“It was many and many a year ago”: Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee”

Edgar Allan Poe, circa 1849. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Edgar Allan Poe, circa 1849. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps you, like me, associate Edgar Allan Poe with the city of Baltimore (maybe it’s their professional football team, which I believe I’m contractually obligated to loathe since I grew up in Cleveland even though I am a lifelong Bills fan and no longer watch football).

However, Dear Readers, EAP was a native of fair Boston, much as he hated the city (and now there’s a statue to commemorate him), and thus your Boston-based book blogger is amused to bring you his creepy “Annabel Lee,” just in time for Halloween.

Annabel Lee

by Edgar Allan Poe

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 wingèd 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 kinsmen 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 sepulchre there by the sea—
   In her tomb by the sounding sea.
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9 thoughts on ““It was many and many a year ago”: Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee”

  1. Ah! This is my favorite Poe. It never occurred to me that it was a bit creepy until you said so, maybe because the rest of his work is so much creepier. Or maybe I’ve just grown up.

    • It struck me as pretty when I was young, but now it definitely has a weird vibe to it, I think. Maybe because now I know he married his 13-year-old cousin.

      Unrelated: have you seen the Poe-ka dot socks some company is making? It made me think of you and your knitting because I bet you could make a knitting pattern like that. 🙂

      • I had not seen them but now I have! Those are delightful. I think after the Paris mittens it will be a while before I tackle anything like that, though.

  2. First of all, everyone should be a Buffalo Bills fan, so I’m glad you are one. (Insert shout out to the Buffalo Sabres here.) Second, this is a great and, yes, slightly creepy poem. I love the syllables of the name Annabel Lee.

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