“Annabel Lee” is a ballad, a narrative poem that was designed for recitation or singing. The poem has six stanzas, each having six to eight lines. In the first stanza, which has six lines, the first four lines use traditional ballad stanza form. In the ABAB rhyme scheme, Lines 1 and 3 have four metrical feet, and Lines 2 and 4 have three feet. The poem uses a first-person speaker who is a heartbroken man. Stanza 5 has a different structure, with an additional extra three-foot line; altering the rhythm draws the reader’s attention.
The rhyme and rhythm contribute to the overall imagery of a story set “by the sea.” The short lines rhyme with “sea,” ending with long E, such as “Lee” and “me”; in the three-foot lines, these rhymes take on a wavelike cadence. Edgar Allan Poe also extensively employs internal rhyme, adding to the sea-like sound: examples are “never dissever” and “chilling and killing.”