Edgar Allan Poe – Misunderstood

Some claim that Edgar Allan Poe’s writings are too excessively morose for the consumption of youth. They postulate that his style is over killed in darkness and gloom, too much so to be involved in the education of adolescents. This is simply not true. While some of writings are questionably baroque, valuable lessons can be reaped from each one.

His poetry possesses great beauty and exposes his poetic genius that proves applicable for all aspiring students to gain insight and knowledge. The value of studying Poe’s works can be proven through observation of his use of figurative expression, patterned repetition, and symbolism in his poem “The Bells”. First, Poe’s employment of figurative expression provides readers with a beautifully vivid painting by the poem’s end. This poem contains rich, excellent examples of onomatopoeia. For example, in lines five and six, “How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, / In the icy air of night!” This provides readers with an almost audible exemplification of the tintinnabulation of the bells. Later in the poem, the melody changes from a serene, relaxed rhythm, to a frantic, alarming rhythm.

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In lines fifty-four and fifty-five it states, “How they clang and crash and roar!/ What a horror they outpour”. Poe also uses quite descriptive examples of personification. For example, “In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire/ In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire.” (44-45). His reference to the bells being at “the mercy of the fire” provides readers with a deep description of the fires power (44).

Such a minute collection of words, somehow when collaborated by a poetic genius, sings an eloquent song like no other. Clearly, the poetic genius Poe possesses can be seen in his use of figurative expression, a skill that should be meditated on by all. Next, Poe must be studied for students to appreciate and learn from his use of patterned repetition. Poe masterfully intertwines repetitive series of “bells, bells, bells, bells, bells” (12). In the beginning of the poem this pattern is almost like a lullaby, soothing and relaxing to the ear.

This is exemplified in lines nine through twelve, “Keeping time, time, time/ In a sort of Runic rhyme/ To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells/ From the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells.” This form of repetition is soothing and calming, like the soft beating of a drum. In contrast, later into the poem, the repetition becomes more ominous. It begins to sound like a pounding gong, becoming more and more explosive until it reaches a musical climax, like an earthquake to the senses, each repetition striking the brain until the reader cannot possibly endure it any longer. The skill that Poe uses in the mastery of this technique is uncanny- it simply proves that he is a poetic genius who should be studied by all seeking an education.

Finally, Poe’s skill necessitates study for his masterful display of symbolism and imagery. After reading this work, it can be deduced that the poem itself is symbolic of life. It begins with, “Silver bells!/ What a world of merriment their melody foretells!” (2-3). This represents the beginning of life and childhood, which reads with an airy, cheerful voice. After that come the golden bells, the best part of life- marriage.

“Hear the mellow wedding bells/ Golden bells/ What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!” (15-17). The rhythm of this portion is more fast paced and upbeat that the first, but still holding on to the joy and pleasure of childhood. Next, “Hear the loud alarum bells/ Brazen bells!/ What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!/ In the startled ear of night/ How they scream out their affright!/ Too much horrified to speak/ They can only shriek, shriek” (36-43). These franticly crazed bells scream of the horrific approach of death. They announce the presence of old age. Finally, the arrival of the iron bells bring with them death and the end of the poem.

They are vividly described by Poe in lines seventy through seventy-seven, “Hear the tolling of the bells/ Iron bells!/ What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!/ In the silence of the night/ How we shiver with affright/ At the melancholy menace of their tone!/ For every sound that floats/ From the rust within their throat/ Is a groan.” Iron is a strong metal; with the melody it produces, it drags the soul from life to death. The amazing parallel exposed in this poem, could only be created by a master of poetic design, only by Edgar Allan Poe. Through observation of Poe’s use of figurative expression, patterned repetition, and symbolism in his poem, “The Bells”, it can be concluded that he is a poetic master with extremely rare skill that all people should be exposed to in their academic career. First, Poe applies exemplary use of figurative expression, epitomized in onomatopoeia and personification. Next, the implementation of patterned repetition provides the likeness of a symphony to the mind.

Finally, the symbolism throughout this poem is remarkable, only attainable though great skill and talent. Edgar Allan Poe’s writing ability far exceeds that of today’s generation. The age of great writers is passed; no modern poet could ever come near to the skill and exquisite beauty of Poe. Though he is dead, he lives on as this generation learns to appreciate his skill and mastery: Long live Edgar Allan Poe.