Study the form of the poem and bring to light the importance of rhyme and rhythm.
Edgar Allan Poe’s poem ‘Annabel Lee’ uses rhythm and rhymes to express the importance of the events, the characters and, most importantly, their love. Indeed, repetitions, alliterations and many other literary devices are used to highlight ideas.
One of the most noticeable elements in this poem is the repetition of ‘kingdom by the sea’. It is repeated five times: once in the first and second stanza on the second line (lines 2 and 8), twice in the third stanza (l. 14 and 20) and once in the fourth stanza (l. 24). We can see that from the third stanza, when the author begins to talk about Annabel Lee’s death, the rhythm with ‘kingdom by the sea’ begins to change, it is repeated a bit sooner than it should be if the rhythm were constant: her death disrupts everything.
In this poem, we feel that the sea and the tide can be compared to love. Indeed, both notions are infinite but unstable. This metaphor could explain the alternation of long and short verses in the first two stanzas, reminding us of the rhythm of the tide. However, the lovers are said to live in a ‘kingdom’: they are above the sea and therefore above any ordinary love – they are king and queen of love; their love is perfect. Their feelings are completely stable, at least until Annabel Lee’s death (as aforementioned) in the third stanza, at the same time as this tide rhythm ends. Indeed, the tide is something unstable but eternal. It creates a kind of life or lifestyle, a tranquility of sorts. The unexpected death of Annabel Lee breaks all of this and changes everything.
In Poe’s poem, we can also observe about how the terrestrial and the cosmic are represented. Here the terrestrial is symbolized by Annabel Lee and her lover and the sea, while the cosmic is symbolized by the angels. According to pre-Cartesian science, whatever happens in the higher spheres of the universe that is not appropriate, that doesn’t abide with the rules will eventually affect life on earth, in other words, cosmic disorder will cause terrestrial disorder. ( the opposite is also true. In Macbeth for example, the assassination of the lawful king – in other words not only a regicide but also a deicide - causes the Heavens to be “troubled with man’s act”, horses “eat each other” and “stones are known to move and trees to speak”, Act II, scene 4 & Act III, scene 4)
The winds can be seen as the first link: they have been sent down to earth by the angels. However the major link between the terrestrial and the cosmic is Annabel Lee: in her first years on earth, she falls in love with a human and their love is above all else, causing jealousy among the angels. Moreover, we can assume that after her death she becomes an angel and goes up to heaven. Her death changes everything, which proves its importance on earth and in heaven. These disturbances affect the structure of the poem, just as they affect the movement of the sea. The angels’ misconduct and Annabel Lee’s death are unnatural events happening in the higher spheres that cause the sea to lose its pace. It follows that Annabel Lee is much more than a simple human being.
We think that the poem is structured in a way that divides it into two patterns: the first containing stanzas one, two, and four when the author is talking about Annabel Lee when she is alive, and the second pattern with stanzas three, five and six, when Annabel Lee is dead. Indeed the ‘long short long short’ rhythm can only be observed in this first pattern, disrupted by the character’s death.
However, the poem’s structure could also be construed in a different way: the disruption in the poem only affecting the third stanza, when Annabel Lee dies; the initial pattern resuming from line 21.
Strikingly, the most frequent rhyme in this poem is that of the sound –ea. Indeed, it reoccurs in the words ‘me’, ‘Annabel Lee’, ‘we’ and ‘sea’. Here these words are merged into one: they are one, same entity. It is just the three of them in this ‘kingdom’.
Furthermore, we can observe a certain musicality through this poem, for example in the girl’s name, which is much more romantic and delicate than Poe’s wife’s real name, Virginia Clem, explaining the author’s choice. In lines 7, 9, 32 and 39, the repetitions of the words ‘child’, ‘love’, ‘soul’ and ‘darling’ introduces alliterations and assonances, reinforcing the musicality. These words make the lovers appear as one: their love unites them, both children sharing the same soul.
From this analysis, we can say that there is as much meaning in the structure of the poem as there is in its words. Indeed, it proves to us the importance of the main character’s name, the symbolism of the tide, their location ‘kingdom by the sea’, and the tension between earth and heaven, the lovers and the angels.
Lily, with Yulius, Emma and Lucie
In the poem “Annabel Lee” written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1849, we picked passages to enhance the perfection and the purity of the lovers’ feelings as well as the ensuing defeat of the jealous angels.
First, we will present the perfect love between the two characters. Then we will talk about the angels’ reaction.
First of all, Annabel Lee is described as a pure lover at the beginning, in verse 3. She is said to be “a maiden”, which means she is a young virgin. This is a proof that their love is extremely pure and ideal. Then, a few lines further down, this idea is reflected in the word ‘child’: adding innocence to her character and making their love even rarer and different from the complex, sometimes less intense, love of the adults.
The perfection of their love is accentuated by the fact that the two kids love everything, not only one another, not just a mutual love, but they love the entire world. It is a powerful idea shown in “we loved” verse 9. The author doesn’t say “we loved each other” but just “we loved”. What’s more, in only one verse, he repeats 3 times the word “love”. Poe wants to create a hypnotic and repeating effect, to make their passion more intense, deep and special.
Verses 5 and 6; there is again the childish, pure and innocent point of view because it looks like they think love is a fairy-tale whereas it will turn in the opposite way. Indeed, her entire existence, day in and day out, is dedicated to love him and to be loved by him. Consequently, she only thinks about love and nothing else, she has no physical needs like eating or sleeping, it’s as if love were the fuel of her life, or better still, as if she were love itself.
These are the reasons why the angels feel inferior and not as perfect and pure as the children’s love, which is purely spiritual and therefore supernatural. They see this love as not acceptable for humans who can’t surpass angels; and that’s why they will kill Annabel Lee later.
The evocation of Seraphs is not the poem’s only allusion to religion. This poem refers to the Bible as we can see verses 10, 11 and 22. “To covet” is what one of the Ten Commandments forbids humans to do, whereas ‘to envy’ is one of the seven capital sins and it has quite the same meaning as “to covet”.
Then (verse 11) the author talks about “seraphims”. It is a type of angel which has the highest rank in the Christian angelic hierarchy. The seraphims are the closest to God. They are the ones who are never supposed to betray him.
However, in this poem they do and by doing so, they are no better than demons. This can be justified in verses 30-33 by the words ‘neither’ and ‘nor’ that makes us deduce that they are defined as working on the same side, the same team and they are becoming criminals. They both fail miserably. The demons and the angels wanted to separate the two lovers, but they didn’t succeed. In reality, the poet did not let the demons separate him from Annabel Lee.
The angels’ failure is obvious not only because their efforts are of no avail but also because they are actually counter-productive, what they achieve is worse than the status quo.
In verse 16, the author says ‘my Annabel Lee’ whereas in verse 33 he says ‘the beautiful Annabel Lee’. By this way, we can notice an evolution: she doesn’t belong to him anymore, neither to the angels. Indeed, the word “the” explains that she now belongs to everyone: she is universal. Instead of destroying her, they make her even more beautiful with the expression “the beautiful Annabel Lee”. The fact that “beautiful” appears now that she is dead means that to a degree, she becomes beautiful at the moment of her death. To add on, the last three times the author mentions Annabel Lee; it could be heard as an echo of the waves, perhaps.
The poet also managed to pass on the idea that the angels failed by using the present tense in the last stanza. The entire poem is written in the preterit except the last stanza, which happens after Annabel Lee dies. In fact, it is a complete reversal. It is a way to suggest that she is still alive, not physically but at least her spirit. Death becomes life. We picked an interesting quote: “for the moon never beams without bringing me dreams”, what we can understand from this is that every night he sees her in his dreams: she is again present as a spirit and not dead; something negative becomes positive.
The author uses the double negations “never” and “without, then “never” and “but” to express something affirmative. This is a device that the author uses because it is a more interesting and effective way to confirm the idea that her death has led to a sort of rebirth. He could have written “the moon always beams with dreams of Annabel Lee” but the theme of the rebirth would have been lost.
Annabel Lee is the reason of the poem and she is clearly the only thing the speaker can think about. Nevertheless, we don’t have many details about her, no description whatsoever (LINK WITH CLEOPATRA??). That’s why one can see Annabel Lee as a symbol of impossibility and purity, not to say perfection and so the embodiment of a nearly supernatural form of love that made the angels jealous.Interestingly, the poet never really shows any anger for them; verse 21 actually reveals that he pities them for their lack of happiness compared to A Lee and himself which, for one thing, enhances how happy the latter were and secondly, is arguably a little sarcastic. The truth to the matter is that pitying them or making fun of them clearly points to their undisputable defeat
Matahari, with Nina, Fara and Margot.
In this presentation, we are going to show that the love that seems to bring the two heroes together will eventually turn into a destructive passion. First, we are going to talk about Cleopatra’s power, then we are going to talk about the violence of their relationship and finally about their relationship in itself.
Line 1, the adjective “triumphant”, accentuated by the superlative “most”, shows that Cleopatra will always win, that she will always obtain what she wants, the obstacles do not matter. Cleopatra is powerful: if she and Antony were to have a conflict, she would definitely triumph. Such a powerful man as Antony will not accept it very easily, hence the destructive conflicts.
Besides, “lady” is a name for a respected woman. So, to name Cleopatra like that shows that people respect her and perhaps even fear her. Therefore, it already prepares us for the nature of their relationship.
Lines 9 -15, the lexical field of love and violence describes their relationship and the destruction it is going to create. It is an extended metaphor about them which predicts their relationship to come: it is going to be violent love. We can compare it to masochism, because they seem to be in need of this violence, or “amorous” of it. Cleopatra manipulates Antony and she can do anything with him. Again, it is foretelling for the rest of the story.
Line 9 is a metaphor about their love affair: they are like fire versus water. It is kind of like a prediction about their relationship: they cannot be together but they cannot resist each other. They feed an unnatural passion for each other, which will, as we know from the rest of the play, kill them. This proves they are bound by a destructive passion.
Line 3, the expression “she pursed up his heart” is very interesting and we think it should not be separated from line 46-47 “And for his ordinary pays his heart for what his eyes eat only”. In both passages we can find the lexical field of money, business and implicit violence. In any relation, if there is a price to “pay”, it does not sound very promising and very romantic. Moreover, if the “heart” is what you pay with, it’s even worse; it is not what we would expect. In this kind of text, we would expect the lexical field of love but it is not the case here.
“Pursed up his heart” is a metaphor to describe how carelessly and violently she will treat him. Cleopatra will destroy Antony through their love. She considers him as hers and literally puts his heart in her pocket as she would do with any object or with money. This brings us to line 46 “and for his ordinary pays his heart” in which, once again, his heart pays as if it were money. In those lines Shakespeare suggests that when Antony went to Cleopatra’s house, he suffered because all he could do was watch Cleopatra “for what his eyes eat only” and in addition to this, the meal wasn’t all that delicious either!
Lines 33-34 show us the influence of Cleopatra on others. In it, everyone in the city has left to see Cleopatra except for Antony who stays “alone” in the marketplace; as first, he wants to show his superiority by not following the others. But it just does not work, as he ends up totally isolated and away from the important action. A man like him needs public attention so he finally went to see her too, because if he didn’t go he would feel bad, useless and politically unimportant. Cleopatra’s absence causes him to feel empty, as the reference to the “gap in nature” suggests, as we said he needs her, he is submitted to her, but as we also know, desperate need and submission have never been very constructive.
It justifies line 1, as Cleopatra will certainly win, since she can do everything she wants with him.
Antony being alone also proves that it is a bit of a one sided relationship: Antony loves Cleopatra but she does not in return, at least not as much as he does.
Lines 21-23, nstead of cooling their cheeks, the fans make the boys’ cheeks blush and feel hotter. This can be a comparison to fire : when you try to cool down fire, it blows even more and increases in intensity. This is foretelling about Antony and Cleopatra’s relationship, which is a destructive passion. When they try to cool things down it will eventually lead to the exact opposite. This passage reminds us of line 9, where there is also an allusion to fire.
Then line 31the perfume is a metaphor for Cleopatra and her presence. People come to her by smelling her perfume. In this passage the word “sense” has two meanings: it designates the five senses, especially the olfactory sense in this extract (“perfume”) It also designates reason, rational thinking. By giving this word two meanings, Shakespeare emphasizes the fact Cleopatra has a great influence on people, she can manipulate their feelings, senses and emotions. This represents the lovers’ relationship: Cleopatra has got a certain influence on Antony and he won’t be able to resist her. The use of the verb “hit” , which belongs to the lexical field of violence, is also representative of their unreasonable passion, a passion that hits the sense, that disrupts their reason.
In conclusion, this passage foretells the tense relationship between the two lovers and the destruction it is going to create.
Pierre, Elisa, Céleste and Ralu.
PART 1 (I have made a few additions, mainly link-words)
In this presentation, we have to highlight the fact that Cleopatra's beauty and power are exceptional if not supernatural. Our work is divided in two parts, one about Cleopatra’s influence and the other about Cleopatra's beauty.
First, as far as her beauty is concerned, lines 8-9: "the barge she sat in like a burnished throne burned on the water" is a metaphor showing how radiant Cleopatra's boat was and also how everything she was in contact with had to be extremely beautiful. "Burned on the water" is an oxymoron: fire cannot resist water and it also shows how supernatural her boat was. The impossible becomes possible.
Line 10-11, when the speaker says that "the sails [were] so perfumed that the winds were lovesick with them" the reader may perceive two meanings. On the one hand you can say that it is an allegory to show how her incredible scent invaded the air. Or on the other hand you can say that, in fact, the winds represent the gods that came all the way down to see her and were astonished by her beauty. On top of things, it seems Cleopatra directly affects the state of natural elements.
In the same way, lines 25-26 tell us that "her gentlewomen” are like “so many mermaids" and that "a seeming mermaid steers" We can see that even the mermaids, magical creatures, known for their incredible beauty, came to see Cleopatra and admire her and her perfection. That not only means that she is more beautiful than the mermaids, but also that magical creatures take their orders from her.
Line 32-33 the reader is told that "the city cast her people upon her" This is a personification that shows that even the city, an inanimate object, came to see her, which is obviously impossible but that means that she really does have a supernatural influence/aura. She gives life to lifeless things. Incidentally, the verb “cast” is a clear reference to the lexical field of spells and bewitching, an allusion to her influence on Antony. As a matter of fact, through lines 3-4+39-45, one can see that Antony has deeply fallen in love with Cleopatra as if she had cast a spell on him ("she pursed up his heart on the river of Cydnus"). The fact that she says no to Antony' invitation to supper and that he seems to accept it shows how strong her influence is on him, she manages to bend the will of one of Rome’s most powerful leaders, which is quite something for the queen of a supposedly inferior kingdom that was to become a Roman province.
Concerning Cleopatra's beauty, line 5: "there she appeared" reflects that she did not just arrive like a normal being, no she appeared like a goddess, out of nowhere, as if she was an angel with a golden aura around her that made everyone astonished by her arrival.
The unsuccessful attempt of the speaker at describing her beauty "for her own person it beggared all description" line 15 is a hyperbole. Her perfection cannot be put into words because such words don’t exist and any attempt would not be enough = would be of no avail. That reminds us once more that she is or is like a goddess, human words are helpless when it comes to portray her.
Line 1, the expression "a most triumphant lady" summarizes what she reflected on the day she met Antony. It shows her as a victorious lady, someone so powerful that no one can compete against her. And as we said earlier on, that is a reversal of the roles and of the usually accepted balance of powers because, at that time the Roman Empire was the most powerful whereas in the play, it's Cleopatra who plays this role.
To conclude we can say that, even the great Shakespeare could not describe Cleopatra with simple words and that he was forced to use a lot of figures of speech.
Ludmila (with Yoen, Noe & Alina)
TEST ON "ANTONY & CLEOPATRA" OCT 2nd, you will be required to write a synthetic account of both presentations, to be posted very shortly.
Activity n°1 shall be presented on Wednesday by Ludmila / Yoen / Noe / Alina.
All other groups please have your own findings & ideas ready for sharing after their presentation.
Preparations of activity n°2 will resume after the above.
For Friday, make sure you've done the vocabulary exercise and read the overview of the play before starting your work on activity # 1 in class. You may of course take a little head start and jot down a few notes on this activity before the actual group work starts on Friday.
Also, as we did not have the time for it this morning, please have a "fiche individuelle de renseignements" filled out for me Friday, on which you will say your name, address, parents' phone #, which one of your parents is a native speaker if any, your projects for after high school, what you think the OIB section can bring you as a student and as a person, and, last but not least, what you think you can bring to this class (a positive and active attitude, punctuality, etc).
Have a good afternoon and blog happily!
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