Text: Charles W. Kent (notes) Robert A. Stewart (variants) (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Note to The Bells,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. VII: Poems (1902), pp. 222-224


[page 222:]


Page 119.


Text, Sartain’s Union Magazine.

Variations of Home Journal from the text.

I. 7 heavens, (o. c.) 8 crystalline (crystaline) II. 1 bells (bells,) 5 delight! — (!) 15 Future! — (future!) 18 bells — (,) III. 13 endeavour (endeavor) 22 ear, (o. c.) 23 twanging, (o. c.) 27 jangling, (o. c.) IV. 13 who, (p. c.) 19 Ghouls: — (:) 20 tolls: — (;) 21 rolls, (o. c.) 29 bells: — (—) 35 bells: — (; —) 40 bells: — (;).

Variations of Griswold from the text.

II. 1 bells (bells,) 5 delight! — (!) 15 Future! — (!) 18 bells — (,) III. 3 now (now,) 10 fire, (o. c.) 13 endeavour (endeavor) 14 sit, (o. c.) 22 ear, (o. c.) 28 rangling (wrangling) 34 clanging, (clang) IV. 13 who, (o. c.) 19 Ghouls: — (:) 20 tolls: — (;) 29 bells: — (—) 31 time (time,) 35 bells: — (;) 40 bells: — (—) 41 bells — (,) 42 bells, (—).

“The singular poem of Mr. Poe’s, called ‘The Bells,’ which we published in our last number, has been very extensively copied. There is a curious piece of literary history connected with this poem, which we may as well give now as at any other time. It illustrates the gradual development of an idea in the mind of a man of original genius. This poem came into our possession about a year since. It then consisted of eighteen lines! They were as follows: [page 223:]


“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!

“About six months after this we received the poen, enlarged and altered nearly to its present size and form; and about three months since, the author sent another alteration and enlargement, in which condition the poem was left at the time of his death.” — From Sartain’s Union Magazine.

“The original MS. of ‘The Bells,’ in its enlarged form, from which the draft sent to ‘Sartain’s’ was made, is in our possession at this time.

“In the twelfth line of the first stanza of the original draft, the word ‘bells’ was repeated five times, instead of four, as Poe printed it, and but twice in the next line. In changing and obviously improving the effect, he has drawn his pen through the fifth repetition, and added another underlined, to the two of the next line. The same change is made in the corresponding lines in the [page 224:] next stanza. In the sixth line of the third stanza, the word ‘much’ is placed before ‘too’ with the usual mark indicating the transposition which he made in printing it, and, as originally written, the word ‘anger,’ in the fifth line from the last in this stanza, was written ‘clamor,’ while ‘anger’ was placed in the last line. ... In the sixth line of the fourth stanza, the word ‘meaning’ was first used in lieu of the more impressive ‘menace’ to which it gave place. The eighth line of this stanza was first written ‘From out their ghostly throats;’ and the eleventh line was changed twice, reading first, ‘Who live up in the steeple,’ then ‘They that sleep’ was substituted for ‘who live,’ and finally ‘dwell’ was printed instead of ‘sleep.’ After the eighteenth line, a line was added that was elided entirely in the poem as printed. It read, —

“ ‘But are pestilential carcasses departed from their souls.’ ... In making the change, omitting this line, he simply substituted, ‘They are ghouls,’ in the next line, in pencil.” — Gill’s Life of Poe, p. 207.





[S:0 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Note to The Bells)