What Is the Rhyme Scheme of Annabel Lee?

José María Pérez Nuñez/CC-BY-2.0

The poem “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allen Poe employs an irregular rhyme scheme that shifts from verse to verse, yet constantly repeats the “ee” sound, rhyming with “Lee,” in the even-numbered lines of each stanza. This pattern is broken only in the final stanza, in which the speaker takes an extra line to mourn his dead bride, then returns to the rhyming pattern established in the previous stanzas.

“Annabel Lee” was the last poem Poe wrote. He considered it a ballad, and it does indeed follow the lilting metric pattern of the ballad form with the use of anapests contrasted with iambs; its irregular stanza lengths, however, cause it to break the mold of the strict ballad form. The rhyme scheme seems to be established in the first stanza as A-B-A-B-C-B. While that “B” rhyme, the “ee” syllable is repeated in each stanza, the rest of the rhyme scheme begins to alter immediately, with the second stanza showing a rhyme scheme of D-B-E-B-F-B. As the poem continues, the only constant is that “ee” rhyme falling on alternate lines, even when the stanza length varies. The pattern begins to break up in the fourth stanza, when Poe repeats an “ee” rhyme, contrasting “older than we” and “wiser than we,” to stress the power of the speaker’s love with Annabel Lee. He breaks the pattern again in the fifth and final stanza as he rhymes “side” and “bride” directly, with no line ending in “we” to break up the lines. These lines also break the rhythmic pattern, emphasizing the change caused by the death of his bride.