Why, according to the speaker, did Annabel die in "Annabel Lee"?

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In the poem "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allan Poe, Poe writes about a lost love named Annabel Lee. The speaker and Annabel Lee loved one another “with a love that was more than love,” so intense and deep were their feelings for one another. Poe was a man who was impacted by the death of his parents at an early age. Left alone at a young age, the sense of abandonment is one that he reflects often in his writing, and he incorporates death, including the death of a loved one such as Annabel Lee, in much of his writing.

Thus, he writes that because they were so happy in their love, the heavenly angels—the seraphs—were jealous and wanted to put an end to their love. According to the poem, they sent a wind to extinguish the young couple’s love by chilling, and thereby killing the lovely Annabel Lee. He writes:

A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulcher

These lines make it clear that Annabel Lee died. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a sepulcher is “a place of burial” or a tomb. Poe even adds at the end of the poem discussing her burial site that Annabel Lee was placed,

In her sepulchre there by the sea—
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

However, in the poem Poe continues to say that the angels’ actions were fruitless. They could never extinguish a love as intense as the one he shared with Annabel Lee, which was deeper and stronger than people feel even if they are older and wiser than the two lovers described in the poem.

The poet says that his soul will never really be separated from Annabel Lee’s. He dreams about her every day. Whenever he sees the moon, he dreams about her. Whenever he sees the stars, he feels her beautiful eyes upon him. Thus, given his strong connection to Annabel Lee, which defies human senses, he lies down beside her side every night in her sepulcher or tomb by the sea.

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"Annabel Lee" is a poem written in a ballad style by Edgar Allan Poe. It is a pastiche of the folk song genre, featuring many of the same themes and motifs—particularly that of the lost childhood love and the tragically doomed female beloved, in this case the titular Annabel Lee herself.

According to the speaker, Annabel Lee was someone he had loved from their earliest childhood in a way that was "more than love." He argues that Annabel was so good that she was actually an angel—it is her "highborn kinsmen" who come and take her away from him. Later, he makes this more explicit, stating that the angels in heaven "went envying" the happy pair and therefore decided that they would take Annabel Lee back to heaven to join them.

The manner of Annabel Lee's death seems to have involved some kind of illness, the wind "chilling" her and causing her death. This suggests one of the many illnesses or wasting diseases which the Victorians believed could be caused by catching a chill, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis.

The speaker maintains that his beloved Annabel Lee still comes to him in dreams many years after her death and that he will never love anybody else as much as he loved her. He feels tethered to her even in death, revering her "sepulchre" by the sea where they lived.

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According to the speaker of the poem, Annabel Lee died because "the winged seraphs of Heaven / Coveted" the "love that was more than love" felt by the speaker and Annabel Lee for one another (lines 9, 11-12). This is particularly interesting, I think, because we typically conceive of angels as being pure and virtuous. However, the speaker presents himself and Annabel as the innocent ones, saying, "I was a child and she was a child," and presents angels as covetous and really rather vicious (line 7). By suggesting that the angels purposely sent a wind from a cloud to chill Annabel, killing her, in order to separate the lovers, whose beautiful love they envied, the speaker paints these angels as rather cruel. They weren't "half so happy in Heaven" as the speaker and Annabel were on earth, and so the speaker claims that the angels sent a "wind [...] out of the cloud by night" to take her away (lines 20, 24). Not only that, but then Annabel's "highborn kinsmen came / And bore her [body] away from" the speaker, in order to bury her (line 17). However, he says, nothing "Can ever dissever [his] soul from the soul / Of the beautiful Annabel Lee" (line 32-33). In other words, despite the angels' best efforts to separate them, the souls of the speaker and Annabel are intertwined and can never be pulled apart, even if their bodies are not together.

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The speaker indicates that Annabel died because the angels were jealous, so they brought her a cold wind from the sea to take her up to Heaven with them.

Annabel Lee most likely died of pneumonia or a similar ailment, but the speaker has a more poetic answer.  He considers Annabel an angel, and the angels in Heaven are jealous of the love that the speaker and Annabel have.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud, chilling
And killing my Annabel Lee.

Poe is said to have written the poem in honor of his wife Virginia, who died of tuberculosis.  Tuberculosis is an infection of the lungs that could very easily thought to be caused by a cold wind.

Virginia’s death hit Poe hard.  He laments for the lost Lenore in “The Raven,” and many of his other works are dark and feature loss.  By describing the angels in Heaven as taking her up with them, he can both capture the beauty of their relationship and soothe his grief with the acceptance that she is in a better place.

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