Annabel Lee Essay, Research Paper
Edgar Allen Poe s “Annabel Lee” is a tale of mourning and lost love. Written beautifully and eloquently one can almost forget what the poem is actually saying. “Annabel Lee” is, at best, dark and depressing. But the first time it is read, and the second time, and the third time, for a few people, it is still proclaimed to be “pretty”. But it is not just “pretty”. It is deep, it is morbid, it is scary, it is definitely not just “pretty”.
The first time “Annabel Lee” is read, it is almost carefree and childlike. In the second stanza, it is even written: “She was a child, and I was a child,” (Poe, line7). Is Poe saying that their love was almost childlike in that they thought that no one could ever separate them? Were they na ve and innocent as children always are? Maybe. But we find later on that he calls her his bride, and speaks of a love that certainly seems more then childish.
Poe writes that he and his Annabel Lee shared “a love that was more then just love” (Poe, line 9). Their love was so great, in fact, that the angels in Heaven were jealous of it. Hasn t that been said before to people in mourning? That the person they loved was taken from them because they were too beautiful/kind/loved etc. Poe believes that the reason she died was because the angels were so jealous of them and their love. So to ease their envy, they killed her. Perhaps this was the true reason for her death.
But wait! “the wind came out of the cloud, chilling and killing my Annabel Lee” (Poe, line 25&26). Could it also be inferred then, that Annabel Lee was kill by a simple cold or pneumonia? It was not uncommon in the 19th century to succumb to this fate. So maybe it wasn t a vengeful angel bent on murder just a minor case of the common cold? It has been said in the past that some of what Poe writes in his morbid, gruesome stories is taken from his own tragic life. His own wife dying at a young age from pneumonia, Poe never really seems to recover. It can be observed even in Annabel Lee, traces of himself that Poe leaves behind for an avid reader to sniff out.
“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” (Poe, lines30-33). Now this is starting to seem especially morbid “can ever dissever my soul from the soul of the beautiful Annabel Lee”? Bonded for life, and beyond. Readers began to contemplate how he plans to keep her by his side even though she is dead. In a way though, it is almost romantic. The kind of love every person tries to find in his or her lifetime. But when such love is ended by tragedy such as this, is it not normal to grieve and maybe even go a little bit crazy? Of course, every person needs to grieve, it would be quite unhealthy if one didn t. But Poe says at the beginning of his poem: “It was many and many a year ago ” (Poe, line 1). If it was indeed such a long time ago, why is he still so fixated on his Annabel Lee? It would even be termed as obsessive. True, he loved her deeply, that is never doubted. And it is also true that he lost her, a blow that anyone could crumble under. But there is such a term known as a “mourning period” for a reason. To become so fixated so all that can be seen is her and her eyes, to go lie down by her tomb every night in order to become closer to her goes beyond mourning, especially so long after she has died. If the events in “Annabel Lee” were to happen today, a therapist would definitely be called in.
We can also observe the way in which the poem is written. The beginning of the poem starts off with only 6 lines or so per stanza. They are simple, sing-song almost. And if we look at the content, it is just like any other love poem. Starting stanza three however, the mood shifts abruptly from light and breezy to morbid and dark. Most credit for this is given to the words. But look at the arrangement of the stanza. The number of lines increases, the complexity also increases, and the rhyme scheme changes. It seems as if Poe does it purposely in order to really change reader s moods. It is an almost subconscious shift for the reader and sometimes is not even noticed until the end.
“Annabel Lee” is definitely the classic Poe work, filled with morbid, gruesome meanings, yet written in a beautiful, heart wrenching way. This poem is depressing, dreary, and strange and it is also heartwarming, loving, and poignantly tender as a man in grief reveals his feelings for his one true, dead, love.