Annabel Lee

by EDGAR ALLAN POE (1809-1849)

(Griswold version)

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 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 beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her high-born 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 Annabel 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 Annabel Lee:—

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel 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 sounding sea.

Librivox.org has many readings of Annabel Lee. (We are featuring Mr. H. Jeong’s reading). They seem to be equally divided between the version Poe gave to critic Rufus Wilmot Griswold, and the one he later gave to editor John Thompson, (Southern Literary Messenger). Some are a combination.
How do you tell which is which? The first difference will usually be in the first line of the second stanza reversing the order of who was a child. The last stanza will say “sounding sea”(Griswold) and may say “feel the bright eyes;” instead of “side of the sea” and “see the bright eyes” (Thompson).
Poe reportedly gave Griswold and Thompson these 2 versions not long before he died. Some believe the one given to Thompson represented Poe’s definitive wishes; however, had he lived, he may have concurred with popular opinion in preferring the “sounding sea.”
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