Friday, June 4, 2010

Today's poem - The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe

I don't usually comment when I post a poem, but I wanted to say that I had to memorize this when I was in school, and amazingly I still remember a fair bit of it. I often find myself hearing the words in my head. I think it is a fantastic piece of work.

The Bells
by Edgar Allan Poe


         Hear the sledges with the bells--
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells--
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.


         Hear the mellow wedding bells
Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
From the molten-golden notes,
And all in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
How it swells!
How it dwells
On the Future! how it tells
Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells--
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!


         Hear the loud alarum bells--
Brazen bells!
What tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor
Now--now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear, it fully knows,
By the twanging,
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows ;
Yet, the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling,
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells--
Of the bells--
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells--
In the clamour and the clangour of the bells!


          Hear the tolling of the bells--
Iron bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy meaning of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people--ah, the people--
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All alone,
And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone--
They are neither man nor woman--
They are neither brute nor human--
They are Ghouls:--
And their king it is who tolls ;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls, rolls,
A pæan from the bells!
And his merry bosom swells
With the pæan of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells ;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the pæan of the bells--
Of the bells :
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells--
Of the bells, bells, bells--
To the sobbing of the bells ;
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells--
Of the bells, bells, bells--
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells--
Bells, bells, bells--
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.


  1. "molten-golden notes".
    Good old Edgar.
    I still remember Annabel Lee.

  2. You have encouraged me to have this one memorized next year with I study Poe with my high school students. WOW, You memorized the whole thing.
    It has a rhythm to it which helps and must be read aloud! Thanks for this post! I will bookmark for the Fall!

  3. It must be a standard practice to make students memorize Poe. I got off easy in comparison, though. I only had to memorize "Annabel Lee!"

  4. I remember memorizing that poem in school too! Enjoy your weekend!

  5. yikes - that's a lot of memorization - how old were you?

    I always feel like giggling when I hear or read the word "tintinnabulation"

  6. You had to memorize that? I'm impressed!

  7. I LOVE your strawberries!!! I'm going to save the photo and use it for my wallpaper. Do you know that I've had your picture of the daffodils sitting on the window ledge overlooking your yard as my wallpaper for years?! :)

  8. You had to memorize that??? wow...I'm very impressed. Are those strawberries from a local market?? They look yummy!!!!!!!!!!

    Are you a vegetarian??? I think I remember reading somewhere that you and your hubby both are. If so would you mind if I ask you some questions??? I'm currently reading 'The Kind Diet' by Alicia Silverstone and have found myself at age 41 horrified at how animals are slaughtered and what I'm putting into my body...I don't know anyone personally who is vegan and was just curious about a few things.

  9. That is one long poem. I can't believe you had to memorize it.

  10. This poem brought to mind the song "Three Bells" - can't remember who recorded it - maybe The Browns?

    Those are the most delicious looking strawberries I've ever seen!

  11. Such great poetry!
    I just love your strawberry you mind if I use it as my desktop? I can't wait for our strawberries to ripen here:)

  12. Goodness! I hadn't read that one before. One can almost imagine Poe pouring that out in a mad torrential frenzy of words.

  13. Me, too, Pamela. He really runs the gamut of life in this poem, doesn't he?

    Bonnie, that's so great!! I read the following which might interest you:

    'Onomatopoeia is a word that imitates the sound it represents.

    Poe lets us hear the different kinds of sounds made by different types of bells in his famous poem "The Bells." His choice of the right word gives us the right sound when he speaks of "tinkling" sleigh bells; "clanging" fire bells; mellow "chiming" wedding bells; "tolling," "moaning," and "groaning" funeral bells.'

    Sherri, we could be a duo!

    Andi, I think it's because his work is so good to read aloud, and the poems just flow, one word, one phrase to the next.

    Janice, it's a great word, isn't it?! I was either in 6th grade or a bit older. I can picture the classroom and where I stood as I recited it, but not the teacher or what grade it was. :<)

    Erin, I'm so glad you do!

    Jodi, thanks!

    Les, I'm flattered! I change my wallpaper several times a week. :<) Sometimes I use my own photos and sometimes ones I've gotten online of PEI or Britain. I did a blog entry on wallpaper very early on:


    Staci, they are! There is a strawberry farmer many miles away; really too far for me to travel to, but our local co-op gets them throughout the season, and I buy them to eat fresh and freeze for the rest of the year. I love strawberries!

    And yes, we've been vegetarians since 1971 (almost as long as you've been in the world!) and for that reason. I can't even read about what happens to animals. I am not a vegan. I eat milk, butter, and eggs. Email me anytime with your questions. Also, there are recipes on the sidebar if you're interested.

    Lisa, I could (and maybe will one of these days!) offer Polonius' advice to his son Laertes, from Hamlet, too. :>) though I don't remember that as well.

    Alison, I said right out loud, 'oh yeah' when I read your comment. I sure do know that song. What a great connection! Thank you for reminding me of the song. It made me cry as a kid.

    Joanne, of course I don't mind!!

    Morning's Minion, so very well said. Poor old Poe.


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