Text: Edgar Allan Poe (and Marie L. Shew), “The Bells” (Text-02), undated manuscript, about May 1848


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The Bells

By Mrs. M. L. Shew.

The bells! — ah, the bells!

The little silver bells!

How fairy-like a melody there floats

From their throats. —

From their merry little throats —

From the silver, tinkling throats

Of the bells, bells, bells —

Of the bells!

 

The bells! — ah, the bells!

The heavy iron bells!

How horrible a monody there floats

From their throats —

From their deep-toned throats —

From their melancholy throats!

How I shudder at the notes

Of the bells, bells, bells —

Of the bells!

 


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Notes:

This manuscript is assigned as “by Mrs. M. L. Shew” because she suggested the idea to Poe. In the lost “first” manuscript, she apparently wrote the first line of each stanza, which Poe then finished. The entire manuscript is in Poe’s hand. It was first printed by John H. Ingram, The Poetical Works of Edgar Allan Poe, London: Chandos Classics, 1888 and reprinted by Ingram in his article “Variations in Edgar Poe’s Poetry,” Bibliophile (London), III,  May 1909, pp. 128-136). J. H. Whitty (1911) and Floyd Stovall (1965) both reprint the poem, using Ingram as the source, though Stovall curiously drops the 7th line from the second stanza, making both stanzas 8 lines.

The manuscript was sent by Mrs. Shew to John H. Ingram, and sold at an auction of Ingram’s library in London in 1889. It sold on November 23, 1894 from the collection of Foote at auction for $75 (item 220). It was sold from the collection of Frank J. Hogan of New York on January 23-24, 1945 (lot 566), where it was purchased by William H. Koester. It is now in the Koester Collection at the University of Texas.

 

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[S:1 - MS, 1848] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - The Bells (Text-02)