Friday, October 16, 2009

the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes (Friday's Sunday's Poem 36)

Annabel Lee
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 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 winged 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 kinsman 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 a 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 side of the sea.


I'm kind of leaning more, lately, to the idea that poetry must rhyme to be poetry, that if it doesn't rhyme, it's just a very very short story. Then I read poems that don't rhyme but which are very good poems and not really stories at all, and I start to change my mind, but then I go back and think "But what is it that makes something a poem, not prose?" and the only thing I can really think of is that poems rhyme.

So I've presented
Annabel Lee as today's poem to highlight that question: What makes something a poem, because Annabel Lee is almost a short story: two children, fated to be in love and spend their lives together, but one dies young and is buried by the sea, dying because the angels in Heaven were jealous and took her away, but even in death couldn't destroy the sad love the poet has for Annabel Lee.

Almost a short story, but not quite, because it only hints at a plot and because all of the details of the two people's lives are entirely invented in the reader's mind; your Annabel Lee and mine will look and act very different, I expect.

I'm not ready, today, to answer the question of
what makes a poem a poem, but it's worth thinking about.

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