Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe

The Bells

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 over sprinkle
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 an 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 a 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 clamor and the clangor 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 menace 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,
A paean from the bells!
And his merry bosom swells
With the paean of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the paean 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.
--Edgar Allan Poe

You can tell that I'm both slowing down and working harder by the fact that I've been missing more and more days lately. I'm behind on my Manga (I try to get 2 books done each month, but I took about a week off at Thanksgiving, and now I have to do about twice as much per day to get back on schedule. I'm tutoring 3 students a total of 6 hours a week plus prep time and commuting (about 15-20 minutes each way). I've also been hired by a dentist to spend a couple of hours each week teaching her how to use her computer. I also have my weekly trip down to Huntington Beach and Therapy up in Santa Monica. They're both wonderful, but they take time and energy which I'm rapidly running out of since I'm getting less and less sleep at night. Something's gonna give soon, I just don't know what or how long I can keep it up. I hope I can juggle it all till the end of the month at least.

Anyway, enough complaining, let's talk about the poem. I've posted it today because the first stanza brings Christmas to mind. The poem progresses from there, each stanza growing longer and more depressing. Many people say it's about the stages of life (Childhoood, Marriage, Adulthood, and Death), or the four seasons. You can certainly make a case for that, but it's not representative of everybody's life, and paints a pretty bleak picture.

What strikes me the most about this poem is the repetition. Not many poems just repeat the same word seven times in a row. Yet it's appropriate because each bell generally has only one note that it sounds over and over as it rings. That monotony can be either comforting or maddening.

I like bells -- especially jingle bells. They're a major theme among my Christmas ornaments, and there are some I have up all year long. I like to wear them as jewelry and jingle my way through the day (though I learned long ago that they need to be very small--like earrings--or muffled so they don't drive everybody else crazy).

That's all I can think of to say today. Sorry it's not very coherent.


  1. Have you read Connie Willis's Doomsday Book? I suggested it for the Relief Society book club and they said it sounded good, so supposedly we're doing it for January (I'm still wondering how many people are actually going to read it). I must think of things to discuss about it. Anyway, it has a lot of bells in it.

    Good luck! Hang in there!

  2. I love the poem, thanks for posting. However it is Edgar Allan Poem not Allen. The middle name was a last name at one point...hence the "an" instead of "en".

    Don't mean to pick tho'. Keep posting. :-)

  3. Oops....Edgar Allan Poe..not poem. It's been a long day.