Alliteration in Annabel Lee

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  • 0:00 'Annabel Lee' - A…
  • 1:11 Stanzas 1 and 2
  • 2:46 Stanzas 3 and 4
  • 4:02 Stanzas 5 and 6
  • 5:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

Alliteration is the repetition of initial consonant sounds within a passage of text. Edgar Allan Poe's 'Annabel Lee' contains several examples of this literary device, which is often used to make a line of poetry memorable.

'Annabel Lee' - A Memorable Poem

'Annabel Lee' by Edgar Allan Poe is a poem that many people memorize. It is a narrative poem, which means that it is a poem that tells a story. Poe's poem is about a young couple so in love that, according to the young man who narrates, the angels become jealous. The angels cause a chilling cloud to blow an illness into the young man's beloved Annabel Lee. Annabel's family has her buried near the sea, where the young man goes to mourn every night.

In addition to its compelling, and perhaps twisted, story, 'Annabel Lee' is also memorable for its use of alliteration. Alliteration is the repetition of initial consonant sounds within a passage of text. Alliteration is a poetic device that makes a line of poetry particularly memorable for the reader, and since many poems are meant to be read or spoken aloud, alliteration contributes to the pleasing sound of the poem.

Stanzas 1 and 2

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.

The first instance of alliteration occurs in the first stanza of 'Annabel Lee.' The first three lines contain repetition of the m consonant sound: many, maiden, and may. The word maiden appears again in the fifth line. Lines 4-6 contain the words Lee, lived, love, and loved, all which begin with the letter l. Lines 5 and 6 of the poem contain alliterated words beginning with th: thought and than.

The second stanza again repeats the l sound with Lee and love used once again in the poem. There are only two other alliterated words in this stanza. Poe uses the words with and winged in stanza 2, both of which begin with w.

Stanzas 3 and 4

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.

Stanza 3 of 'Annabel Lee' contains repeated b and s sounds with blew, beautiful, bore, sepulchre, and sea.

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