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Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" and "Annabel Lee" were written in an attempt to quantify his feelings of grief, loss, and mental instability caused by death of his woman. These two poems are very dark and foreboding. The raven mocks him his despair, while in Annabel Lee the writer laments his loss of a young lover. The symbology, of animals, mystical beings, astronomical references, and weather conditions are used to help illustrate the feelings of anger, despair, anguish, and personal torment.
In "Annabel Lee" Poe writes
"I was a child and she 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 winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me". (lines 7-12)
"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) (line 21-24)
This poem "Annabelle Lee" is probably a fictitious story. While there is a similarity to Romeo and Juliet the entire story leaves a great deal to the imagination. A far away country by the sea, indicates a fairy tale type relationship. Lines seven thru twelve and twenty-one thru twenty-four, give some background on the young lovers. Was Poe trying to imply that "Annabel Lee was pure?" The manner of her death seems to indicate that her death was a cruel and unfortunate. Their love, according to the writer was so monumentally great that the seraphs in heaven became jealous of it. The term "seraphs" is a biblical term used in reference of angels in heaven. The young man accuses the seraphs of causing the cold wind to blow and freeze Annabel Lee.
Following the death of his lover, the writer states;
"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". (lines 17-20)
"And neither the angles in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee". (lines 30-33)
Lines seventeen thru twenty indicate that the girls family was wealthy. Her family took the body to a place far-away and placed it in a sepulchre. A sepulchre was usually a place where that the wealthy were buried. This continues the fantasy idea that a hero will rise to awaken the young lass and restore her from the clutches of evil. The writer accuses evil, nefarious, envious angels, of conspiring to cause the wind to freeze his bride's life. But even in death the love these two could not be broken. Lines thirty thru thirty-three contend, that no matter the distance, powers, or principalities that are involved in this affair, their love can never be vanquished.
The poem "The Raven" begins with a man reading a book next to a dying fire, on a cold winter December night. He is more than likely lethargic, due to the cold weather, and sleepy because it late at night. These conditions along with melancholy over the loss of a loved one can make for interesting hallucinations. As he answers the door no one is there and all he hears is "Lenore". This setup, of cold, dark, lonely place allows the reader a oppritunity to understand why someone might hallucinate an entire conversation with a creature that has no physical capability of speaking. This sequence of event repeats, and the man begins to become afraid of what is happening, but returns to his room shrugging of the event as a fluke.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
" Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door;
Only this, and nothing more."
Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow, sorrow for the lost Lenore,
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore,
Nameless here forevermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me-filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door,
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door.
This it is, and nothing more."
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is, I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you." Here I opened wide the door;
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word,
Lenore?, This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word,
"Lenore!" Merely this, and nothing more. (lines 1-30)
The man returns back to his room still hearing the tapping. He suspects that it is the wind causing the window move about in its frame. However, when he investigates the source of the taping a raven fly's in and perches itself upon a bust of Pallas. This "Pallus" is a head and shoulder statue of the Greek god of Wisdom. The raven says "Nevermore." The man lacks understanding of the reply, but this shaved bird of evil says nothing else until the man says "You will leave in the morning". The bird again reply's with "Nevermore."
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping, something louder than before,
"Surely," said I, surely, that is something at my window lattice.
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore.
Let my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore.
"Tis the wind, and nothing more."( lines 31-36)
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven, of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door.
Perched upon a bust of Pallas, just above my chamber door,
Perched, and sat, and nothing more. (lines 37-42)
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning, little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door,
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore." (lines 49- 54)
But the raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered; not a feather then he fluttered;
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "Other friends have flown before;
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore." (lines 55-60)
Thus I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl, whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er
She shall press, ah, nevermore! (line 73-78)
Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he hath
Sent thee respite-respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, O quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore!"
"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!-prophet still, if bird or devil!
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate, yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-
On this home by horror haunted-tell me truly, I implore:
Is there--is there balm in Gilead?-tell me--tell me I implore!"
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore." (lines 79-90)
The man has a conversation with the raven he asks various questions. The last question he askes of the raven "if there is respite in Gilead and if he will again see Lenore in Heaven" but the raven response is one of "Nevermore." This response infuriates the writer he demands that the raven leave immediately. But, the raven does not leave.
The writer in Annabele Lee mourns the death of his woman. This love is all consuming affair. Her death brings out the worst in him. He feels that angle conspired to kill, the rich family took her away so that he would have nothing but her memory to sustain him. A lonely man tries to ease his " loss for Lenore," by distracting his mind with old books. Sadly he is interrupted by a raven who in due time, tells him that Lenore is not in heaven.