The bells by Edgar Allan Poe

The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe is a poem believed to have been written in May 1848. The Bells was published in 1849 after Poe’s death.

­Poe had submitted the poem several times before being published. Poe lived in the Bronx, in New York. Poe struggled to come up with a poem, and many thought he might be grieving the loss of his wife. The sounds of bells could be heard from Poe’s cottage, and the thought was they could be the inspiration for the poem.

Poe’s wife Virginia had died a year earlier and it appeared he had writers block caused by grief. Poe had a cottage in Fordham New York; a nearby university was believed to be the source of the ringing bells. The tolling of the bells were pointed out to Poe and in 1848 sat down and wrote The Bells. Irony runs through all of Poe’s works it seems.

His life was irony his Mother died of Tuberculosis, as did his wife Virginia at the age of 25. Poe fixated on death, having no firsthand knowledge of what death was like. Poe speculated on the life and death cycle. Poe knew what life was and could only guess at death. Poe’s work seemed to in some form or fashion swirl around dying.

The Bells written after his wife’s death, and ironically not published until after his death, showed the cycle of life. Poe obsessed with being buried alive, a phobia. How ironic that everyone thinks you’re dead, and you are the only one that knows you are alive. > From merriment to despair, is how The Bells go. Life is young to the natural progression of life being old. Seasonal changes just as life changes, winter to spring to summer and back again.

The story The Bells written in early spring, made Poe think of new life or recent death. Poe starts out liking the ringing and clamor, but things change like seasons. Like life to death, it all ends up the same. It is a sequence of feelings, like an old favorite chair then one day replaced for a new one, or discarded for a vacant spot. No rhyme or reason, it was the chair’s time to go. The Bells build in tempo, a friendly relationship with the bells at first. Then the bells stir memories that bring misery.

Did Poe have a fear of the ringing ending or fear that it would not end?

Readers can experience the frenzy, the snapping of the pencil lead as Poe’s troubled memories flow onto the page. Edgar Allen Poe by today’s standard did not earn a substantial amount from writing. Poe knew that when he was gone he would be missed.­


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