Study Guide

Annabel Lee Love

By Edgar Allan Poe

Love

And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me. (lines 5-6)

Love is the only thing that counts for the speaker. He really fell for Annabel Lee. Even when she was alive, loving her was the only thing that mattered to him. He says she felt the same way, but of course we don't get to hear her side of the story. Actually, women don't ever talk very much in Poe's poems and stories, they just hang out and look beautiful and spooky. It would be sort of sad if it turned out that she wasn't that into him after all.

But we loved with a love that was more than love-- (line 9)

Check out the way that Poe keeps raising the stakes here. The speaker already told us that they only cared about loving each other. Now it turns out that their love was more than love. To make sure you get the point he uses the word love three times in a single line. We're not sure what loving more than love would be like. Sounds kind of like multiplying infinity by infinity.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we-- (line 27-28)

This moment could be a stirring cry of deep love. Maybe the speaker is saying that no one, even the people who were supposed to know better, could ever love like he loved Annabel Lee. You could also read it as a kind of competition. Maybe he means that the love Annabel's parents felt for her wasn't as strong as the love he felt. That seems cruel, since they lost their daughter. In fact, this whole thing could also be a temper tantrum on the part of the speaker. Imagine our speaker yelling at his folks about how they don't understand him and then stomping off to his room. We're not trying to be critical of the speaker; we just want to give you a different angle on the poem.

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee: (lines 32-33)

The speaker seems to feel like the whole world is trying to destroy his love for Annabel. But he doesn't think anyone can do that, because his soul is linked to hers. The important thing to notice here is all the ways that he emphasizes their love. This isn't just a crush. Want to tell someone you really love them? Maybe you could try telling them that angels and demons could never rip your souls apart. Well, maybe not.

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling--my darling--my life and my bride (line 38-39)

Marriages usually last "until death do us part." Not this one. In fact, this marriage starts after death. We don't hear anything about her being his bride until she's in the tomb, and we think it's safe to say that this isn't the kind of marriage Annabel's rich parents had in mind. The end of this poem turns everything upside down. When she dies, she becomes his "life." We won't push too hard on the "lie down by the side" thing, but the speaker seems to be recreating the marriage he would have had with Annabel if she hadn't died. We're pretty sure that Poe didn't mean for that to seem normal.