Edgar Allen Poe’s “Annabel Lee”

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In commemoration of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe who was born January 19, 1809 and enjoyed success throughout his life as a romantic poet, a master of macabre tales, the originator of the modern detective story, and an acute literary critic, editor, and journalist, we reprint one of his most famous and haunting poems — Annabel Lee. One of Poe’s other masterpieces, “The Raven” can be found in EA 10/31/07.

The theme of a morbid dread of loss of an idealized female love object is evident throughout Poe’s body of work, a theme attributable to the poet’s grief over the early loss of his mother.

In the months before his own death Poe had penned “Annabel Lee” which was published in the Richmond Examiner, the New York Tribune, and the Southern Literary Messenger, November, 1849, appearing along with his own obituary notice.

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I see 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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~ by eaesthete on 01/20/08.

6 Responses to “Edgar Allen Poe’s “Annabel Lee””

  1. The poems last line is WRONG.

    its sounding sea smarty pants.
     
     
    Leslie,

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I, in turn, contacted the Library of Congress which I used as the source to question the discrepancy for this was copied exactly as it appears below, although as you correctly point out, the final line of the original poem does, in fact, read ” In her tomb by the sounding sea.”:
     
    For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
    And the stars never rise but I see 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.
     
    Edgar Allan Poe,
    “Annabel Lee,”
    Southern Literary Messenger,
    November 1849, p. 697

    Link: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/jan19.html

    Thank you for your diligence in correcting this. I’ll post any response I may receive from the Library of Congress.

    Respectfully,
    the errant aesthete (aka “smarty pants”)
      
     
     
    UPDATE4/23/08: We did hear back from the quality team of researchers at the Library of Congress and learned the following:

    Poe revised his poem “Annabel Lee” several times before he died, and one of the revisions he made was to the line of the poem you mention. The earliest version of the poem, and all subsequent versions except one, include the line “In her tomb by the sounding sea.” The one exception was a manuscript of the poem that Poe gave to John R. Thompson, the editor of the “Southern Literary Messenger,” on September 29, 1849, which replaced the above line with “In her tomb by the side of the sea.”

    Most scholars regard the original line, “In her tomb by the sounding sea,” to be superior to the other version, which is one of the reasons most versions of the poem you read today include the original line. The “Southern Literary Messenger,” however, naturally based the text of “Annabel Lee” that appeared in its November 1849 obituary on the version of the poem that Poe gave to its editor, John Thompson. This explains why the phrase “side of the sea” appears in this reprint of the poem.

    Thomas Mabbott, who edited what is widely regarded as the authoritative edition of Poe’s poetry (see the catalog record for the work at ), explains why Poe may have changed this line when he writes:

    “It is generally agreed that Poe’s final phrasing ‘side of the sea’ is inferior to the earlier ‘sounding sea’ in this line. The reason for the change was probably to obtain greater metrical regularity” (p. 481).

    Since the Thompson manuscript, with the phrase “side of the sea,” was the last known manuscript version of the poem Poe is known to have written, textual scholars can claim that this constitutes the “authoritative” version of Poe’s poem, since it reflects his final intent. This hasn’t stopped the earlier versions, and more specifically, the earliest manuscript version which Poe gave to R. W. Griswold in late May or June 1849, from being the text most widely known to today’s readers.

    You can find a bibliography of variant texts of “Annabel Lee,” along with links to the full-text of several of the major versions, online through the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore website at:
    http://www.eapoe.org/

    Again, Leslie, thank you for your inquiry and what proved to be a fascinating discovery.

    The Errant Aesthete

  2. Fascinating! I’m no student of Poe, but for me, this is like discovering some great ruin or fossil. A lovely tidbit of history that would not have been brought to our collective light without the preceding discussion. I love smart people!

  3. I personally really love this poem and really admire the passion that Edgar Allen Poe had for his young wife/cousin.

    I probably sound either really old or like some geeky poetry lovin’ nerd but i’m not, i’m a friggin’ 13 year old middle schooler!!!

    JK
    I <3 U SMARTY PANTS

  4. I love this poem it is so…it just manages to get to my heart and I simply love it.

  5. This poem is beautiful. My mother used to read it to me and it’s very special. I hope I can win my poetry reading contest with it. Wish me luck everyone, please

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