Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VII. Descriptive: Narrative
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VII. Descriptive: Narrative.  1904.
Descriptive Poems: II. Nature and Art
The Bells
Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849)
    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!        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!
    O, 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 the 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
      O 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
      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.

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