Literary Devices In Annabel Lee

What are some of the literary devices in Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee" is a narrative poem, much like a fairy tale, that transports the reader to a magical "kingdom by the sea." In fact, this narrative is composed in ballad style, with the first four lines written with the traditional rhyme scheme of abab with tetrameter used in the first and third lines, and trimeter used in the second and fourth lines.

Adding to the musical quality of this ballad form, Poe employs repetition and refrain: 

  • The words love and loved run throughout the narrative
  • The beloved "Annabel Lee" is repeated throughout the stanzas
  • In the third stanza "kingdom of the sea" is repeated twice in order to emphasize
  • "child" is repeated in the second stanza for emphasis on the lovers' youth
  • "kingdom by the sea" acts as a refrain in the second line of the first three stanzas and the fourth line of the fourth stanza.

Moving the lines quickly is alliteration with /l/ in line 9: "But we loved with a love that was more than love" and /h/ in the line 21: "The angels, not half so happy in heaven."

Poe also makes use of the connotation of words. For example, he uses the word sepulcher rather than tomb, suggesting that Annabel Lee is from an upper class family; and to suggest the speaker's terrible isolation, Poe employs the phrases "shut her up" and "away from me" rather than writing "buried."

There is the effective use of imagery in the third stanza, suggesting the disturbing effect of the jealousy of the "seraphs of heaven," who are the fates. This tactile imagery comes from such words as in the third stanza: "A wind blew out of a cloud," "Chilling my Annabel Lee," 

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee" uses many different types of literary devices. The first device is genre. In tone, diction, and subject matter, "Annabel Lee" references the traditional genre of the ballad, evoking the sentiments and historical associations of folk tales and songs.

As a poem, "Annabel Lee" uses the literary devices of rhyme and meter. As is true with many ballads, Poe's poem mixes iambic and anapestic feet to give it a lilting, musical quality. Poe also uses rhyme in this poem and repeated words at the ends of lines. There are four words used multiple times at the end of lines in this poem: me, we, sea, and Lee. Two other frequent rhyme words are "love" and "know." This degree of repetition adds a hypnotic quality to the poem. There are also internal rhymes within lines such as "chilling and killing" and "rise ... eyes".

Another frequent literary device used in this poem is comparison, especially in the form of hyperbole, as seen in the lines:

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,

Went envying her and me—



bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although Edgar Allan Poe may not have utilized as many literary devices in "Annabel Lee" as he did in his longer poems such as "The Raven" and "The Bells," there are still many too be found.

  • REPETITION.  This is an important facet of the poem, as the various repeated words (such as "Annabel Lee," "kingdom by the sea," and the forms of "love") create a relationship between one another as well as unifying the poem.
  • ANAPESTS & IAMBS:  These rhythmic forms are established in the first two lines.
  • SPONDEE.  Consecutive stressed syllables are found in abundance, especially in the first words of many of the lines.
  • PERSONIFICATION.  In lines 11-12, "winged seraphs of heaven / Coveted her..."
  • INTERNAL RHYME.  "...ever dissever" (line 32( is just one example.