"Annabel Lee" is a poem by the American writer Edgar Allan Poe. It was one of the last poems to be written by Poe, probably being written in May 1849, some five months before the author's death on October 7 of that year. The poem first appeared in print in the October 9, 1849 edition of the New York Daily Tribune as part of the newspaper's obituary of Poe. However, the first authorized publication of "Annabel Lee" was in the January 1850 edition of Sartain's Union Magazine of Literature and Art.
The poem's narrator describes how, many years earlier when he was very young, he was deeply in love with a woman named Annabel Lee, who was just as young as he was and who loved him just as much in return. The sudden death of Annabel Lee comes as a terrible emotional blow to the narrator, from which he never recovers. Although many years have passed, he continues to dream about Annabel Lee every night and believes that death has not been completely successful in separating them.
It is widely believed that the poem was inspired by the death of Poe's wife, Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe, in 1847. However, other "lost loves" of Poe, not all of whom were dead at the time at which the poem was composed, have also been put forward as possible models for the character of Annabel Lee.
The poem has been set to music several times by different songwriters and performed by musicians including Stevie Nicks and Joan Baez.
The events of the poem take place in an unnamed "kingdom by the sea". The poem's narrator explains that long ago, when he was very young, a young woman named Annabel Lee lived there. In spite of their youth, or perhaps because of it, the narrator and Annabel Lee were deeply in love with each other, having "a love that was more than love". The narrator believes that even the angels in Heaven were jealous of the love that he and Annabel Lee had.
According to the narrator, it was precisely because the angels were jealous of he and Annabel Lee's love that they sent a cold wind one night. The wind caused Annabel Lee to catch a chill from which she ultimately died. The narrator feels a terrible grief. Not only does he mourn the death of Annabel Lee, he also feels that her family have further separated her from him, by taking her body away and shutting it up inside a tomb by the sea.
Nevertheless, the narrator feels that the love which he and Annabel Lee shared was so strong that people, angels and demons are not capable of completely separating them. He states that, although very many years have passed since Annabel Lee died, there is not a night that goes by on which he does not think about her and dream about her. The poem ends with the revelation that the narrator sleeps inside the tomb of Annabel Lee each night.
- Sound file of a public domain recitation of Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee"
- "The Bells"
- "The City in the Sea"
- "The Conqueror Worm"
- "The Haunted Palace"
- "The Raven"