Study Guide

The Bells Speaker

By Edgar Allan Poe


Unlike in lots of other Poe poems (we're thinking of "The Raven," "Annabel Lee," and "Dream-Land," in particular), speaker of "The Bells" doesn't have a strong presence. We're not finding ourselves wondering "Is this guy even sane? Can we trust him?" Nope, this guy isn't freaky, delusional, or ranting about a lost lover. Actually, he's kind of personality-less. He's not talking to us about himself or speaking in the first-person (there's no "while I pondered, weak and weary" – there's no "I" at all).

Hmm… so what's the deal with this speaker? It's not really clear. We have to dig around and look for clues. Here are a few things we notice:

  • He likes the nighttime. All for sections of the poem take place at night.
  • He pays a lot of attention to small details. How much time do you spend thinking about the sounds and meaning of different bells?
  • He really likes sounds. Notice how he picks up on the subtleties of all sorts of sounds and tries to recreate them with words?
  • He likes sharing sounds with us. Did you notice how, at the beginning of each section he says "Hear the [insert description] bells"? He wants us to join in the experience.

We can't say much more about the guy. Are you able to find any other clues?