Tag Archives: Edgar Allan Poe

The Bells

Bells. Edmund Dulac. 1912.


The Bells

Edgar Allan Poe, 1849


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 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 pæan from the bells;

     And his merry bosom swells

With the pæan from the bells,

     And he dances, and he yells:

     Keeping time, time, time,

     In a sort of Rhunic rhyme,

To the pæan of the bells,

     Of the bells:

Keeping time, time, time,

In a sort of Rhunic 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 Rhunic 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.


This poem by Poe, published after his death, is one of my own favorites by the American poet. The lines are full of repetition, onomatopoeia, and alliteration that contribute to the masterful rhythm.

To My Mother

Portrait of Madame Charles Pierre Pecoul nee Potain, Mother in Law of the Artist. Jacques-Louis David. 1784.


To My Mother

Edgar Allen Poe, 1849


Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,

The angels, whispering to one another,

Can find, among their burning terms of love,

None so devotional as that of “Mother,”

Therefore by that dear name I long have called you—

You who are more than mother unto me,

And fill my heart of hearts, where death installed you,

In setting my Virginia’s spirit free,

My mother—my own mother, who dies early,

Was but the mother of myself; but you

Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,

And thus are dearer than the mother I knew

By that infinity with which my wife

Was dearer to my soul than it soul-life.


This beautiful poem is addressed by Poe to his mother-in-law, the mother of his young wife Virginia Clemm. Virginia died of consumption at the age of twenty-four.


The Mountain Ford. Thomas Cole. 1846.



Edgar Allan Poe, 1849


Gaily bedight,

A gallant knight,

In sunshine and in shadow,

Had journeyed long,

Singing a song,

In search of Eldorado


But he grew old—

This knight so bold—

And o’er his heart a shadow

Fell as he found

No spot of ground

That looked like Eldorado.


And, as his strength

Failed him at length,

He met a pilgrim shadow—

“Shadow,” said he,

“Where can it be—

This land of Eldorado?”


“Over the mountains

Of the Moon,

Down the Valley of the Shadow,

Ride, boldly ride,”

The shade replied—

“If you seek for Eldorado!”


A Fine Picture—Some have found this the most mysterious painting by Cole. A lone figure in Renaissance dress rides through Adirondack scenery. Possibly, the painting had great significance for Cole, who was readying himself for his most ambitious project. A few months before he painted The Mountain Ford, Cole described himself as “one who, traveling through a desert, comes to a deep stream… and fears to venture in the rushing waters. But I am about to venture.” This “deep stream” was the zealous (but ultimately unrealized) dream of completing a five-part religious cycle called “The Cross and the World.” It was to contrast the life journeys of a Christian and of a worldly man.

A Little Poetry—”Eldorado” was one of Poe’s last poems. It was published on April 21, 1849, during the time of the California Gold Rush. Interestingly, Poe uses the word ‘shadow’ in each of the stanzas, and they each have a different meaning: absence of sunlight, despair, ghost, and death.