Tag Archives: Edgar Allan Poe

J6- In the Shadow of the Bells

  Poetry and I have something of a love-hate relationship. I enjoy reading the poetic works of literary greats such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edgar Allan Poe, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Writing my own poems is also a pastime that I love and that provides a way for me to express emotion. The trouble comes when I read my own work; it doesn’t quite meet the expectations I’ve mentally set for myself. I may not have a gift for lining up words in the most appealing fashion, and my poetic endeavors might not quite measure up to the literary finesse of my favorite authors, but I can still relish the enrapturing art of said authors. Such as one of my favorites of Poe’s poems, The Bells.

I know it’s a long one, but bear with me.

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 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 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, 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.

If that failed to move you, then you indeed must have no heart. Poe, the master of manipulation, uses onomatopoeia, repetition, and beautifully flowing meter to mesmerize and captivate the audience.  Ok, so I don’t exactly rise to the standard set by such artists of words; but hey, a girl can dream, right?