Bells are heard everywhere, and can signal all types of things from a wedding to signaling the start of the afternoon. However they are used, bells are used almost everywhere. In Edgar Allan Poe's poem, "The Bells," Edgar writes about four different types of bells: silver bells, wedding bells, brazen bells, and iron bells. All four of those bells are unique in their own way, which Poe describes in each of the stanzas. Going deep into the meanings and descriptions of the bells, as well as some of the emotions Poe is feeling as he is writing about them, which shows the Romanticism aspects to his writing.

Hear the sledges with the bells-
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
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 (Poe).

That is the first stanza of the poem, which has much emotion, and is also appropriate for this time of the year. However, this stanza has many aspects of Romanticism in it, which includes strong and in depth descriptions as well as deep emotion being shown throughout the poem. By the deep descriptions given, the reader can almost imagine they are listening to the bells ring right outside their window, instead of just reading about them. Although this is just a poem, but even still, Edgar goes into great detail to get the setting set up for the reader to be able to visualize the story, which is another aspect of Romanticism: having the setting laid out before the poem really gets going. Like, the reader can clearly tell the story is going to be about bells, just by looking at the title as well as reading the first two lines of the poem. Then, as the reader continues to read, they find out more about how Poe feels about bells, which is mixed emotions, as the reader later finds out. Therefore, the poem "The Bells" does illustrate Romanticism mainly in its aspects of showing emotion, but the poem does have some meaning to Poe when he wrote it.

Outside of Poe's residence, there was a bell tower that he listened to every day. Although the bell tower is no longer there today, those bells influenced Poe's writing, especially his poem, "The Bells," as previously stated (Ljungquist). In addition, because Poe did lead a troubled and difficult life, he wrote his stories and poems to depict that. One analysis of "The Bells" tells of how the bells signal different sounds, which help give the poem more character (Bloom). Also, an interpretation that the reader got, which could be symbolic to Poe's life is that each section could symbolize a stage in Poe's life. The first stanza is when he is born, and a young child, because everything is new. He could even go as far as to say that the child is waiting for Santa, and the sound of sleigh bells, as most children wait in anticipation for the arrival of Santa Claus. The second stanza has symbolism as well, and could clearly signify marriage, as most people get married in their middle twenties, early thirties. The third and fourth stanzas go together in this symbolic way, because Poe could be describing getting ill, and eventually dying. Because, around the time Poe wrote this story, his wife, Victoria, had just passed away, and in addition, he had lost his mother to disease. Therefore, he was quite familiar with watching someone he loved and cared about get sick and eventually pass on (Ljungquist). So in the third and fourth stanzas, Poe is talking of getting sick near the end of life and passing on (Poe). However, that is just an analysis by the reader, which could be different from what others might interpret . But, it is one of many possible explanations as well as an idea as to how Poe's life had an effect on his writing.

This poem compares too many of his other works, as he talks about the stages of life in many of his stories and poems. In addition, many people seem to die or get sick in his poems and stories, but that could also be because of his history and the life he lived. His writing styles seem to stay the same with all of his works, as he never seems to stray from the "creepy" side of his writing, but that also has to do with the fact that he wrote during the Romanticism period. Therefore, not many differences were noticed in his writings, but many similarities were because of his unique and quite different writing style that he had (Ljungquist).

Poe's poem "The Bells" was an interesting poem that definitely provoked thinking, because of the complexity behind the bells themselves. Sure, bells are just bells, but the meaning behind why the bells were ringing, or the reason the poem was split into four parts led into some thinking and analysis. The poem was fun to read, along with being fairly straightforward. However, it was when the reader had to look deeper into the meaning behind the poem when things got even more interesting. "The Bells" displays Romanticism as well as provides some insight into Poe's life, as the readers can tell why Poe wrote the works he did by his past during the Romanticism period.

Works Cited:





  • Ljungquist, Kent. "Poe, Edgar Allan." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2010. Web. 9 Dec. 2010.

  • Poe, Edgar Allan. The Bells. 1849. World Book Advanced. Web. 9 Dec. 2010.