Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Analysis of "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allan Poe

Original poem reprinted online here:   "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allan Poe
Originally read: Some Time Ago,
More information about the Poet: Edgar Allan Poe



On the very top right corner of my paper analysis, I write down the rhyme scheme and the form of the poem.  Even though Poe himself stated that the poem is in a ballad form, there are drops in rhyme schemes and meter.  But the poem isn't about the exact form -- rather, like the subject, the poem is an exercise in inexactness -- something is not right in this poem.

In the first sestet the rhyme scheme is almost exact and the line that isn't is the difference of "thought" which plays with the memory talked about.  There is a set up as the speaker and the girl "Annabel Lee" in which the speaker places the subject as someone "lived with no other thought / Than to love and be loved by me".  The construction here is a bit weird because the focus is on the subject and then the subject's purpose in relationship to the speaker.  But note how the speaker fills in want.  And how the speaker imagines "their" lives together.

"I was a child and she was a child. / In this kingdom by the sea."  Note that the specific age group and the place.  The next line filled with "love" being in accordance to how a child would want.  But then the poem turns to the divine with "With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven / Coveted her and me"  The divine isn't that far of a stretch as comparisons go, but the lines set up a divine intervention:

     My beautiful Annabel Lee;
     So that her highborn kinsman came
     And bore her away from me,
     To shut her up in a sepulchre
     In this kingdom by the sea

The key is "highborn kinsman"? Who are these people?  It's not who, but what they represent.  Here the speaker is specific with who takes away his love and the separation is through birthright -- literal or metaphorical.  Does this mean that the poem can be looked at a bourgeoisie vs proletariat piece? Sure.  Does this mean that this poem can be looked at the highborn kinsman as "the other?'  Okay.  I don't mean to be flippant, but this is probably the key line which opens up the poem for many interpretation.

And from this, the divine comes back in the form of smite, "The angels, not half so happy in heaven, / Went envying her and me -" and with this vengeful intent, "That the wind came out of the cloud by night, / Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee" note, these are the same "angels" (seraphs) that were happy with them.  What's not explained is the change or the why.  So what's the focus then?  The speaker's emotion towards Annabel Lee and death.

And death doesn't deter the speaker to proclaim his love which:

     And neither the angels in heaven above,
     Nor the demons down under the sea,
     Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
     Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

Note the placements make sense, yet the strong verb of "dissever" brings more of a visceral tone to the piece, but also note the focus on alliteration with that line as thought to reinforce the divine's inability to sever.

And the final lines has grim implication as well as romantic:

     And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
     Of my darling - my darling - my life and my bride,
     In the sepulchre there by the sea
     In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Again the strength of alliteration here as though to confirm the speaker's stance, but also note the shift of power from the beginning.  The speaker perceives the purpose of Annabel Lee was to love him and he to love her -- the speaker put that meaning there.  And in the end, the speaker is trying to find meaning without her there.

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