On October 7, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe is found alone and dead on a park bench in Baltimore. One of his final works, “Annabel Lee,” is published following his passing.

The circumstances around his death remain mysterious. He had been found day before outside Gunner’s Hall, a public house serving as a pop-up polling location for Election Day in Baltimore, Maryland. A letter from Joseph W. Walker, the man who found him on the streets, described him as “worse for wear” and “in great distress.” Between Walker’s discovery of Poe on the streets and Poe’s death, the poet and writer never gained enough consciousness to explain what happened. Theories concerning his exact cause of death include various means of accidental poisoning, rabies, the flu, and even murder.

Annabel Lee follows one of Poe’s favorite themes, the death of a beautiful woman beloved by the main character. It is sometimes interpreted that his attraction to this theme was one of the ways Poe coped with the deaths of women he loved throughout his life.

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.

Edgar Allan Poe, Annabel Lee

Book Title: Selected Short Stories  

Book Author: Poe, Edgar Allan

Dewey Decimal Call Number: 811 P

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