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From the Galleries: Poe's "The Bells"

By Alicia Dietrich

The poems published just after Edgar Allan Poe’s death are among his most popular: “Annabelle Lee” and “The Bells.”

“The Bells” was written with the assistance of Poe’s good friend Loui Shew, whom he visited one evening in 1848, complaining that he lacked inspiration to write a poem. According to one version of the story, she offered the opening line and he completed the first stanza, she offered an opening line for the second stanza, and so on. “The Bells” is a masterpiece of onomatopoeia: the sounds of the words directly reflect the mood evoked by each bell described. This manuscript, which is featured in the Ransom Center’s current exhibition on Poe, shows the poem’s earliest form, which Poe eventually expanded to four stanzas.

You can listen to Charles Keating doing a reading here from The Big Read audio guide CD:

The Bells


Molly Schwartzburg

A tidbit about this (I’m one of the exhibition’s curators): Our wonderful event two weeks ago, hosted by Isaiah Sheffer, included a choreographed reading of this poem by Sheffer and his two guests, René Auberjonois and Fionnula Flanagan. The day after the reading, I took Mr. Auberjonois through the exhibition, and showed him this manuscript. He had been telling me that at the dress rehearsal, he discovered that he had been practicing using a different version of the poem from his two colleagues. He hadn’t realized that Poe was an inveterate reviser, and that the poem is available in many variations online (some here: When he saw the manuscript on display, he did an impromptu performance of this early incarnation, leaning over the case and reading smoothly from Poe’s gorgeous handwritten text.


who did poe base the poem annabelle lee on who’s death

please anwser by tuesday october 27 2009

thenk you

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