Annabel Lee what does it mean/sybolism : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

Can someone please tell me what Poe means when he wrote "Annabel Lee." I have no clue what the sybolism means in that poem. For instance the Ocean, Tides, Sea, Moon. And why he repeats Kingdom by the sea so much. THANKS

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000



Poes poem, Annabel Lee was completed sometime around May of 1849 and was first published by the New York Tribune on October 9, 1849, two days after his death. It has been said that Edgar knew that this would be his last poem and that this was the reason he had made several copies and distributed them to his friends. As I understand it, some copies were signed, others were not. Personally, I have serious doubts because this position presumes that Edgar was somehow conscious of his coming demise and known historical facts simply do not support this assertion. In fact, he was scheduled to be married to Sarah Elmira (Royster) Shelton, a childhood sweetheart, on October 17, 1849 and he was feverishly working to get his dream magazine, The Stylus established and off to a good start.

It is my firm position that the context of time relative to the completion and distribution of Annabel Lee is important to understanding just who the poem was intended to represent. May was a short 5 months following the break off of his engagement to Sara Helen Whitman and he was preparing to begin a lecture tour, sometime in July, 1849, I believe. It was also prior to his engagement to Sarah Elmira (Royster) Shelton of Richmond with whom he had become reacquainted while on tour in Richmond. Ironically, many women of the time professed to be the inspiration for the poem. Most scholars, and the one I tend to favor most, Arthur H. Quinn, states that the poem was written in remembrance of his beloved Virginia. I fully agree.

However, much has been made by others of the fact that Virginia had no high born kinsman and the fact that Poe and Virginia were thirteen years apart in their ages and were not children as indicated in the second stanza. These inconsistencies were considered evidence that Poe wrote the poem for someone else. This is utter nonsense and I can hear Edgar laughing to this day!

Edgar Allan Poe was first and foremost a poet. Of all his works, poetry was his greater love, his lifes ambition and his God given genius. Poe felt that prose was for the mind and body and should be written to serve the intellect. But in poetry, Poe believed that poetry should stir the heart and soul and that it serve beauty above all else. He also believed that poetry need not demand truth as a component of creation. That is to say truth as it relates to factual representation. Poe found factual truth to be much to confining and limiting. He further believed that beauty was best served through melancholy. In effect, what could be more elegantly stirring and enduring to man or beast than the loss of a beautiful woman. Few poems do this better than Annabel Lee. In his essay The Philosophy of Composition, an itemized description of how he constructed The Raven, Poe details these views very well. Some scholars believe this essay is a fictional account of Poes creation of The Raven, and perhaps it is, but I believe the references to his poetic principles is factual because he repeated them often.

Actually, it is my view that Annabel Lee is a much less complex poem than many of his others. It is a beautiful poem that simply tells the story of love and devotion so profoundly deep and pure and enduring that even the  angels, not half so happy in heaven, went envying her and me. By the end of the poem we find that his devotion to her is so enduring and so complete, that in his dreams he joins her, soul to soul, for eternity. For me at least, his use of night- tide in the poem suggests the coming of deep sleep when his dreams are filled with memories of Annabel Lee. I would also suggest that the name Annabel Lee was used, primarily, for its musical quality.

Annabel Lee does not lend itself well to deep analysis because the fundamental meaning is so clearly spelled out in its verses. It is one of his few poems that is laid bare almost from beginning to end. Comparatively speaking, I think it is much less complex than The Raven with much less symbolism or allegory. Annabel Lee has much of the music quality somewhat lacking in The Raven.


-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

I think Annabel Lee is a boat.

-- Anonymous, October 29, 2000

Annabel Lee is a very well written poem but instead of what jetis said I think he mourned the death of his love so much that he saw no other way out but to commit suicide. Thanks

-- Anonymous, November 06, 2000

I love this poem and the song more and more... its one of the best I ever read and listen :)) see ya..

-- Anonymous, November 17, 2001

Poes is so depressed by the lost annabel Lee that he lies in her coffin with her and falls asleep every night

Poe is an awesome writing

quothing the raven


-- Anonymous, October 29, 2002

suck my fuckin dick

-- Anonymous, December 05, 2002

i believe there is strong allegory in this poem for love causing suicide. writers have always liked to play with the notion of a love so strong that one cannot go on living without the other. soul mates, if you will. (eg romeo and juliet)

the loss of someone we love makes us angry. we blame god, our "cursed" maker. '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)'

all men know they blame god with a loss they can't explain. it is precisely this attribution of loss to global causes that makes one prone to depression. happy people don't kill themselves. (i assume.)

the concluding lines: "and so, all the night-tide, i lie down by the side/ of my darling--my darling--my life and my bride,/ in her sepulchre there by the sea--/ in her tomb by the sounding sea."

eliminating superfluous description we have: "all night-tide (eternity?) i lie down by the side of my (DEAD) darling--my (DEAD?) life... in her tomb."

this "love poem" appears to be the suicide note of a heart broken "husband" who must join his love in her tomb for eternity.

taking into account that this was (arguably) poe's last poem, i think this poem is more of a "suicide note" to the world of poetry. the fact that poe distrubted many copies to his friends makes me believe that he knew he wasn't going to write poetry anymore and he wanted his friends (and the world) to be aware of his intention of departure. (does a suicide note play any different role?)

-- Anonymous, December 14, 2002

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