About Annabel Lee

Written for:  Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads – Weekend Mini-Challenge
“The Heroic Couplet”    (posted by Kim)

“A heroic couplet is a rhyming pair of lines that can be built up with further couplets to create a poem of any number of lines about high subject matter. The meter is usually iambic pentameter (ten syllables with alternating stresses) but may also be tetrameter, and the rhyme scheme is aabbcc and so on. It generally has a strong pause or caesura in the middle of a line, usually after the fifth or sixth syllable.

The sharp rhymes and regular beat made it widely used from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century for epigrammatic and satirical poetry, and its ‘fashionable, tight enclosure of sense and sensibility became an emblem for the times’.”

According to Wikipedia, twentieth century authors have occasionally made use of the heroic couplet, often as an allusion to the works of poets of previous centuries. This weekend the challenge is to write a short-ish (no longer than 30 lines) modern poem in heroic couplets about a favourite poet or one of their works – it doesn’t have to be in iambic pentameter but I would like to see use of strong pauses/caesurae.

The music sings like a harp, the song
of Annabel Lee. His rhymes so strong,
at times they appear twice–in line and end.
Deft interplay of Heaven and sea help lend
a yearning feel, as the angels steal
away with his love, his only love–so real.
At night he mourns and cries for her, though she
spends eternity in a sepulcre by the sea.

Here is the original:

Annabel Lee

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.

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 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 beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn 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 by night,
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 sounding sea.


About purplepeninportland

I am a freelance poet, born and bred in Brooklyn, New York. I live with my husband, John, and two charming rescue dogs–Marion Miller and Murphy. We spent eight lovely years in Portland, OR, but are now back in New York. My goal is to create and share poetry with others who write, or simply enjoy reading poetry. I hope to touch a nerve in you, and feel your sparks as well.
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7 Responses to About Annabel Lee

  1. kim881 says:

    I love that poem, Sarah! It was included in the film of Holes, the wonderful children’s novel by Louis Sachar, when Katherine Barlow, the teacher, falls in love with Sam, the onion man. You captured t its essence in your poem and I agree that it ‘sings like a harp’ and I like the :’Deft interplay of Heaven and sea’.


  2. Vivian Zems says:

    Lines that flow like oil…enjoyed this.


  3. I love how you have talked about the poem and it’s intensity in your poem… I can feel the crush of those waves in the rhymes


  4. Jim says:

    I’m glad your wrote this, Sara. I am a fan of sorts of “Annabelle Lee.” Short, my parents held me back from first grade, there was no kindergarten in our school, so that I would have someone in my class. At first grade level, we got somewhat romantic, more so than kids that age should. Then for the third grade her father pulled her out of school to attend a parochial school. I never saw here again. She killed herself shortly after high school.


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