Annabel Lee: The Last of Poe’s Genius
Edgar Allan Poe died on October 7, 1849 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Bily) Before that date he wrote many excellent poems, including “Annabel Lee.” Although “Annabel Lee” is considered “the demented reflection of a madman" (Bily), it conveyed his everlasting devotion and compassion for his Annabel Lee. “Annabel Lee” uses repetition, ballad form and even his insanity to emphasize his love for his dead companion.
Repetition or “haunting rhythm” (Bily) played a large role in “Annabel Lee.” The repetition engraves the events of the poem in the readers mind. “Within individual lines […] such as ‘But we loved with a love that was more than lovers,’ are almost numbing; the reader is not expected to pause […] and analyze its logical sense, but simply to experience the "love" after "love'' and derive the sensation that way.” (Bily) This numbing effect is only a portion of Poe’s ingenious poem, which is “a characteristic of ballads that Coleridge […] considered an integral part of the ballad’s approach.” (Bloom) “Using repetition to suggest the circularity and insufficiency […], Poe posits a love so pure that the word ‘love’ cannot encompass it.” (Bloom) Also according to Bloom, “Repetition […] emphasizes the lover’s despairing sense of his ‘left-behindness,’ his inability to go beyond.” Burton Pollin refers to “Annabel Lee” as “Poe’s simple ballad and probably his most universally popular poem.” (133) Ballads are generally romantic and meaningful. Poe’s use of ballad form poetry creates a sense of passion and commitment for his Annabel Lee. Poe’s standard ballad form is written with a rhyme scheme of abab; the first and third lines have four metric feet, and the second and fourth lines have three feet. (Bily) He uses "waive-like cadence'' (Bily) and ''all the shorter lines in the poem end with the same e sound" (Bily). "Instead of adhering to his standard ballad stanza form, the poet [Poe] tacks on two more lines" (Bily). The...
Bibliography: Bily, Cynthia A. “Annabel Lee Essay” Masterplots II: Poetry, Revised Edition. Salem Press, Inc. 2002
Bloom, Harold “Thematic Analysis of ‘Annabel Lee’” Bloom’s Major Poets:Edgar Allan Poe Harold Bloom. Infobase Publishing, 1999. 73-76.
Pollin, Burton R. “Traces in ‘Annabel Lee’ of Allan Cunningham’s Poem” American Notes & Queries May/June 1984: 133-135
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