I

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.

II

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!

III

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!

IV

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,
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.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edgar Allan Poe's poem The Bells

21 Comments

  1. Ameera says:

    bells for jhon whitesid”s daughter by ransom > it focuses on the metaphors ,similies dramatic situations ,irony and the theme of the poem .it also provides a thesis that the poem depicts death from the perspective of mourners who know that death will come to all humans beings.

  2. Jacinta says:

    John McPhilips from Azerbaijan, you need to 1)either make sense or explain yourself and 2) get over it, it’s a poem not a person. Leave him to his world view.

    I would like to add that each stanza could represent a season.
    The first (childhood) Spring, the time of birth and renewal. Also hope and all happy and good feelings.
    The second summer, ‘balmy air of night’ supports this as summer air can be balmy. Also summer is the hottest part of the year, and being married in those days would allow a lot more sexual learning/activity than they would have been allowed before.
    Next comes Autumn, the time before everything dies. Okay not the best argument, but I’m lacking there.
    Finally winter or death. Winter is the time many things die, nights are longer and the cold (potentially frost) is no friend and killed it’s fair share of animals, plants and humans in those years.
    That’s just what I noticed while doing ‘nature appreciation in poetry’ and in a dark mood.

  3. John McPhilips says:

    This poem was the biggest pain in my ass since world war 2. This guy needs to stop being so damn depressed and get a life.

  4. madha says:

    I like this poem but its a tuff one im in the fifth grade and my teachers making us analyze it. I think its explaining the stages of life.

  5. Roxxy says:

    What do the bells do? Not what they mean but what they do. I was asked that and I got stuck at the Iron bells. I find this stanza a hard one to interpret.

  6. Mitze says:

    I really enjoy reading Poe’s work. A teacher introduced Edgar Allan Poe to me in 8th grade. I have read “The tale tell heart” and “The Raven”. I do have a difficult time analzying his work though. It is just hard for me to figure out what he is trying to say. But reading The bells over and over just made me jump to a conclusion that this is all a bio. of his life…

  7. Jake says:

    i didnt understand this poem it made no sence and it doesnt sound at all like any of his other work like the tell tale heart like it just doesnt have any meaning or hororr

    dum poem!

  8. Andrew says:

    THIS IS THE BEST POEM EVER

  9. catherine says:

    The bells is way that poe try to expain the way of life to others.The joy,happiness,delight,warmth.Which is explain in the first section as you read.The section wedding which everyone will like to do some day.The third is the araum of the his wife sickness which was very bad for him.I think that the fourth is the death of his wife which hurt him a lot.please read the poem and tell your meaning of it.

  10. Taylor says:

    I saw someone post that this poem sounded like a song. Well it is a song! Someone wrote a song using the first part of this poem and I’m singing it in my choir. It’s a really pretty song and the words fit so well!

  11. Marsha Brady says:

    allritteyy folks.
    so whiless i was reading this beautiful poem, i ran across a few words that i could not understand so i decided to loook ’em up and then i saw this site and decided to help ya’lls out too:
    Euphony- a pleasing or sweet sound
    Rapture- an expression or manifestation of ecstasy or passion
    Impels- to urge or drive forward or on by or as if by the exertion of strong moral pressure
    Brazen- made of brass
    Expostulation- an act or instance of demanding or disputing
    Palpitating- to beat rapidly and strongly; throb
    Clamor- a loud continuous noise
    Monody- an ode sung by one voice
    Melancholy- depression of spirits
    Ghouls- a legendary evil being that robs graves and feeds on corpses
    Paean- a joyous song or hymn of praise, tribute, thanksgiving, or triumph

    theress ya’lls go.
    love ya’lls

  12. matt wthitaker says:

    if ur looking at the comments below u may not quite understand what is going on. let me try to explain; the bells is a poe’s way of wruting a biography. look, the bells is broken into four sections. the first is the bells of Christams. this holliday is the celebration of the birth of Christ. so simply put, it is the birth of poe. the second section is that of a wedding. very happy. this is the time in poe’s life where he got fell in love with and married his cousin virginia. the next section is that of a disaster or a tradjedy. virginia devolped a fatal disease. the last section is of death. this is the simbolism of the death of his wife, which was truely the death of him. not litterally, but in every other way.

    …..so read it agian and u’ll see what im talking about. its poe’s biography. the man was a genuis. dont agree or have questions? e-mail me!

    ….matt (im a sophmore in high school, but dont let that scare u away)

  13. bk says:

    To quote Ernest, “For whom the bell tolls”… The tolling of the bells is an old way of showing respect for someone who has recently died. I’m not sure, but in some places it is still done at 3:00 PM. Poe did a brilliant job of demonstrating the strange duality of a positive thing in the ringing of the bells and the negative side of its meaning. Poe had an interesting way of stating the odvious when he goes from “yes, yes, yes!” To “No,No,No” in this awesome poem. Perhaps his dealings with death tainted his views on life, but regardless, he seemed to enjoy pointing out the strange duality of mankind and its customs. Goodtimes,indeed.

  14. J. Cpriano says:

    This is an incredibly amazing poem. Parts of it (Sections I and II) are cheerful, quite unlike the style of Poe. Then, it takes a creepy and lightly disturbing turn in the last part (Sections III and IV). Very unusual format for a poem…but, being written by Edgar Allen Poe, I should not be surprised!

  15. jacque says:

    this poem is so beautiful. i play the bells. i love how it sounds like a song!my favorite poem, other than mine of course. they are on poetry.com, jacque hood

  16. Marchelle says:

    Hi, I was wondering could someone mail me like a broken-down, paraphrased version of “The Bells”. Because I’m totally lost in all of it. 🙂 😉
    Thanks, Me

  17. gangsterd says:

    hey people this poem is so annoying i had to hear it 3 times in school and i got tired of it man i wanted to just throw my book at the teacher but it is a good poem but to many BELLS

  18. John says:

    Edgar Allan Poe… he is in a class of his own. One cannot compare him to any other or any other to him for that matter. Some do not realized what a demented, sick, drucken, lonley man he was though. To under stand his poems who have to take in to account what he was feeling when he wrote it. I know some think that this is impossible but it is not. When Edgar Allan Poe wrote most of his poems he was feeling somesort of emotion which would be clearly expressed through his poems.

  19. Dani DeSandro says:

    i LOVE Edgar Allan Poe’s stories and poems. he has such a way with his words. I WUV U EDGAR AWWAN POE!!!!!

  20. dinkus says:

    This poem has an awesome ryth+. it is genius in its repition beacause each line a h

  21. amaranthblue says:

    This has to be one of my favorite poems from Edgar, Yhe sing song litany has such a hypnotic quality it tickles the soul with it’s repeating melody… I like to read it fast so it flows along effortlessly always making me smile… Edgar Allen Poe IMHO was one of the most gifted poets that has ever lived…

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