Symbolism in Annabel Lee Poem
Many Poems use words that have symbolic meaning. Symbolic meanings can expand into multiple meaning and can be interpreted in many different ways. In Edgar Allan Poe’s Poem “Annabel Lee” Mr. Poe uses the words “with a love that the winged seraphs in heaven” (Poe, 1849, Line 11). This is symbolic of a deep warm peaceful love, just as what is meant to be given when hugging someone. Although Poe called them “seraphs” the more accurate term would be “seraphims”, with an I and an M at the end. According to Bonnie Moss in the article titled Hierarchy of angels (2003) “Seraphim are the highest order of the Hierarchy of Angels. These angelic beings spend their time worshiping and praising God.” In the Bible, (KJV), the term “seraphims” is only found only twice. The first occurrence is found in Isaiah 6:2, which states “Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.” (Isaiah 6:2 KJV) and the second occurrence is found in Isaiah 6:6, which states “Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar” (Isaiah 6:6 KJV). In the Poem “Annabel Lee” it is most likely that Mr. Poe could have referenced any type of angle as opposed to seraphim, however since it is believed that seraphim are of the highest order of hierarchy of angels, perhaps Mr. Poe used them to be a symbol of the highest form of love for his Annabel Lee. Although looking at the bible verses Isaiah 6:2 and Isaiah 6:6 there is no direct mention that seraphim’s are in any hierarchy of angels or if there is such a thing. However according to angelfocus.com There are nine celestial orders of angels, in which Seraphim’s are the highest order. (Angel focus, 2003) This agrees with what Bonnie Moss wrote about angles, as mentioned earlier, and was most likely the commonly accepted idea in Edgar Allan Poe’s culture.
Still there are other ideas about angles. Author L. Meyers wrote an article called the ten types of angles and the roles they play in our lives. In her article she states “The third and fourth level of angels are the Cherubim and Seraphim” (Para 7) This suggests Seraphim are not the highest order of angles. But because Mr. Poe choose the word seraphim, it suggests that he did not take the same view of Mrs Meyers. However it is clear that Mr. Poe believed that the seraphim’s did have wings, which could mean his knowledge of seraphim’s came from Isaiah 6:2 of the Bible.
Another symbol in poetry is the eagle. The eagle has been symbolic in many ways. In the poem called “Spliced Wire” the author writes “eagles, ravens, owls on rims of red canyon.” (Baca, 1982, line 10) The symbolism here is that these birds make very unique and precise sounds that are pleasant to hear. The symbol of the eagle can also mean sharp vision and the ability to see hidden meanings. Eagles also have the ability for speed and agility giving them freedom and power, which can also be a symbolic meaning of the eagle. Freedom and power is a desired trait among men of all cultures. The eagle is the highest flying bird and can represent high places or dominance, or to lead with freedom. According to Trish Phillips:
An eagle’s eyes are up to eight times sharper than that of humans and contain many more color-sensitive cones. Located on the side of the head, their eyes provide a wide field of view. Bald eagles have large wings compared to other birds, allowing them to soar and hunt vast areas with a minimum of effort. During migration they can travel 400 to 500 miles a day. Bald eagles have large, sharp talons and strong feet which they use to catch their prey. (para 5)
All of these traits can be viewed symbolically to whatever a poet would want to utilize it for.
Another symbol from the poem “Spliced Wire” is “pull the plug.” “Pull the plug” is symbolic for putting an end to something, often forcefully. If you are writing about a mission such as a military mission, and the mission gets canceled, you could say someone in command pulled the plug on that mission. Likewise, if you are trying to complete a mission and you get so far, and then it becomes obvious that there is no way to complete the mission, then you could use the phrase the plug got pulled on that mission. In the same way if you are trying to reach any goal and something happens that is sure goal breaker, you can use the plug got pulled on that one as a symbolic phrase.
There are nearly an endless supply of symbolic language that can be used when writing poems or other material.
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