Annabel Lee Summary and Analysis: Lines 1-20
by Edgar Allan Poe

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Summary and Analysis: Lines 1-20

(Poetry for Students)

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Lines 1-2:
Poe introduces the setting of "Annabel Lee" in these lines. Though vague, his use of "many and many a year ago" shows with its repetition that the poem will tell about an event that occurred in the far past. The physical location "a kingdom by the sea" and the use of the abstract time frame produce a romantic, legendary quality for the narrative setting. These lines also establish the rhythmical use of anapests and iambs. Here, however, the first two syllables may be read as a spondee, a combination of two stressed syllables in a row. If one emphasizes both words "It was" and keeps stress also on the first syllable of "many," the poem begins with the strong effect of three stressed syllables in a row.

Lines 3-4:
These lines introduce the character of Annabel Lee. Her description as someone "whom you may know" adds to the legendary quality of the poem, and the use of the personal pronoun "you" creates a feeling of intimacy between the speaker and the reader.

Lines 5-6:
The speaker's relationship to Annabel Lee is introduced in these lines. Her devotion to the speaker, whom we later learn (in line 39) was her husband, appears in the fact that her only thought was to "love and be loved" by the speaker. The repetition of "love"/"loved" emphasizes the relationship between the two.

Lines 7-8:
The repetition of the word "child" in line 7 establishes the youth of both characters at the time of Annabel Lee's death. It implies that their love was an innocent love, removed from the corruption that may be associated with the adult world. The repetition in line 8 of line 2 from the first stanza presents the phrase as a refrain, creating a harmonious, linking effect every time it is used in the poem.

Lines 9-12:
These lines associate the relationship between the speaker and his bride with heavenly qualities. Through repetition of the words "love" and "loved" the magnitude of their feelings develops. The suggestion that angels—"the wingéd seraphs"—envy or covet the lovers' feelings for one another elevates this relationship above any other on earth or in heaven.

Lines 13-16:
In line 13 the pronoun "this" refers to the jealousy of the angels introduced in lines 11-12, while line 14 repeats the refrain from the first two stanzas. In line 15 the speaker...

(The entire section is 595 words.)