Annabel Lee: Denotation and Connotation


The poem by Edgar Alan Poe titled Annabel Lee uses connotation style of language. It can be seen from the words chosen that express the ideas Edgar intended indirectly. They show the feelings and the meanings of the poem explicitly that we need to analyze it to understand what the poet wants to tell us about through his writing; whether it is about a love story being apart caused by social status, or death, or parents, or any other details in the poem. This poem is most likely a narrative text if we delete the spaces between each line. It feels like Edgar is telling us a story in a form of poem. We have to interpret every each word to get the real meaning. For example, the word ‘kinsman’ which has the Indonesian equivalent of ‘sanak saudara’ is somewhat an unfamiliar term to us. Then, the word ‘angels’ is a representation of perfection Annabel Lee had. It is mentioned that the angels were jealous of her meanwhile she was just a human. She must be that perfect to make goddesses got envy.

The line saying ‘In a kingdom by the sea’, which is repeated in every line, has a high quality of denotation. It paraphrases the place Annabel Lee and the writer lived in was peaceful. The word ‘sea’ somehow gives us an image of a quiet and pleasant place. This phrase also shows that their love was perfect for it was in a wonderful spot and condition.

Then, the phrases ‘For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams’ and ‘And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes’ have a connotation meaning that the planet and the circumstances supported his yearning love. They give a representation as if the world would be ended if the writer stopped thinking and loving Annabel Lee. Another phrase to add up this interpretation is stated in the fifth line of the last stanza which says ‘And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side’. This phrase shows that the writer really missed his woman that he followed her to her grave; sleeping by the side of it. Poe rose up an assumption that Annabel Lee lived only to love and think about the writer. It is stated in the two last lines of the first stanza; ‘And this maiden she lived with no other thoughtThan to love and be loved by me. This expression sounds redundant, of course, but it is how Poe emphasized Annabel Lee in this poem. He acted as if he knew everything the woman did and thought of.

There are so many connotative phrases which reveal the strength of the love Annabel Lee and the writer had. Poe liked to use comparisons to give a pattern on his expressions. We can take a look at the quotation of some lines of the poem below.

But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
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.

When we look up for connotation words in this poem, we cannot only look up the dictionary to understand the meaning of difficult words but should also interpret according to the context behind its exact meaning. There’s a fine difference between denotation and connotation. Denotation has meanings as what it is written in dictionary. There might be more than one meaning for a word, so that’s why we need to see the context of the poem. The example from this Annabel Lee poem is the word ‘bore’ which has nine meanings and one of them is to talk or act in a way that makes someone lose interest and become tired. Although denotation uses simple style of language, but still, we will not understand the furthermore meaning of the content of the poem without considering every single word because they are related each other. It proves that a word matters the whole poem.

We should also consider the beauty of literary writing when we conceive this poem. It will not become a literature work if we translate each word, each line, and each stanza only by their meanings based on the dictionary, because the essential part of poetry is out-of-box creativity, and that is what connotation defines.
So, those are the reason why Annabel Lee poem is included in Connotation. The interpretation is up to the readers but there is a big chance to match what Poe wanted to tell us about through every denotation word and the inserted connotation meanings in them.

Pick what analysis aspect of Annabel Lee you want to read by clicking below links. 
Imagery
Figurative Language
Musical Devices
Rhytm and Meter
Tone and Theme