October 2, 2018

Poem to Read Aloud: Edgar Allen Poe

Poems to Read Aloud , Resources , Public Speaking , The Buckley Experience

The Buckley School's founder believed that all public speakers should hone their presentation skills by reading poetry out loud. We keep that worthwhile practice alive by including a poem in our magazine each month for you to read aloud.


When we think of Edgar Allen Poe and verse, one word pops to mind—though it certainly doesn’t apply to how we feel about reading his poems out loud. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Despite his death on October 3, 1849, at the young age of 40, Poe made a huge impact on literature—pioneering horror and detective fiction. He is often considered the architect of the modern short story.

His narrative poem “The Raven,” published in 1845, made him famous—and it continues to be one of the most famous poems ever written.

Poe's handwritten draft of "The Bells"

His poem “The Bells” was not published until after his death. We provide Part III for your read aloud practice—and if you are more ambitious, you’ll find the entire poem here.

The Bells

By Edgar Allen Poe 


Hear the loud alarum bells—

                 Brazen bells!

What 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,

                   Out of tune,

In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,

In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,

             Leaping higher, higher, higher,

             With a desperate desire,

         And a resolute endeavor

         Now—now to sit or never,

       By the side of the pale-faced moon.

             Oh, the bells, bells, bells!

             What a tale their terror tells

                   Of Despair!

       How they clang, and clash, and roar!

        What a horror they outpour

On the bosom of the palpitating air!

       Yet the ear it fully knows,

             By the twanging,

             And the clanging,

         How the danger ebbs and flows;

       Yet the ear distinctly tells,

             In the jangling,

             And the wrangling.

       How the danger sinks and swells,

By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells—

             Of the bells—

     Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,

             Bells, bells, bells—

In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!

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