Edgar Allan Poe: Annabel Lee

A discourse on lost love – not that of dissipated affection or platonic musings but death – was a much cherished theme of Edgar Allan Poe’s work and such a feature of his life that its dark apparition if not exactly welcome did at least cast the shadow of warm reassurance in its inevitability – the death of a beautiful woman had no parallel in the majesty of her passing.

Written in May 1849, just months before his own death it remains uncertain to whom exactly Annabel Lee refers, perhaps his wife Virginia Clemm who had died young of tuberculosis but there had been many women in Poe’s life whose passing had been deeply mourned.

Regardless, he was determined it should be published and perhaps anticipating his own demise was willing to pay to ensure it was, though it did not transpire necessary to do so.

e a poe annabel lee journal x

But he would never see it in print for it did not appear in Sartain’s Union Magazine for the first time until January 1850, three months after his own mysterious death.

Sharing a similar style and rhythm to his previous The Raven and its theme of ‘nevermore’ it differs in that it holds out the prospect of renewed love and redemption – which maybe in the end is all anyone can hope for.

Annabel Lee

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea:
But we loved with a love that was more than love–
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
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.

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)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we–
Of many far wiser than we–
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:

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling–my darling–my life and my bride,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

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