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What sound devices does Poe use in his poem "The Bells" besides onomatopoeia,...

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kasumi-chan | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:53 AM via web

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What sound devices does Poe use in his poem "The Bells" besides onomatopoeia, alliteration, rhyme, and repetition?

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted September 30, 2011 at 6:25 AM (Answer #1)

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"The Bells" is a fascinating poem. If it is read aloud correctly, the listener can almost hear bells tolling in the bell tower. I think you've pretty much covered the poetic sound devices with the examples you've listed, but I think I can still help you.

One sound device that Poe uses expertly in this poem is rhythm. Each stanza of the poem is about a different kind of bell, and the rhythm of each stanza seems to fit the way each different bell rings. Just as the sleigh bells of the first stanza constantly "tinkle, tinkle, tinkle," you almost feel as if you have to read the stanza quickly to keep up. If you've ever watched a royal wedding or heard wedding bells tolling, you'll understand how the short lines of the second stanza seem to mimic the musical quality of wedding bells. Click on the link in the sources section and listen to them for yourself.

The rhythm of the third stanza will leave the reader breathless! You feel the urgency of the alarm bells. The final stanza's rhythm conveys the somberness of the solitary tolling bell. Combined with the repetition and alliteration of "bells, bells, bells," again the rhythm lets you hear that bell tolling. It is not the tinkling jingle of the sleigh bells or the happy music of the wedding bells or the urgent call of the alarm bells. It is slow and ponderous. Click on the link to listen to a funeral bell tolling.

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