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The Bells

The Bells


by Edgar Allan Poe

Stanza 2 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 15-16

Hear the mellow wedding bells
Golden bells!

  • At the beginning of the second section, we meet a new kind of bell. This one's a golden wedding bell.
  • The feeling is still happy, and the sound of the bells is "mellow." No hyper-ness here. These bells are more calm, relaxed, and smooth.
  • (Never heard any wedding bells? Click here.)

Line 17

What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!

  • To the speaker, these bells sound like a prophecy of good times and harmony. The word "harmony" seems important, since these are wedding bells. These bells predict a happy marriage.
  • The mood is happy, like it was in the first section, but maybe there's something a little more grounded and calm and serious about the joyful sound of these golden bells.

Lines 18-19

Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!

  • The sound of the bells rings through the "balmy" (warm) air of the night.
  • All these lines are soothing and joyous, filled with "delight." The speaker is filling our heads with sounds and rhythms, but he's also definitely building a mood here.

Line 20

From the molten-golden notes,

  • Here's another great description of the smooth, flowing sound of these bells. The speaker describes the notes as "molten," which usually describes hot, melted metal. (Think of molten lava oozing down the side a volcano, or molten chocolate pouring out of the center of your rich chocolate cake.) We can almost see the notes rolling and glowing and pouring out from the bells.
  • The kind of metal that the bells are made out of is deeply symbolic, and what could be a better symbol of harmony and beauty and calm than gold? Gold is also often the color of wedding bands.

Lines 21-22

And all in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats

  • Of course these beautiful notes are also "all in tune." This echoes the "harmony" the speaker mentioned in line 17. This molten golden music makes a "liquid ditty" that floats on the air.
  • The words the speaker picks are, as always, super-important. The idea that the music is "liquid" underlines the easy, smooth-flowing feel that runs through this section. Calling the music a "ditty" maintains the sense of lightness and joy.

Lines 23-24

To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!

  • Apparently this music is floating up to a turtle-dove who is listening to the bells.
  • The turtle-dove is an old symbol of love and faithfulness. That makes her a good fit for this section of the poem, which is all about marriage and harmony.
  • Apparently this dove also "gloats/ On the moon." This is an old fashioned way of saying that she's looking at the moon with love and satisfaction (not gloating in a negative way, like we tend to think of it today).

Line 25

Oh, from out the sounding cells,

  • We love Poe, but sometimes he goes a little crazy with the vocabulary. It's part of his charm, really. Don't worry, we'll help you out: the sound is coming from the echoing insides of the bells ("the sounding cells").

Line 26

What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!

  • The music of the bells comes out in a "gush" (notice how this word connects to the music being "molten" in line 20 and "liquid" in line 22).
  • The speaker describes the sound as "a gush of euphony." Euphony means pleasant, harmonious sound, which really fits the themes in this section.
  • The sound also flows out "voluminously," which basically just means there's a lot of it. (Think of a large volume of something.)
  • The rich, round sound of these words picks up the mellow tones of the golden bells.

Lines 27-28

How it swells!
How it dwells

  • The sound of the music "swells" and "dwells." In the next line, we learn that the music is dwelling on the future. But the sound of these lines is just as important as the meaning of the words. Poe is playing with words here, enjoying this rhyme, letting these words fly out like musical notes.

Lines 29-30

On the Future! how it tells
Of the rapture that impels

  • The speaker of the poem seems obsessed with the idea that these bells have a message for us about the future.
  • In lines 3 and 17, he told us about how the ringing of bells "foretells" what is about to come. Here he comes back to that idea, and lets us know that the bells are telling us about the "rapture" that will come in "The Future."
  • Since these golden bells are wedding bells, we're getting the feeling that the music is predicting a happy marriage.

Lines 31-34

To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells--

  • If you thought the narrator went overboard with the repetition at the end of the last section, get a load of this. Here he uses the word bells ten times in just three lines.
  • Now, when you're ringing bells to celebrate a wedding, you would ring them a lot, just like this. The clangs would pile up in just this way.
  • Still, we think there's something a little kooky about this repetition.

Line 35

To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

  • Just like in the first section, we finish on a calm, cheerful note, listening to the "rhyming and the chiming" of the bells. Like in the rest of this section, the mood is upbeat and the speaker emphasizes harmony and happiness.

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