interpretation of Annabel Lee : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

I was wondering if there were anyh interpretations of the poem "Annabel Lee" written by Edgar Allan Poe. I can't seem to understand what he is trying to say during the poem or why he wrote the poem. It might be similar to "The Raven" in the aspect that they are both dealing with the women in his life. If there are any interpretations out there, please let me know.

-- Anonymous, October 15, 2003


Article sources at Poe Studies perhaps, your local library article subscriptions online(a free service but you need to ask the librarian for help and the password)for such thinga as the Gale Group. Books from bibliogrpahies at or links to articles at other sites.

Annabel Lee is the last Poe poem and more rebellious than the despairing pose of The Raven(when Virginia Poe was still alive but becoming ill). In both poems the central element is the mind of the narrator- not the object of his love or memory. Long long and fruitless obsession is the core of soft horror in both peoms.

"Many and many a year ago" Fast forward to "all the night tide I lay down by the side" and you immediately see why the creeping feeling that all is not completely sentimental and loving in this "love poem". In fact Annabel is not even described nor speaks. Her only relevance is being a child too, completely bonded by their exclusive love which is all she lived for and reciprocated in romantic rebellion by her srviving lover. The sea, the night, the sounds, the arguments against heaven all show the same careful crafting(spare and stark)of story, environment, symbols, imagery and sounds.

As for the women in his life, remember it is the sentiment sparked within Poe to create a work of art, a fiction as much as any story, more than an address to an actual woman, or a description of her or her life. Still, the progression from his fears and hopes(The Raven) concerning Virginia to the utter rebellion against the actual loss(Annabel Lee) underlies the depth of these portrayed emotions- as artful or contrived as they became in the poetic process. However Poe was asked to write Annabel Lee by one woman and then proceeded to use it in flattering others. Hints of Sarah Whitman seem credible and they did exchange personal poems("To Helen" the second poem).

-- Anonymous, October 16, 2003

I found "Annabel Lee" to be one of his less complex poems. Without looking at any other works, or his life - the poem quite simply is about love between the two realms of life and death. Poe starts the poem "in a kingdom by the sea," very much like saying "once upon a time." We are taken to a fairy tale land in which has the narrator who was a child and met Annabel Lee as children. Not just a child, but a MAIDEN - a word that is used to describe beautiful women. They fell in love, but the words used signify something deeper, perhaps soul mates? She lived solely to love the narrator and to be loved in return by him. Angels, "the winged seraphs," became jealous of the two. This is interesting because angels almost never represent envy. Continuing on... a cloud comes and chills Annabel Lee to death. Her highborn-kinsmen are the upper class family come to separate the narrator from Annabel Lee's physical body, put her in a tomb. Lines 21-26, say that the angels, jealous in heaven, as everyone knows, sent the death cloud out to chill Annabel Lee to death. The narrator says they loved stronger than most, than those older and wiser (think of a child's love, simple and pure - they love unconditionally without judgement... Poe could be using this as the kind of love the two shared). His soul and hers are still intwined, even after her death : "And neither the angels in heaven above, / Nor the demons down under the sea, / Can ever disever my soul from the soul / Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE." (30-34). The final stanza is about how the narrator REFUSES and CAN'T let go of her. He cannot sleep peacefully - he sees her in his dreams. He can't look to the sky, he sees her face in the stars. And so he goes to her tomb, and lies by her side.

As far as your "Raven" reference, it is slightly similar. The man in that poem was reading to avoid sleeping to avoid dreaming of Lenore. Grievance is definately a theme carried through both poems, but it is handled differently. For starters, "Annabel Lee" is about a man trying to not forget her - he cannot continue to live without her. "The Raven" is about a man trying to avoid grieving, avoid facing the reality of her death.

-- Anonymous, October 20, 2003

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