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Edgar Allan Poe's Use of Figurative Language in His Poem "Annabell Lee."

Updated on April 20, 2020
Edgar Allan Poe was the author of the tragic poem, 'Annabel Lee.'
Edgar Allan Poe was the author of the tragic poem, 'Annabel Lee.' | Source

Who wrote 'Annabel Lee'?

From the very onset of the poem, Edgar Allan Poe sets up ‘Annabel Lee’ as yet another one of his dark imaginative rides to a distant land. Poe’s simple sentences immediately pull the reader into the sorrow over his lost love, Annabel Lee. He uses a bittersweet and somber tone to give his readers a strong emotional understanding of his own mind. Poe’s unforeseen message throughout the poem is that love itself is a never-ending tragedy, and those who partake of love's sweet nectar will always be at a loss. Love does not transcend beyond this realm. The only relics that a person can hold onto are the memories of their former escapades with their love. Life does not offer any more time beyond that which fate has given us.

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;

— Edgar Allen Poe

What was Edgar Allen Poe's last poem?

“Annabel Lee”, became Poe’s last written poem. It was “published […] October 9, 1849, in the New York Tribune, two days after the author’s death” (Poetry 21). The true nature of his muse, or the inspiration, is unknown, but according to the popular belief, and, Jeannie Johnson Ph.D., “What inspired Poe to compose Annabel Lee was not his affection for any one person but […] Virginia […] his wife” (Poetry 21), leading us to believe that this is also why he described his characters as been in the flower of their youth, careless and jubilant with their affection toward one another “[s]he was a child and I was a child” (line 7).

What is the meter and rhyme structure of 'Annabel Lee'?

“The meter and rhyme play a major part in the way the poem is deciphered. The rhythm scheme of the poem is very fast and musical. Poe tended to use words as music in his poetry; this brings out his whimsical and melancholy tone of this poem. He repeats his dead lover’s name which shows his deep love for her”. (Willhite) In addition, the repeated use of her name aids in his method of rhyme and meter in his poem. Though poetry typically upholds beauty, Poe’s poetry has the ability to destroy and twist the concept of beauty into mere illusions, which aids in the understanding of a mere simple fact, that we as humans can never achieve what we want the most. That is to say that humans ache for beauty, and the oral and written tradition of poetry is to express the emotions, feelings, observations, and desires of the poet in the most beautiful way possible. However, I argue that although Poe’s poetry holds a poetic meter, it shows the frailty in what humans believe to be beautiful.

Figurative Language in 'Annabel Lee'

Poe uses several instances of figurative language to support his message in ‘Annabel Lee’. “With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven coveted her and me” (lines 8 and 9). The angels do not see any restoration of the love even in heaven; they doubt that he will reunite in heaven with his love, Annabel Lee. The concept that love transcends this world into the next is a void. He also shows his powerful mastery of figurative language when he claims the influence of the wind has killed his loved Annabel Lee. Poe then shows his mastery of the pen later by personifying the wind, “Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee” (line 20), and the stars as he says they remind him of his former lover’s eyes. Some say his use of excessive words is immature, but it helps express his thoughts.

Finally, after all of Poe’s uses of literary terms and his use of rhyme and meter to show his undying love for Annabel Lee, the reader of the poem learns that his love for this girl is deep and tragic. As humans, we have but a few moments glance to show all of our affection toward one another, and Poe’s greatest point comes across to us as a cruel joke. At the end of our pain, our suffering, and our anguish, that it is all in vain for there is no redemption and no sign of hope.


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    • Alissaann26 profile image


      6 years ago

      This was very well written and interesting. Poe happens to be my favorite poet. I love how descriptive your hub is and how you included many details of this poem; such as the tone and rhythm scheme. It gave me a new appreciation as well as a new view on this poem. :)

    • D.Juris Stetser profile image

      D.Juris Stetser 

      8 years ago from South Dakota

      This is a really great Hub. I've always been fascinated with the 'melancholy' Poe, but never actually attempted an in-depth analysis of any of his work. You've been very thorough, and presented so much valuable insight into his style and state of mind while writing Annabel Lee we gain a new appreciation of the poem. Thank you so much. Voting up, awesome ,and interesting.


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