Verse > Anthologies > Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. > Yale Book of American Verse
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse.  1912.
 
Edgar Allan Poe. 1809–1849
 
88. 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!         5
    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,  10
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,  15
          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,  20
          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,  25
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells! 
          How it swells! 
          How it dwells 
      On the Future! how it tells 
      Of the rapture that impels  30
    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!  35
  
    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!  40
      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,  45
      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.  50
      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  55
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;  60
    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,  65
          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,  70
          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!  75
    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,  80
          All alone, 
  And who tolling, tolling, tolling, 
    In that muffled monotone, 
  Feel a glory in so rolling 
    On the human heart a stone—  85
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,  90
        Rolls 
    A pæan from the bells; 
  And his merry bosom swells 
    With the pæan of the bells, 
  And he dances, and he yells:  95
  Keeping time, time, time, 
  In a sort of Runic rhyme, 
    To the pæan of the bells, 
        Of the bells: 
  Keeping time, time, time, 100
  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, 105
    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, 110
  Of the bells, bells, bells, bells, 
        Bells, bells, bells— 
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells. 
 
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
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