Annabel Lee: Rhytm and Meter

Talking about Rhythm, Edgar Alan Poe was a master of it. He was able to pick and choose the right words to match the sound. It is proven in this Annabel Lee poem. This poem is rich of rhythm. The words used are in their best order that they please our ear and whenever we read it aloud, they slip easily off our tongue. The falling-down intonation the words have is matched together. Those words form more likely song lyrics which sound very enjoyable. The rhyme stated at the end of lines also influences the rhythm and meter. It makes the content of the poem more meaningful and memorable than any other ordinary poem.

Furthermore, it has constant and well-ordered patterns in every stanza. It is made of long and short lines mixed up together. Those long and short lines are interspaced each other. First, you get a long one and then a short one, and so on.

The meter of this poem is somewhat complicated but fascinating. It consists mostly of anapestic and iambic, but some of the feet are trochaic and amphibrach. The fourth stanza almost has a complete meter because it consists of amphibrach, iambic, anapestic, and trochaic. The measurements of the feet in every stanza are dimeter and trimeter. Then, the interesting part is the caesura. There is only one full stop in the last line of a stanza which means the whole line in the stanza is run-on or enjambment lines. We can take a conclusion then that this poem only consists of six end-stopped lines. One line is equal to one stanza. It is such a characteristic this Poe’s poem has.

To see the details of the meter analysis, here is its scansion:

The first stanza has anapestic and iambic feet. It can be seen below that there are feet with unstressed-unstressed-stressed and unstressed-stressed syllables. The measurements of the feet are dimeter and trimeter. Then, the four other lines are included in run-on line because they are actually two sentences that are separated by space.

It was ma|ny and ma|ny a year|ago|| 
In a king|dom by|the sea|| 
That a mai|den there lived|whom you| may know 
By the name|of ANNA|BEL LEE|| 
And this mai|den she lived|with noo|ther thought 
Than to love|and be loved|by me||

The same with the first one, the second stanza also has anapestic and iambic feet and dimeter and trimeter measurement. We can see that it is more likely a characteristic Poe made to mark this poem.   

I was|a child| and she was|child, 
In this king|dom by|the sea, 
But we loved|with alove|that was more|than love-
 I and my|Anna|bel Lee; 
With a love|that the winged|seraphs of|heaven 
Cove|ted her|and me||

The third stanza has the same feet with the previous ones, but just, in this stanza, there is a trochaic foot. This trochaic foot consists of a stressed syllable and an un-stressed syllable. The measurements of the feet are still consistent with dimeter and trimeter.

And this|was the rea|son that||long ago, 
In this king|dom by|the sea, 
wind|blew out|of acloud||chilling 
Of the beau|tiful Ann|abel Lee; 
So that|her high|born kins|man came 
And bore|her away|from me, 
To shut|her up|in a se|pulchre 
In this king|dom by|the sea||

Covering four types of feet, this stanza can be said as the most complete and complicated stanza. It consists of amphibrach, iambic, anapestic, and trochaic. We have met iambic, anapestic, and trochaic in the previous stanzas, but amphibrach is somewhat new in this poem. It is a foot having unstressed-stressed-unstressed syllables. However, there is a consistency in the feet measurement. 

If we look further, there is a strange foot in this stanza. In the third line, there is a word ‘Yes’ which is the only foot having only a syllable. This foot is not included in anywhere but stands alone with a stressed intonation. 

The angels|not half|so happy|in heaven, 
Went en|vying her|and me- 
Yes!- that was|thereason|(as all|men know, In this king|dom by|the sea
That the wind|came out|of thecloud|by night, 
Chilling and|killing my|Anna|bel Lee||

The fifth and the sixth stanza have the same feet with the first and the second one which are anapestic and iambic. The measurements are the same too; dimeter and trimeter measurement. 

But our love|it was stro|nger by far|than the love 
Of those|who were ol|der than we- 
Of ma|ny far wi|ser than we- 
And nei|ther the an|gels in hea|ven above, 
Nor the de|mons down un|der the sea, 
Can e|ver disse|ver my soul|from the soul 
Of the beau|tiful Ann|abelLee||

For the moon|never beams|without bring|ing me dreams 
Of the beau|tiful Ann|abel Lee
And the stars|never rise|but I feel|the bright eyes 
Of the beau|tiful Ann|abel Lee
And soall|the night-tide|I lie down|by the side 
Of my darling|my darling|my life|and my bride
In the se|pulchre there|by the sea
In her tomb|by the sound|ing sea||

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