Appraisal of “Annabel Lee”

I do not consider myself a romantic man by nature, and perhaps, that is the reason why Edgar A. Poe’s latest poem, Annabel Lee, is a mystery to me. The poem describes a young couple deeply in love with each other, a love that is so great that even the angels in Heaven covet it.

As a God-fearing man, I must stop here to note my discomfort with these types of nonsensical notions about God and Heaven. And, almost as if Poe knows he is being censured for his blasphemy, he concludes the poem with a chill that comes up from the sea to claim his Annabel Lee. Meanwhile, the young man proclaims his love for Annabel Lee, unaltered for all time.

Now, I realize that Mr. Poe recently lost his beloved wife, Virginia Clemm Poe, to The Consumption, and my thoughts and prayers are with him. However, his maudlin ramblings about “a love that was more than love” and “winged seraphs of Heaven” who coveted them makes no sense to me. For instance, I find myself wanting to ask Mr. Poe, “What is the name of the emotion that you call greater than love?”

But, as I said, I do not consider myself an overly romantic man. I’m a rational, temperate, God-fearing man – all the qualities that Mr. Poe seems to be losing to his over-indulgence in drink.

Still, all of this makes me wonder: Has Mr. Poe become unhinged by grief? Or, is he a man who has come unhinged due to drink?

Either way, it is clear to me that Mr. Poe is a man come unhinged.

By E.O. Cuthbert

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