In a Kingdom by the Sea
There is nothing quite like a first love. The emotions are fresh and feel stronger and stranger than anything before; it is almost magical. For most, the feelings of a first love can seem quite difficult to capture in words but Edgar Allan Poe proves himself able in his poem "Annabel Lee". The poem, considered a ballad by most, honors the memory of Poe's deceased wife, Virginia, who died two years prior to him writing the poem. While the death of a beautiful woman is a common theme in Poe's writing, “Annabel Lee” presents a deeper theme of eternal love through the use of imagery and a unique use of the many elements of poetry.
By using imagery, Poe allows what the speaker feels to be known and even felt by the reader. His use of imagery to portray the setting is critical to this particular literary piece, in that it is through setting that one gains a significantly better realization of his anguish. [For example in this quote]:
“A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
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" (lines 16-21)
"In a kingdom by the sea" expresses both a mystical, magical place where their love lasts forever, as well as the brutally, depressing home of the deceased lover's tomb.
In this stanza Poe illustrates a strong, dark force stealing Annabel away from him and brutally "shutting" her up in a tomb.
Throughout the poem, Poe's use of personal imagery (the diction used to embody one’s feelings), demonstrates the depth of his feelings- happy and sad. He uses emotional and penetrating words to reveal a vivid image of the speaker's pain as well as the joy he once felt from his true love. In lines 10-12, the speaker refers to Annabel as a maiden, producing the image of a princess, in keeping with the fairytale theme of the poem, and demonstrating how deeply he cares for her. After her death he blames the angels in heaven for taking her for themselves, as the speaker reveals in this stanza :
“The Angels, half so happy in Heaven, Went envying her and me”.
Yes!- that was the reason…
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee."
The speaker holds such anger and resentment towards creatures as pure as angels for taking away his love. Poe’s vivid words reveal the speaker’s immense feelings of anger and grief, causing the reader to empathize with his pain. Poe hit the mark with this poem using intense diction on both sides of the emotional spectrum to evoke deep feelings of both joy and distress from the reader.
In this poem Poe also excels at combining the elements of poetry to mimic the storyline. The poem appears like an ocean shore; the lines of the poem, emulating the back and forth motion of waves, are long, then shorten, lengthen, then shorten again, this in keeping with the mythical kingdom theme. The predominant rhythm that the poem uses is the...