this death and expresses his obsession about her.


The form of the poem Poe begins with six stanzas. The stanzas include pairs of long and short lines. The most important aspect of the poem is the rhyme scheme.  The short lines always end with a word that has a long e sound or ee: sea, Lee, we, and me.

The language of the poem offers an emotional experience.  The loneliness and sadness that pervade the poem express a lost love. Every thought and all the dreams he has -- everything has to do with this dead lover.

The language and imagery that Poe chose gives the poem a lyrical flow and strength of emotion.  “Annabel Lee” provides a story of a man and a woman who loved so much that the angels were envious of them.  Every thought and all of the speaker’s dreams have everything to do with the death of his love.

Carefully choosing the words that would evoke a dreamy fantasy atmosphere, the poet echoes his love repeatedly.  The poem takes place in a kingdom, suggesting chivalry and romance. The young woman is described as a child, a maiden, and his darling. Addressing her burial chamber, the word sepulcher is first used; however, later he calls her resting place a tomb which implies a more deathly, funeral ring.


The imagery that Poe uses implies a light and dark mood.  When Annabel Lee was a child and the speaker and she were young, the poem takes a lyrical, almost happy mood. The mood becomes dark when she dies and the speaker is refused access to her by her kinsman. In the reader’s mind, the picture is clearly painted of the kingdom by the sea and the beautiful sepulcher built to hold her corpse. 

On the other hand, the narrator says he remains in a realm of light, for his soul and the soul of Annabel Lee are one. When Poe describes the angels who try to separate him from her after her death, he uses one of the most beautiful lines of poetry to denote that nothing will take them from each other:

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

Every thought and all the dreams he has -- everything has to do with this love that was lost.

This is a poem that cries to be read aloud to listen to the wonderful combinations of words and alliterative phrases that bring such strong emotions from the speaker to the reader. How much more can a man love a woman than to sleep with her dead body every night in her tomb!



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