Text: John S. Hart, “‘The Bells’ and ‘Annabel Lee’,” New York Daily Tribune (New York, NY), vol. XXXV, whole no. 10,805, November 17, 1875, p. 5, col. 2


[page 5, column 2, continued:]



To the Editor of The Tribune.

SIR: Mr. Fairfield in his letter on the chronological order of Mr. Poe’s writings, makes one slight mistake, which it may be well to correct, as the subject is undergoing a careful scrutiny, and especially as there is a curious piece of unwritten history connected with one of these poems. Mr. Fairfield says “The Bells” and “Annabel Lee” were printed prior to 1847. “The Bells” was first published in the November number of Sartain’s Magazine, for 1849, of which periodical I was the editor. The poem, when first left with me for publication, some time in June or July of that year, consisted of only two short stanzas, as follows:


The bells! — hear the bells!

The merry wedding bells!

[[The little silver bells!]]

How fairy-like a melody there swells

From the silver tinkling cells

Of the bells, bells, bells!

Of the bells!


The bells! — ah, the bells!

The heavy iron bells!

Hear the tolling of the bells!

Hear the knells!

How horrible a monody there floats

From their throats —

From their deep-toned throats!

How I shudder at the notes

From the melancholy throats

Of the bells, bells, bells!

Of the bells!

This was the entire poem in its original form, as first offered to Sartain’s Magazine. It was accepted in that form and put in type, but before its appearance the author enlarged it to nearly its present size and form, and again, before its actual publication, he sent us a second version in the form in which it finally appeared.

The poem of “Annabel Lee” was also sent to me for publication in Sartain’s Magazine in the latter part of 1849. It was in type ready for publication, but before its appearance in the magazine the author died, whereupon Mr. Griswold, who was Poe’s literary administrator, and who probably found a copy of the poem among Poe’s manuscripts, forthwith published the piece in one of the New-York papers — THE TRIBUNE, I believe. The poem as thus put forth by Mr. Griswold, appears to have been from Poe’s first draft. The copy which was sold to Sartain’s Magazine, and which appeared in that magazine in January 1850, contained several alterations and improvements by the author, and in this form the poem has found its permanent place in our literature.


Philadelphia, Oct. 18, 1875




John Seely Hart (1810-1877) was an educator and a Presbyterian minister, who served as an editor of Sartain’s Magazine 1849-1851. The present letter essentially repeats information that accompanied the printing of both poems, respectively in the December 1849 and January 1850 issues.

Either Hart, in copying the text, or the typesetter, preparing the text for publication, has omitted the third line of the poem, supplied here in double square brackets from the original printing in Sartain’s.


[S:0 - NYDT, November 17, 1875] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - The Bells and Annabel Lee (John Seely Hart, 1875)