Edgar Allan Poe — “The Bells”


Reading and Reference Texts:

Reading copy:

  • “The Bells” — reading copy


Historical Texts:

Manuscripts and Authorized Printings:

  • Text-01 — “The Bells” — about May 1848 — manuscript of short text, lost and not recorded (although the text is presumably much like that recorded in text-02) — (Mabbott text A) (the writing of this manuscript is described by Mrs. Shew, later Mrs. Houghton, in a letter of January 23, 1875 to John H. Ingram)
  • Text-02 — “The Bells” — about May 1848 — “Shew” manuscript — (Mabbott text B)  (currently at the U. of Texas at Austin)  (This is Mabbott’s copy-text of this early version)
  • Text-03 — “The Bells” — about June 1848 — “Sartain-A” manuscript, lost but printed in Sartain’s Union Magazine for December 1849 — (Mabbott text C) (This is Mabbott’s copy-text of this revised version)  (According to Sartain’s Union Magazine, and John Sartain’s own recollections, this manuscript was sent about six months before the longer, revised version. That longer version was sent in a letter dated February 9, 1849.)
  • Text-04 — “The Bells” — about January 1849 — “Sartain-B” manuscript of long text, lost and not recorded — (Mabbott text D)  (This manuscript was sent to Sartain’s Union Magazine with a letter dated February 9, 1849. That letter refers to the poem as “about the length of my ‘Raven’ ” and notes the difficulty in typography caused by the “the length of some of the lines, & their peculiar arrangement.”)
  • Text-05 — “The Bells” — about January-April 1849 — “Richmond” manuscript — (Mabbott text E)  (This is Mabbott’s copy-text for the first 99 lines, including all but about the final third of the 4th stanza) A final draft of this version was printed in the November issue of Sartain’s Union Magazine, although there are some minor differences. This draft manuscript is currently at the Morgan Pierpont Library in New York, and is almost certainly the manuscript which was owned by Annie Richmond. It has often been identified as the manuscript that was sent to Sartain’s Union Magazine, but that is clearly an error. Poe made a fair copy from this draft, and sent that instead, and that manuscript does not appear to have survived. (For the fully detailed argument, see Savoye, “Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells,” Poe Studies, 2012, 45:108-109.) (Given by Poe to Annie Richmond in 1848; sold at auction by Libbie & Co. of Boston, February 3-5, 1892, item 1154 for $230 to William Nelson (1847-1914), of Patterson, NJ (presumably from Annie Richmond herself, and not from the collection of Rev. Thomas Raffles, as suggested by the title of the auction); sold by Stan V. Henkles (Philadelphia, PA) on May 7, 1903, item 957 to George H. Rigby, a bookdealer of Philadelphia, PA, for $2,100 from the collection of William Nelson; purchased prior to 1915 by the Morgan Library, for $3,700) (The manuscript was somewhat damaged by fire while in the collection of William Nelson. On February 8, 1902, a fire began in a trolley car shed, which spread and eventually consumed 459 buildings, including the Free Public Library. A number of Nelson’s materials were destroyed while many of the most important items survived in a safe, but were still affected by the extreme heat.)
  • Text-06 — “The Bells” — about April 1849 — “Sartain-C” manuscript — (This is the version printed in the November issue of Sartain’s Union Magazine. There are some minor differences in the version printed in Sartain’s Union Magazine from Text-05, probably made by Poe in copying a clean draft. According to Sartain’s Union Magazine this manuscript was sent “about three months later,” and John Sartain’s own recollections related that it was a “a month or so later” that the revised manuscript was sent. This manuscript has not survived, but is presumably reflected in Text-07.)
  • Text-07 — “The Bells” — November 1849 — Sartain’s Union Magazine — (Mabbott text G) (Although the month of issue is November, it was available as early as mid-October, and is mentioned by the Richmond Semi-Weekly Examiner for October 19, 1849) (This is Mabbott’s copy-text for the remaining lines of the 4th stanza) (printed form of Text 06)  (Although printed in November, it reflects the poem as it was revised about April 1849. It is unclear if differences between the manuscript and the actual printing are editorial or authorial, but Poe did stop to see Sartain in Philadelphia in June of 1849 on his way south to Richmond, but there is no clear statement in Sartain’s recollections that Poe looked at the poem or discussed any changes in it at this time.) (For Griswold’s reprint of this version in Works, see under reprints, below.)
  • Text-08 — “The Bells” — about September 1849 — Richmond Examiner proof sheets — (Mabbott text F) (Although text-07 was printed later than this text would have been, it presumably reflects a revised form as it was prepared after Poe submitted the manuscript to Sartain’s Union Magazine.)



Both “Annabel Lee” and “The Bells” were alternately given the status of “Poe’s last poem,” although the last poem actually composed was probably either “Annabel Lee” or “Sonnet to My Mother.”

  • “The Bells” — October 18, 1849 — Evening Mirror (New York)
  • “The Bells” — October 17, 1849 — New York Daily Tribune (reprinted from “G”)
  • “The Bells” — October 20, 1849 — New York Weekly Tribune (reprinted from “G”)
  • “The Bells” — October 20, 1849 — Daily Mercury, New Bedford, MA (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — October 20, 1849 — Neale’s Saturday Gazette, Philadelphia, PA (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — October 21, 1849 — Nantucket Inquirer, Nantucket, MA (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — October 24, 1849 — The National Aegis, Worcester, MA (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — October 26, 1849 — Weekly Mercury, New Bedford, MA (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine, and repeated from the Daily Mercury)
  • “The Bells” — October 27, 1849 — Home Journal — (Mabbott text H)  (reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine. Mabbott considers this an authorized reprint, but the issue of Sartain’s Union Magazine would not even have appeared until after Poe’s death, and although he might have written to Willis to request such a reprint, it seems unlikely that he would have sent a full manuscript of the poem. It should also be noted that no such letter is indicated in Willis’s article on Poe in the October 20, 1849 issue of the Home Journal, which would seem to be an odd omission. This printing also neglects the italics noted in the manuscript but left out of the text as it appears in Sartain’s Union Magazine, as well as repeating the revised spelling of “tintinnabulation,” spelled with one fewer “n” in Poe’s manuscript, as well as a few errors in reading, such as “Yet” for “Yes” in line 61. These minor issues further suggesting a reprint of that text.)
  • “The Bells” — October 27, 1849 — M’Makin’s Model American Courier, formerly called the Saturday Courier  (Apparently reprinted from “G”) (Not in H&C. Noted for sale by a dealer in 1995.)
  • “The Tolling Bells” — October 27, 1849 — Portland Transcript (Portland, ME) (acknowledged as reprinted from Union Magazine, and “BY EDGAR A. POE.”) (This reprint, giving only the final stanza of the poem, may be seen as a kind of statement of obituary for the recently deceased author)
  • “The Bells” — October 27, 1849 — Literary World (acknowledged as reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine, and “BY EDGAR A. POE.”)
  • “The Bells” — October 27, 1849 — Daily Cincinnati Gazette, Cincinnati, OH
  • “The Bells” — October 27, 1849 — American Cabinet and Boston Athenaeum, Boston, MA (noted as by Edgar A. Poe) vol. III, no. 17, p. 4
  • “The Bells” — October 30, 1849 — Savannah Republican, Savannah, GA
  • “The Bells” — October 31, 1849 — Dollar Newspaper (not in H&C. Noted in 1992 “The Poe Catalogue,” of the 19th Century Bookshop, p. 92.)
  • “The Bells” — October 31, 1849 — Massachusetts Spy, Worcester, MA  (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • The Bells” — November 1849 — Southern Literary Messenger
  • “The Bells” — November 1849 — Aurora Borealis (Boston)  (This unauthorized reprint from Sartain’s mistakenly prints “alarm” for “alarum” in the third stanza.)
  • “The Bells” — November 1849 — Wellman’s Literary Miscellany, Detroit, MI
  • “The Bells” — November 1, 1849 — Massachusetts Cataract, Temperance Standard, and Dew Drop, Worcester, MA (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — November 1, 1849 — Cambridge Chronicle, Cambridge, MA (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — November 2, 1849 — Jamestown Journal, Jamestown, NY (Reprinted from the Home Journal)
  • “The Bells” — November 2, 1849 — Richmond Enquirer, Richmond, VA
  • “The Bells” — November 3, 1849 — Gem of the Prairie, Chicago, IL
  • “The Bells” — November 3, 1849 — Gazette of the Union, Golden Rule (vol. XI, no. 18, p. 279, col.s 2-3) (stated as “Poe’s Last Poem,” probably reprinted from Sartain’s Magazine, the November issue having been briefly noticed in the previous issue of the Gazette.)
  • “The Bells” — November 3, 1849 — Christian Register (Unitarian), Boston, MA
  • “The Bells” — November 3, 1849 — Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — November 3, 1849 — Boston Cultivator, Boston, MA (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — November 3, 1849 — Hartford Weekly Times, Hartford, CT (Reprinted from the Home Journal)
  • “The Bells” — November 3, 1849 — Providence Journal, Providence, RI (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — November 3, 1849 — Boston Cultivator, Boston, MA (probably reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine) (printed as “BY EDGAR A. POE. — HIS LAST POEM.”)
  • “The Bells” — November 7, 1849 — Cist’s Weekly Advertiser, Cincinnati, OH (owned by L. J. Cist, who briefly corresponded with Poe)
  • “The Bells” — November 8, 1849 — Independent, New York, NY  (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — November 8, 1849 — Pennsylvania Freeman, Philadelphia, PA (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — November 10, 1849 — Saturday Evening Post, Philadelphia, PA (acknowledged as reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine) (printed as “BY EDGAR A. POE.” and with the following introductory note: “We consider the following even a more extraordinary and original poem than ‘The Raven.’ The chime of the bells rings and swells through its carefully chosen words and artfully contrived lines and periods. It is a fine exercise for those who wish to perfect themselves in reading — while no one but Mrs. Kemble, perhaps, could read it as it ought to be read. — Editor Sat. Eve. Post.”)
  • “The Bells” — November 10, 1849 — Pittsburgh Saturday Visiter, Pittsburgh, PA
  • “The Bells” — November 11, 1849 — The Weekly Independent, Aberdeen, MS
  • “The Bells” — November 12, 1849 — Brooklyn Daily Eagle, New York, NY (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — November 14, 1849 — Oquawka Spectator, Oquawka, IL
  • “The Bells” — November 14, 1849 — Peoria Democratic Press, Peoria, IL (Reprinted from the Home Journal)
  • “The Bells” — November 17, 1849 — Flag of Our Union, Boston, MA (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — November 17, 1849 — Warsaw Signal, Warsaw, IL (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — November 17, 1849 — Examiner, Louisville, KY, p. 4 (acknowledged as “From the Union Magazine for October [[November]].”)
  • “The Bells” — November 24, 1849 — Littel’s Living Age (acknowledged as reprinted “From the Union Magazine for November”)
  • “The Bells” — November 26, 1849 — Indiana State Weekly Journal, Indianapolis, IN  (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — November 28, 1849 — Scioto Journal, Chillicothe, OH (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — November 29, 1849 — Vermont Watchman and State Journal, Montpelier, VT, front page (acknowledged as “From Sartain’s Union Magazine.”)
  • “The Bells” — December 1, 1849 — Boston Weekly Museum and Literary Portfolio, Boston, MA
  • “The Bells” — December 7, 1849 — Mobile Daily Advertiser, Mobile, AL (Reprinted from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — December 22, 1849 — Ottawa Free Trader, Ottowa, IL (“Poe’s Last Poem. [The Union Magazine for November contains the following remarkable poem by the late Edgar A. Poe. We do not know of a fugitive piece in the English language that will be likely to be more generally read. Its rhytmical harmony is perfect, and its tone throughout, fit and sustained.]”)
  • The Bells” — 1850 — WORKS — Griswold reprints Text 07  (Mabbott text J)
  • “The Bells” — January 26, 1850 — New England Washingtonian, Boston, MA  (Reprints the long and short versions, both from Sartain’s Union Magazine)
  • “The Bells” — November 3, 1850 — The Gem of the Prairie, Chicago, IL
  • “The Bells” — 1851 — The Literary Reader, For Academics and High Schools  (one of the earliest school books to include Poe.)
  • “The Bells” — 1852 — The String of Diamonds, Gathered from Many Mines, by “A Gem Fancier.” (copyright is 1851. It also includes “The Raven,” and many poems by other poets.)
  • “The Bells” — January 1853 — The National Magazine  (illustrated, pp. 73-74)
  • “The Bells” — April 16, 1853 — Littel’s Living Age (also with a reprint of “The Haunted Palace”)
  • “The Bells” — March 13, 1854 — Perrysburg Journal, Perrysburg, OH, vol. 1, no. 52, p. 5, col. 3
  • “The Bells” — May 11, 1854 — Fayetteville Observer, Fayetteville, TN, front page (acknowledged as “Poe’s Last Poem.”)
  • “The Bells” — 1858 — The Poetry of the Bells, collected by Samuel Batchelder, Jr., Cambridge: Riverside Press, pp. 34-39  (This attractive collection of poetry about bells includes poems by Longfellow, J. R. Lowell, Mrs. Hemans, Tennyson and others, and was “printed in aid of the Cambridge Chime.”)
  • “The Bells” — 1859 — The Poets of the West, London: Sampson Low, Son & Co. (The subtitle reads: “A Selection of Favorite American Poems with memoirs of their authors.” This poem is the only one by Poe included, on pp. 103-104.)
  • “The Bells” — 1859 — Lovell’s Progressive Readers, No. 5, New Haven: Peck, White and Peck  (The subtitle reads: “A Class Book for the use of Advanced Pupils in Public and Private Schools. It is edited by John E. Lovell. The copyright date is also 1859, suggesting that this was the first edition.)
  • “The Bells” — 1865 — Golden Leaves from the American Poets, collected by John W. S. Hows, New York: Bunce and Huntington  (This a common collection of popular poems includes works by Poe, Emerson, Longfellow, J. R. Lowell, F. S. Key, Whittier, and others.)
  • The Bells” — 1875 — The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol 3: Poems  and Essays, ed. J. H. Ingram, Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black (3:6-9)
  • “The Bells” — January 1891 — New England Magazine (Boston, MA), vol. 9, no. 5, pp. 578-582 (elaborately illustrated by William Jackson Leonard (1869-1936), who studied at the Cowles Art school in Boston and was later an instructor of fine arts at West Virginia University) (This printing follows an article on “Bells” by E. H. Goss, accompanied by several other poems touching the subject of bells.)
  • “The Bells” — January 17, 1909 — Morning Oregonian (p. 7) (this item is noted by George Monteiro, “Fugitive Reprints,” E. A. Poe Review, Fall 2010, p. 162.)
  • and many others


Scholarly and Noteworthy Reprints:

  • The Bells” — 1894-1895 — The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 10: Poems, ed. E. C. Stedman and G. E. Woodberry, Chicago: Stone and Kimball (10:37-40, and pp. 182-186)
  • The Bells” — 1902 — The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 7: Poems, ed. J. A. Harrison, New York: T. Y. Crowell (10:119-122, and 10:222-224)
  • The Bells” — 1911 — The Complete Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. J. H. Whitty, Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co. (pp. 63-66, and pp. 230-235)
  • The Bells” — 1917 — The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Killis Campbell, Boston: Ginn and Company (pp. 122-126, and pp. 278-282)
  • “The Bells” — 1965 — The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Floyd Stovall, Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia (pp. 109-113, and pp. 276-281)  (In his notes, Stovall also prints the full texts of the two shorter forms of the poem)
  • The Bells” — 1969 — The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 1: Poems, ed. T. O. Mabbott, Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (1:429-441)  (Mabbott prints three texts of the poem)
  • “The Bells” — 1984 — Edgar Allan Poe: Poetry and Tales, ed. Patrick F. Quinn (New York: Library of America) (pp. 92-95) (reprints the text from Mabbott, 1969)


Comparative and Study Texts:

Instream Comparative and Study Texts:

  • None


Plain Text Files for Juxta:

  • None


Associated Material and Special versions:

Miscellaneous Texts and Related Items:

  • “Die Glocken” — 1862 — Lieder und Balladenbuch amerikanischer und englischer Dichter der Gegenwart, Hamburg: Hoffman and Campe, pp. 50-54 (translation by Adolf Strodtmann. This entry was provided to the Poe Society by Ton Fafianie, in an e-mail dated October 11, 2018)
  • “Die Glocken” — 1864 — Der Rabe, die Glocken, Lenore, Philadelphia  (German translation)
  • “Les Cloches” — 1876 — Les Cloches, poème de Edgar Poe, Paris: Henry Guérard  (French translation by Émile Blémont)
  • “The Bells” — 1904 — The Bride: Her Book, New Rochelle, NY: C. R. Gibson & Co. (This bridal book, illustrated by Orson Lowell, includes the second stanza of Poe’s poem, bearing Poe’s title and his name as author, but wihtout any indication that it is only an excerpt of the poem.)
  • “The Bells” — March 22, 1936 (pre-empted from March 15, 1936) — a radio show broadcast on the Terror by Night show, starring Orson Welles, Ray Collins and Martha Scott. (As was often the case with dramatic presentations of Poe’s works, the story has been modified.)
  • “The Bells” — 1960 — a reading by Nelson Olmsted on The Raven: Poems and Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, issued on the Vanguard label (VRS-9046, rereleased as VSD-32)
  • “The Oil” — September 1990 — Mad Magazine (a parody of “The Bells,” with the note “with a crude apology to Edgar Allan Poe.”)
  • “Les cloches” — dated 2009, but available in late 2008 — Poèmes d‘Edgar Allan Poe, Paris: Publibook (translation by Jean Hautepierre)



  • Anonymous, “High Prices Paid for Poe Manuscripts,” Black Diamond Express Monthly (Lehigh Valley Railroad), vol. VII, no. 6, June 1903, pp. 17-18
  • Birss, John H., “Emerson and Poe: A Similitude,” Notes & Queries, April 21, 1934, 166:279
  • Cameron, Kenenth, “Poe’s ‘The Bell‘: A Reply to Schiller and Romberg,” Emerson Society Quarterly, 1st Quarter 1965, 38:2-73
  • Cameron, Kenenth, “Poe’s ‘The Bell‘ and Schiller’s ‘Das Lied von der Glocke’,” Emerson Society Quarterly, 2nd Quarter 1960, 19:37
  • Caputi, Anthony, “The Refrain in Poe’s Poetry,” American Literature, May 1953, 25:169-178
  • Cooper, C. B., “Tintinnabulation,” Modern Language Notes, May 1926, 41:318
  • Dedmond, Francis B., “The Word ‘Tintinnabulation‘ and a Source for Poe’s ‘The Bells’,” Notes & Queries, November 24, 1951, 196:520-521
  • Dolson, Eugene C., “A Foote Note on Poe,” New England Magazine, September 1906, 35:79-80
  • DuBoise, Arthur E., “The Jazz Bells of Poe,” College English, December 1940, 2:230-244
  • Dudley, Fred A., “ ‘Tintinnabulation‘: And a Source of Poe’s ‘The Bells’,” American Literature, November 1932, 4:296-300
  • Hearn, Lafcadio, “Poe’s Verse,” Interpretations of Literature, New York: Dood, Mead & Co., 1917, 2:150-166
  • Heartman, Charles F. and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Hattiesburg, MS: The Book Farm, 1943.
  • Hicks, Rev. Lewis Wilder, “Memoirs: William Nelson,” New England Historical and Genealogical Register (Boston, MA), supplement to April 1915, 69:lxvi-lxvii
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, “Poe’s Word ‘Tintinnabulation’,” Notes & Queries, November 26, 1938, 175:387
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, “Writing of Poe’s ‘The Bells’,” American Notes & Queries, October 1942, 2:110
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, ed., The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (Vol 1 Poems), Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969.
  • Savoye, Jeffrey A., “Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells,” Poe Studies, 2012, 45:108-109 (Corrects Mabbott’s double error in stating that Mrs. Richmond did not have a copy of the manuscript, and in assiging text-05 as the draft sent to Sartain’s.)
  • Sartain, John, “Reminiscences of Edgar Allan Poe,” Lippincott’s, 1889, 43:411-415  (Reprinted in Reminiscences of a Very Old Man, 1808-1897, New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1899, pp. 202-205.)
  • Shultz, Heidi, “Edgar Allan Poe Submits ‘The Bells‘ to Sartain’s Magazine,” Resources for American Literary Study, 1996, no. 2, 22:166-181
  • Thompson, G. Richard, “Poe’s Readings of Pelham: Another Source for ‘Tintinnabulation‘ and Other Piquant Expressions,” American Literature, May 1969, 41:251-255
  • Turner, Arlin, “Writing of Poe’s ‘The Bells’,” American Notes & Queries, August 1942, 2:73
  • Turner, Arlin and Thomas Ollive Mabbott, “Two Poe Hoaxes by the Same Hand,” American Notes & Queries, January 1943, 2:147-148
  • Williams Paul O., “A Reading of Poe’s ‘The Bells’,” Poe Newsletter, October 1968, 1:24-25


[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - The Bells