Text: John R. Thompson, “Editor’s Table,” Southern Literary Messenger, vol. XX, no. 2, February 1854, p. 124-125


[page 123, column 2:]

Editor’s Table


[page 124, column 2, continuyed:]

Poe’s exquisite little ballad of “Annabel Lee” goes the round of the newspaper press every month or so, and is quoted by almost every one that writes a critical estimate of the author’s genius for the magazines — but invariably in an incorrect version. The following is strictly accurate, according to the MS. which was handed to us by Poe himself just five days before his death —


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.

She was a child and I 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 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. [page 125:]

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 side of the sea.



Thompson seems to have taken great pride in having what he considered to be the last manuscript Poe wrote, thinking it the final version of “Annabel Lee,” but it was probably an earlier draft, and Poe had it with him merely because he had handed out all of his other copies. His mistake of interpreting the date of distrbution as the date of composition has been followed by numerous Poe scholars. An analysis of the text suggests that other versions contain improvements.


[S:0 - SLM, February 1854] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Editor's Table: Annabel Lee (J. R. Thompson, February 1854)