What types of figurative language does Edgar Allan Poe use in "Annabel Lee"?

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In "Annabel Lee," Edgar Allan Poe employs various forms of figurative language. He uses repetition, such as repeating "many" in line 1 and "loved" in line 6. Sound devices like end rhyme and internal rhyme are evident, along with assonance and alliteration. Imagery is achieved through hyperbole, depicting the depth of love between the characters. Additionally, the poem has a fairytale-like mood and a haunting, rhythmic sound. He also uses epanalepsis, a type of repetition.

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In Poe's "Annabel Lee," the author uses a great deal of figurative language. Figurative language is often used in poetry. Figurative language, by definition, is not to be taken literally.

There are a great many examples of literary devices. For example, note the use of repetition below, a device used many times in Poe's poem:

She was a child and I was a child... (7)

Literary devices dealing with sound are easily recognized when the poem is read aloud. Refer to the stanza below:

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me. (1-6)

End rhyme is apparent in lines 2, 4 and 6 with the words "sea," "Lee" and "me." Internal rhyme is found in the sixth stanza; note the use of "beams" in the middle of the line that rhymes with "dreams" at the line's end:

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams...

It occurs two lines later (using "rise" and "eyes") with:

And the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes

Assonance is found in line 5 with the words "this," "lived" and "with." (The short "i" sound is the same.) Alliteration (the repetition of a consonant sound at the beginning of a group of words) is found with the repetition of the words "many" (in line 1) and "loved" (in line 6).

In identifying figurative language, the reader first recognizes the use of imagery, used to create a picture in the reader's mind. Imagery is found, for example, in hyperbole.

Hyperbole is present in lines 11 and 12:

With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

It can only be an exaggeration of the depth of their love to note that the angels covet it, for there is no way to know this for certain; however, the speaker is using hyperbole to show how deep and wonderful is the love the two share.

The reader sees it again in the lines:

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me—

The lines above almost seem paradoxical in their exaggeration. It is impossible, based upon our definitions/perceptions of angels, to believe that angels would envy anything on earth when compared to their heavenly existence. This is more evident in trying to conceptualize that the angels would envy the love of humans—especially to the point that they would send a chilling wind to kill the young woman—an evil act.

First used in the late 16th Century, "Once upon a time" has become a phrase generally associated with a fairytale. Often this kind of story has mystical or magical elements (magic beans, a fairy godmother, etc.). After using this introductory phrase, Poe continues establishing this mood with words such as "kingdom" and "maiden," which are also associated with these kinds of tales. Poe may well use this introduction to create a mood of something supernatural, i.e., something beyond our natural world. However, unlike most fairytales shared with youngsters before bedtime, this story goes beyond magical and becomes haunting, with its sad ending at the loss of Annabel Lee. 

If “Annabel Lee” has become one of Poe’s most popular poems, its popularity is probably attributable to its haunting rhythm, its lulling repetition. 

The lilting movement of the poem is yet another element of the poem that gives the reader the sense of being in a fairytale. Except for the tragedy of the speaker's loss, this might well serve as a bedtime story that would bring about easy sleep for the listener, as Poe creates a haunting story, very much like a melody, using sound and imagery to capture the reader's imagination.

The sound of the poem, then, is quiet, rhythmic, hypnotic. It is this haunting sound, not the story itself, that causes most readers to remember “Annabel Lee.”

Of the sounds and images employed, perhaps the use of hyperbole is figurative language that most easily convinces the reader that poetic license has been used in this poem. The presence of envious angels and chilling winds that can be directed by one's will allow the reader to grasp that some elements of the tale may be magical or like a fairytale—perhaps more so, giving us the feeling that the love between the speaker and Annabel Lee was so amazing that the earth could not contain it, the angels could not bear it and no one on earth (even those "older than we" or "far wiser than we") could ever hope to experience anything like it.

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The most important form of figurative language used in "Annabel Lee" is a kind of repetition that is called epanalepsis--the repetition of a word or phrase at regular intervals.

The first stanza alone contains three examples of this device:

a) It was many and many a year ago;

b) That a maiden there lived who you may know

By the name of Annabel Lee;

And this maiden she lived...

c) she lived with no other thought

Than to love and be loved by me.

In the second stanza, Poe repeats the words child and love (3 times).

In the third stanza, Poe begins to repeat phrases that he had used in the second stanza: "this kingdom by the sea," and "my Annabel Lee" are both "borrowed" from Stanza 2.

These repetitions (and others like it throughout the poem) give the poem its song-like, almost childish quality.

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

This is one of my favorite poems of all time, and part of that is because of the literary techniques Poe weaves into each line, focusing the reader's attention on both the depth of his love for Annabel Lee and on the tone of despair he generates.

Look at the repetition within this line:

But we loved with a love that was more than love

(Bold added for emphasis.)

The depth of the speaker's feelings are made clear with this quick, repetitive use of the word "love." It was more than love, deeper than any emotion he has ever experienced.

I also love the alliteration in this poem, particularly lines like this one:

To shut her up in a sepulchre

Poe intentionally crafts this line to repeat this hissing s sound, effectively silencing the reader's mind. It's easy to feel that the speaker is shushing the world, demanding silence for the memory of Annabel Lee.

The alliteration is also well-crafted in this line:

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,

The alliteration in this line brings attention to the fact that Heaven itself cannot offer the happiness that he and Annabel Lee shared. Their love was beyond even the glories of supernatural emotions.

The internal rhyme in the lines, particularly as the poem reaches its conclusion, particularly serve to demonstrate all that the speaker has lost through Annabel Lee's death:

Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

This particular pairing is cold and final, reminding the reader that Annabel Lee has left the speaker forever.

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams

Moonlight is often used as a spiritual symbol, and that is reflected in this line. The internal rhyme here reinforces the presence of Annabel Lee in the speaker's dreams; their spiritual connection is not broken in death.

The end of the poem fades out with shorter lines and that repetition of the s sound again, seeming to follow the speaker's despair as he closes with a whisper.

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

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—

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

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," 

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

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. 
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What literary elements are used in Edgar Allan Poe's poem "Annabel Lee"?

The first major literary element used in Poe's poem "Annabel Lee" is genre. The poem is written in the form that uses many of the conventions of the traditional ballad, including simple language, narrative content, frequent repetition, and a setting in a distant, romanticized past, removed from everyday life, as we see in the opening:

It was many and many a year ago,  

In a kingdom by the sea ...

The next major literary element found in the poem is stanzaic form. The poem is divided into six stanzas, ranging from six to eight lines in length. Rather than have a completely regular pattern of rhyme, Poe repeats a small group of rhyming words at the ends of three or four lines in each stanza. These words are: Lee, we, sea, and me. The meter of the poem is a mixture of iambs and anapests. 

The next major literary element is a combination  of hyperbole and metaphor, in which religious imagery is evoked by the use of images of seraphs, angels, demons, and Heaven in the description of their relationship.

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