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Analysis

Silver Bells

Symbol Analysis

Silver bells, silver bells, it's Christmas time in the city. Ring-a-ling, hear them ring, soon it will be Christmas day….

Hark! how the bells, sweet silver bells, all seem to say, "Throw cares away."

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…

Oh, sorry, silver bells just get us in the mood for lighthearted Christmas caroling. Silver bells are the first of four different kinds we'll encounter in the poem. Each one of these bells is made out of a different metal, and each metal is an important symbol that helps to tie the poem together. Silver is precious, shiny, and jingly, and it's associated with a cheerful mood in the first section of the poem.

  • Line 2: Here's where we first meet the silver bells, as they jingle on a sleigh. It's definitely a cheerful image. Not just for Poe, either. Think of all the Christmas carols that mention silver bells ("Carol of the Bells," "Sleigh Ride," "Silver Bells"), or "The Polar Express," where a silver bell plays an important role. It's kind of weird to find Poe, who's usually so darn dark and dreary, hanging out in such cheerful territory.
  • Line 11: Poe pulls out all the stops to make us really hear the sound of those silver bells. His use of the word "tintinnabulation" might be his most impressive bit of poetic kung fu. This is onomatopoeia (a word that sounds like what it means) to the max. Can't you just hear the happy tinkling jingle of those silver bells when you say "tintinnabulation" aloud? Note to self: use this word all the time.
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