Annabel Lee (task 3, p. 185)

A ballad is a poem that tells a story. Traditionally, ballads were meant for singing and were passed down orally from generation to generation. The authors were unknown. Ballads composed by known authors who imitate the rhythm, rhyme and stanza forms of a folk ballad are known as literary ballads. The ballad that you are about to read is a literary ballad written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1849.

castle by sea

Annabel Lee

By Edgar Allan Poe

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 Anabel 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 Anabel Lee –

With a love that the wingéd 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 by night

            Chilling my Anabel 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, chilling

            And killing my Anabel 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 Anabel Lee: –


For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams

            Of the beautiful Anabel Lee;

And the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes

            Of the beautiful Anabel 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 side of the sea.





Understanding the ballad

  1. This ballad tells the story of the poet’s undying love for the “beautiful Annabel Lee”. What has happened to her?
  2. How did Annabel Lee die? What explanation does the poet give for her death?
  3. Does the poet feel “separated” from his love? Explain.
  4. Are there any lines that are repeated? What effect does this have?
  5. Can you imagine this ballad set to music? Why or why not?
  6. What is the effect of the regular rhythm and the rhymes in this ballad?


Language work

The following paragraph is taken from the short story "A Spanish Ghost Story" and tells the story of a German governess who is puzzled and terrified by the strange happenings in the household where she works. Unfortunately, all punctuation and capitalization were left out when the story was typewritten at the publishers. Correct the paragraph.


a night or two after this i had gone to bed later than usual and just as i was putting out my light i heard someone moving about in the sitting-room a chair was pushed back from the table and someone began to walk up and down the room this time there could be no mistake i distinctly heard the footsteps on the marble again i rose and opened the door no one was to be seen there was no place in the room where one could hide and no way of getting out of the room except down the staircase or through my bedroom the staircase door was locked and no one could have got into my bedroom without passing me i could not understand it i heard the same noises now and then for the next fortnight and could find no explanation for them at last i resolved to speak to mrs garcia



Who or what do you think is making the noises? Write a continuation of the story in which you reveal the secret of the Spanish ghost.


maiden ung pike

winged som har vinger / som har venger

seraph engel

covet begjære/attrå

highborn adelig/adeleg

kinsman slektning

bear, bore, borne bære/bere

sepulchre gravkammer

dissever skille at / skilje frå

beam stråle

tomb grav