Today in Literary History – Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee”

Edgar Allan Poe’s final poem “Annabel Lee” was first published on October 9, 1849, two days after Poe’s death at the age of forty.

It was published in The New York Daily Tribune as part of an obituary by Poe’s literary executor Rufus Griswold. Poe’s death still remains a mystery, but it seems most likely to have been a result of his alcoholism.

The poem tells the story of the narrator’s love for Annabel Lee, which began when they were children “in a kingdom by the sea.” Annabel later dies and the final stanza of the poem is:

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.

Vladimir Nabokov nods at “Annabel Lee” in his novel Lolita, where Humbert Humbert recalls his childhood love for the terminally ill Annabel Leigh “in a princedom by the sea.”

Here is a reading of the poem by Stephanie Swan Quills.

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