Editor's Choice

In "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allan Poe, what two references does the narrator make to Heaven?

Quick answer:

Poe's description of heaven, and its inhabitants, is a negative one. The angels are portrayed as petty and mean-spirited. They are jealous of the love between the speaker and Annabel and so kill her. The reference to demons (under the sea) also portrays heaven as being opposed to earthly love. Even in death, their love can't be destroyed; although Annabel has been buried in a tomb beside the ocean her body has disappeared but the speaker still loves her.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The two references to heaven are this stanza:

But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my Annabel Lee
With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
Coveted her and me.

and this:

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 by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

In both these references, Poe paints a rather judgmental and negative image of heaven and its denizens. Angels are typically presented as just, compassionate, and kind, but here, they are jealous of the pure love between the speaker and Annabel. In fact, their jealousy is fatal—the speaker believes they have literally killed Annabel out of spite for their love.

By painting their love as opposed by heaven, Poe lends this ill-fated love a tragic bent. The speaker and Annabel could be seen as star-cross'd lovers in how a greater power opposes their being together on earth. His presentation of heaven could also be viewed as subversive, perhaps glorifying earthly love above anything in heaven itself.

However, even heaven cannot kill their love. The speaker is devoted to Annabel, sleeping beside her tomb and still loving her even after her body is no more. He opposes not only the angels is heaven, but "the demons under the sea" and Annabel's kinsmen, who entombed her body beside the ocean.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Two references are made to Heaven in the poem "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allan Poe. The first comes in the second stanza:

"But we loved with a love that was more than love--

I and my Annabel Lee--

With a love that the winged seraphs of Heaven

Coveted her and me." (ll. 9-12)

In this stanza, the narrator tells us that the love between them is so great that even the angels in Heaven are jealous of them and of the love they have for one another.

Again, in the fourth stanza, Poe repeats this sentiment, telling us that because of their envy, the angels in Heaven send a "cold wind" to kill Annabel Lee. Even with her death, though, the love between Annabel and the narrator is so great that it does not end. He can still see her "bright eyes," possibly a metaphor for her soul and the hope of another meeting in the afterlife.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial