Edgar Allan Poe — “The Bells”


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Reading and Reference Texts:

Reading copy:

  • “The Bells” — reading copy

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Historical Texts:

Manuscripts and Authorized Printings:

  • Text-01 — “The Bells” — 1848 — manuscript of short text, lost and not recorded — (Mabbott text A)
  • Text-02 — “The Bells”   — May 1848 — 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 — manuscript, lost but printed in Sartain’s for December 1849 — (Mabbott text C) (This is Mabbott’s copy-text of this revised version)  (According to Sartain’s 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 — manuscript of long text, lost and not recorded — (Mabbott text D)  (This manuscript was sent to Sartain’s in 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 — 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, 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. Mabbott is probably in error when he presumes that this manuscript is the one sent to Sartain’s. He refutes the claim that Mrs. Richmond owned such a manuscript, dismissing it as a “confusion of memory” (Poems, 1969, 1:431 n. 7). That she did indeed have the manuscript in her possession, however, seems clear from her own comments. Ingram wrote to Mrs. S. H. Whitman on February 14, 1877: “I have heard several times lately from Mrs. Richmond . . . & the MS. of ‘The Bells,‘ which he [W. F. Gill] announced himself owner of, was only borrowed from Mrs. R.” (see Miller, Poe’s Helen Remembers, p. 474). In his 1877 Life of Edgar Allan Poe (New York: D. Appleton & Co.), William Fearing Gill gave a facsimile of one page from the manuscript of “The Bells” and stated: “The original MSS. of ‘The Bells,‘ in its enlarged form, from which the draft sent to ’sartain’s‘ was made, is in our possession at this time” (p. 207). Whether Gill intended to imply ownership or merely the presence of the manuscript in the material then being used in preparing his book is a matter of interpretation. Mrs. Richmond explained how Gill came to borrow the manuscript in a letter to J. H. Ingram of January 31, 1877: “You have several times mentioned Mr. Gill. . . . At the time he went to Baltimore to attend the Memorial services, he borrowed my manuscript of ‘The Bells,‘ which he said he wished to have that he might read the poem with more effect! Since then I have heard (though not from him) that he was preparing a Memoir that would come out this spring — he very likely has a photographic copy of my manuscript, taken while it was in his posession, but I certainly have the one written by Mr. Poe, which he gave me before it had appeared in print . . .” (see Miller, Building Poe Biography, p. 161). On January 8, 1878 and February 5, 1878 (see Miller, Building Poe Biography, pp. 182-184), Mrs. Richmond wrote to Ingram that she was having the manuscripts photographed for him, specifically naming them as “The Bells” and “[A] Dream with a Dream.” (These manuscripts were mailed to photographer N. C. Sanborn, in Lowell, MA, and were briefly lost but ultimately found among the “dead letters.”) Ingram reproduced these manuscripts, respectively, in the Bibliophile (London), May 1909 and the Bookman (London), January 1909. This chain of evidence pretty clearly establishes the fact that Mrs. Richmond did own a draft manuscript of “The Bells,” and that this manuscript is the one now in the Morgan Library.
  • Text-06 — “The Bells” — about April 1849 — manuscript — (This is the version printed in the November issue of Sartain’s. There are some minor differences in the printed Sartain’s from Text-05, probably made by Poe in copying a clean draft. According to Sartain’s 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 — (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 05)  (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)

 

Reprints:

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)
  • “The Bells” — October 20, 1849 — Neale’s Saturday Gazette, Philadelphia, PA (Reprinted from Sartain’s)
  • “The Bells” — October 21, 1849 — Nantucket Inquirer, Nantucket, MA (Reprinted from Sartain’s)
  • “The Bells” — October 24, 1849 — The National Aegis, Worcester, MA (Reprinted from Sartain’s)
  • “The Bells” — October 26, 1849 — Weekly Mercury, New Bedford, MA (Reprinted from Sartain’s, and repeated from the Daily Mercury)
  • “The Bells” — October 27, 1849 — Home Journal — (Mabbott text H)  (reprinted from Sartain’s. Mabbott considers this an authorized reprint, but the issue of Sartain’s 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, 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 Bells” — October 27, 1849 — Literary World (acknowledged as reprinted from Sartain’s, and “BY EDGAR A. POE.”
  • “The Bells” — October 27, 1849 — Daily Cincinnati Gazette, Cincinnati, OH
  • “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)
  • 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)
  • “The Bells” — November 1, 1849 — Cambridge Chronicle, Cambridge, MA (Reprinted from Sartain’s)
  • “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)
  • “The Bells” — November 3, 1849 — Boston Cultivator, Boston, MA  (Reprinted from Sartain’s)
  • “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)
  • “The Bells” — November 3, 1849 — Boston Cultivator, Boston, MA  (probably reprinted from Sartain’s) (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)
  • “The Bells” — November 8, 1849 — Pennsylvania Freeman, Philadelphia, PA  (Reprinted from Sartain’s)
  • “The Bells” — November 10, 1849 — Saturday Evening Post, Philadelphia, PA  (acknowledged as reprinted from Sartain’s) (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)
  • “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)
  • “The Bells” — November 17, 1849 — Warsaw Signal, Warsaw, IL (Reprinted from Sartain’s)
  • “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)
  • “The Bells” — November 28, 1849 — Scioto Journal, Chillicothe, OH  (Reprinted from Sartain’s)
  • “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)
  • 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)
  • “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” — 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 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. G. E. Woodberry and E. C. Stedman, 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, Patrick F. Quinn (New York: Library of America) (pp. 92-95) (reprints the text from Mabbott, 1969)

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Comparative Texts:

Instream Comparative Texts:

  • None

 

Plain Text Files for Juxta:

  • None

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Associated Material and Special versions:

Miscellaneous Texts and Related Items:

  • “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)

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Bibliography:

  • 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.
  • 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

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