Annabel Lee

One night last week, at a poetry workshop, I wrote something that isn’t ready to post. Cowards get a bad rap but sometimes we spare others as well as ourselves. Instead, for this final day of National Poetry Month, I’ll post a posthumous poem. It’s the last one ever written by Edgar Allan Poe.

Annabel Lee was first published on October 9, 1849 as part of Poe’s obituary in the New York Daily Tribune. It’s accompanied here by a copy in the poet’s own handwriting. He knew he was dying and didn’t want Annabel Lee to die with him so he took the unusual step of making copies of the poem and distributing them in the knowledge that one of the recipients would publish it. This copy eventually wound up in the hands of Mrs. Alexander McMillen Welch, who bequeathed it to Columbia University.

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.

She was a child and I 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 Annabel Lee;
So that her high-born 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, 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 side of the sea.

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