In Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee” Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ideas about the role of a poet are embodied just as they are in his work “Nature”. The role of a poet according to Emerson must have the capacity to interpret, prophesize, and must have the ability to color and accompany life. (VCU) All of these three ideas are personified in Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee”, which explores the theme of the death of a beautiful woman and how the narrator strongly retains his love for her.
Poe puts the ability to interpret in his poem by letting the reader understand, just as he does, how much the narrator is in love with Annabel Lee, for example, “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)” (Poe 1229) In those lines he is telling the reader that their love for each other was so strong that even the angels in Heaven were jealous.
According to author Jennifer M. Willhite, “The angels were jealous of their love and there is a self-insert in the poem that shows the reader that he is telling the story to someone or he is remembering the events and is making claims with is after so many years. It also shows us that it is a universal love story, even though Annabel Lee dies.” (Suite)
Another form of Emerson’s idea that is shown through this poem is the ability to prophesize for example, in lines 15-19, “A wind blew out of a cloud by night/ Chilling my Annabel Lee; / So that her high-born kinsmen came/ And bore her away from me,/ To shut her up in a sepulcher.
.”. (Poe 1229) Here Poe is foreshadowing her death when he begins his line saying “a wind blew out of a cloud by night, chilling…”, also describing a sepulcher to shut her up in, which is a chamber used as a grave. (Dictionary)
Poe in addition also personifies the ability to color and accompany life which he uses broadly in this poem for example in the lines “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 sepulcher there by the sea-/ In her tomb by the side of the sea.”. (Poe 1230) Here the narrator remembers her through personifying the moon that it brings him dreams that she is watching over him with “bright eyes.” The last four lines tell us that he is lying down by her tomb, or her corpse, and he has been doing so for years as he calls her his life. These lines add so much sorrow and inevitable true love to the story that the reader cannot help but feel captivated by this poem.
Emerson’s ideas about the role of a poet that must interpret, prophesize, and can color and accompany life, are truly embodied in the poem “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allen Poe. There is no doubt that after any reader reads and understands this poem, they will not help but feel mesmerized and captivated by this tale of love, loss, and sadness. Edgar Allen Poe is truly a great poet!