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This week we went to explore Charleston, South Carolina. It is a beautiful old town, with colorful stucco buildings, cobblestone streets, and old churches. There is so much history in Charleston. One of my favorite things was a graveyard at an old Unitarian church. It is left overgrown on purpose and is said to be haunted by the ghost of Annabel Lee.

Local legend tells the story of a sailor who met a woman named Annabel Lee. Her father disapproved of the pairing and the two met privately in a graveyard. Before the sailor’s time stationed in Charleston was up, Annabel’s father locked her away so that she could no longer see him. While the sailor was away at sea, he heard of Annabel’s death from yellow fever, but her father would not allow him at the funeral. Her father buried her in the family plot underneath another grave and had no marker put there so the sailor could never find her. Because he did not know her exact burial location, the sailor instead kept vigil in the cemetery.

There is no evidence that Edgar Allan Poe had heard of this legend, but locals insist it was his inspiration for this poem, especially considering Poe was briefly stationed in Charleston while in the army in 1827. I just love old legends. We explored the whole cemetery and found the graves of the rest of the Lees. Perhaps Annabel is really buried beneath one of them…

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Annabel Lee
By 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.

I was a child and she 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 wingèd seraphs of Heaven

   Coveted her and me.

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And this was the reason that, long ago,

   In this kingdom by the sea,

A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling

   My beautiful Annabel Lee;

So that her highborn 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 by night,

   Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

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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 feel 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 sounding sea.


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