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The Sea

Symbol Analysis

If we were going to have a contest for biggest, fattest symbol in this whole poem, we'd probably bet on the sea. It comes up again and again in the poem, and it's the image that ties everything together. We think of the ocean in this poem as being huge and lonely and cold. It's a nice reflection of the emptiness and desolation that the speaker feels now that he has lost Annabel.

  • Line 2: This is the first time we hear about the sea, and it's part of that "kingdom by the sea" refrain. If the kingdom becomes a symbol of the power of people, then the sea is all about the power of nature. It's kind of neat how Poe can tie humans and the natural world together in one phrase like that.
  • Line 31: Poe switches it up a little here, and mentions the sea for the first time without mentioning the kingdom too. In this line the sea is filled with demons that want to tear him and Annabel apart. You can see how this makes the image of the sea more intense. Before we just knew that it was by the kingdom, but now we can imagine it full of demons. We can almost see them slithering along under the water. If we imagine hell or any place where demons live, we usually imagine it being underground. In this poem, though, the evil things live under the sea. This makes the idea of the sea a dark and scary thing in "Annabel Lee."
  • Line 40: Annabel's tomb is apparently right beside the water too. See how the sea pulls everything together in this poem? We can almost imagine the water lapping up against it. Like we said, we're pretty convinced that this is a creepy, evil, deadly ocean we're dealing with here. Also, notice the way Poe repeats the s sound and the beginning of "sepulchre" and "sea." That alliteration gives the end of the poem a sort of hissing, evil sound, and is also another way that Poe builds its rhythm.
  • Line 41: It's important that "sea" is the last word in this poem. It rounds the whole thing out, and leaves us with the familiar haunting image of the open lonely ocean. The phrase "sounding sea" is cool too. There's that alliteration again, but there's also the fact that it's kind of tough to figure out what it means. The word "sounding" gives us an open, echoey feeling that fits with the mood at the end of the poem, but it's also a bit mysterious.

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