Loss As Expressed in Edgar Allen Poe’s Annabel Lee
The death of Edgar Allen Poe’s young bride prompted a wealth of bitter resentment in the writer. While this is evidenced in many of his works, nowhere is his antipathy more explicit than in the poem, “Annabel Lee”.
It is apparent from reading lines such as “the winds came out of a cloud, chilling My beautiful Annabel Lee” that Poe feels that he is somehow cursed and that the heavens stole his joy because the angels’ own discontent caused them to delight in destroying the happiness of others. This is further confirmed, and perhaps most overtly so, by the line, “The Angels, half so happy in Heaven, Went envying her and me”.
For Poe, reality and fantasy seem to be intrinsically entwined (Postema, 1991). He seems to view the scenario of jealous angels stealing his love away as incontrovertible fact, rather than simply a manifestation of his rage, which it so obviously is. When he writes, “For the moon never beams without giving me dreams Of the beautiful Annabel Lee”, he seems to be aware of the distinction between fantasy and reality, however this is his only lucid moment.
In addition to its alluring content, the language of the poem also serves to immerse the reader into Poe's fantasy-like realm of the transcendent love he shared with his child bride. Throughout the poem, Poe writes primarily with “a combination of iambic and anapestic feet, alternating between tetrameter and trimeter”. (Carlson, 1987)
The word "chilling," in both places it is used, lines fifteen and twenty-five, retains a jarring meter. This, along with the capitalization of ANNABEL LEE, is done most probably to ensure that the death of Poe's loved one disturbs the rhythm of the poem and startles the reader.
These tactics particularly stand out against the backdrop of repetitiveness that permeates the poem. For example, end rhymes in the poem alternate lines with very few variations, implementing frequently repeated, and alarmingly simplistic rhyming words such as: "Lee," "sea," "me," and "we."
Furthermore, Poe's two breaks in the alternating rhyme scheme signify two important emotions typical of this late stage of his life. The first couplet ("older than we" "far wiser than we") is bitterly mocking in tone, showing undeniable resentment towards “his distinguished foes and oppressors” (Regan, 1967), or the angels in heaven.
In the final stanza...