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.
–Annabel Lee, by Edgar Allen Poe
In the spirit of Valentine’s day, I thought that a quote from a love poem would work well for this week’s Commonplace Assignment. Although Edgar Allen Poe may not be known as the happiest of writers, his work (and especially this poem) is considered to be quite beautifully written. Those who are familiar with the entirety of Annabel Lee know that this is a rather dark and complex poem, however the first stanza (quoted above) is very sweet and endearing. Here, Poe is talking about a girl who has “no other thought than to love and be loved” by the narrator. What I enjoy about this poem, and especially this stanza, is how it evokes a feeling of nostalgia for the reader. This is done by not only using time (“many and many a year ago”) but also referencing “a kingdom by the sea”. This reference to an unspecified location is often used in writing to bring up feelings of mystery and imagination. References to the sea in particular can be tied closely to elements of death, loneliness, and isolation- however, the sea can also represent possibility and uncertainty. This first stanza does not lead to the reader to directly associate death with the writing, however elements of mystery, possibility, and uncertainty are all more blatantly present. What’s also cool about this stanza, is that Poe is able to hint at a storyline with significant depth and possible darkness, without using any direct cues. So although this poem may not be the happiest in its entirety, the writing style of this first stanza definitely deserves recognition.