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Bell Poems

Table of Contents

  1. Bells by Sara Teasdale
  2. The Village Bells by Eugene J. Hall
  3. The Song of the Bells by Jean Blewett
  4. The Bells of Shandon by Francis Sylvester Mahony (Father Prout)
  5. The Bells of San Blas by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  6. The Three Bells of Glasgow by John Greenleaf Whittier
  7. The Church Bell by Lydia Sigourney
  8. Sabbath Bells by L. B. L.
  9. How still the Bells in Steeples stand by Emily Dickinson
  10. Song of the School Bell by John Edward Everett
  11. Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  12. Hesperian Bells by Mary Baird Finch
  13. The Cow-Bells by John Trowbridge
  14. The Message of the Liberty Bell by Mrs. Elvira Robinson
  15. The Bell of Freedom by Julia May Williamson
  16. Liberty Bell by J. P. Dunn
  17. The Liberty Bell by E. S. Brooks
  18. Victory Bells by Grace Conkling
  19. For Whom the Bell Tolls by John Donne
  20. A Peal of Bells by Christina Rossetti

  1. Bells

    by Sara Teasdale

    At six o'clock of an autumn dusk
    With the sky in the west a rusty red,
    The bells of the mission down in the valley
    Cry out that the day is dead.

    The first star pricks as sharp as steel—
    Why am I suddenly so cold?
    Three bells, each with a separate sound
    Clang in the valley, wearily tolled.

    Bells in Venice, bells at sea,
    Bells in the valley heavy and slow—
    There is no place over the crowded world
    Where I can forget that the days go.

  2. The Village Bells

    by Eugene J. Hall

    Once more, once more, my native shore
    In beauty greets my gaze:
    Again I walk the cottage floor,
    To dream of bygone days.
    The leaves are bright with silver light,
    And through the evening air
    Once more I hear the village bells,
    That sound the hour of prayer.
    Tolling, rolling,
    Twanging, clanging,
    At the close of day;
    O'er hill and hollow sounding,
    From rock to rock rebounding,
    Their echoes die away.

    O cheerful chimes of better times!
    I'm growing old and gray,
    My feet, through other lands and climes,
    Have wandered far away;
    I gladly hear your carols clear
    In many a joyous strain;
    You come like music to my ear
    To greet me home again.
    Tolling, rolling,
    Twanging, clanging,
    At the close of day;
    O'er hill and hollow sounding,
    From rock to rock rebounding,
    Your echoes die away.

  3. The Song of the Bells

    by Jean Blewett

    He frowned and shook his snowy head.
    "Those clanging bells! they deafen quite
    "With their unmeaning song," he said.
    "I'm weary of it all to-night—
    The gladness, sadness. I'm so old
    I have no sympathy to spare,
    My heart has grown so hard and cold,
    So full of self, I do not care
    How many laugh, or long, or grieve
    In all the world this Christmas eve.

    "There was a time long, long ago—
    They take our best, the passing years—
    For the old life, and faith, and glow.
    I'd give—what's on my cheek? Not tears!
    I have a whim. To-night I'll spend
    Till eyes turn on me gratefully—
    An old man's whim, just to pretend
    That he is what he used to be;
    For this one night, not want nor pain
    Shall look to me for help in vain."

    "A foolish whim!" he muttered oft,
    The while he gave to those in need,
    But strangely warm and strangely soft
    His old face grew, for self and greed
    Slipped from him. Ah, it made him glow
    To hear the blessing, thanks, the prayer.
    He looked into his heart, and lo!
    The old-time faith and love were there.
    "Ring out, old bells, right gladly ring!"
    He said, "Full sweet the song you sing."

  4. The Bells of Shandon

    Francis Sylvester Mahony (Father Prout)

    With deep affection
    And recollection,
    I often think of
    The Shandon bells,
    Whose sounds so wild would
    In days of childhood
    Fling round my cradle
    Their magic spells.
    On this I ponder,
    Where’er I wander,
    And thus grow fonder,
    Sweet Cork, of thee;
    With thy bells of Shandon,
    That sound so grand on
    The pleasant waters
    Of the river Lee.

    I ’ve heard bells chiming
    Full many a clime in,
    Tolling sublime in,
    Cathedral shrine,
    While at a glib rate
    Brass tongues would vibrate;
    But all their music
    Spoke naught like thine;
    For memory, dwelling
    On each proud swelling
    Of thy belfry, knelling
    Its bold notes free,
    Made the bells of Shandon
    Sound far more grand on
    The pleasant waters
    Of the river Lee.

    I ’ve heard bells tolling
    Old Adrian’s Mole in,
    Their thunder rolling
    From the Vatican;
    And cymbals glorious
    Swinging uproarious
    In the gorgeous turrets
    Of Notre Dame:
    But thy sounds were sweeter
    Than the dome of Peter
    Flings o’er the Tiber,
    Pealing solemnly.
    O, the bells of Shandon
    Sound far more grand on
    The pleasant waters
    Of the river Lee!

    There ’s a bell in Moscow;
    While on tower and kiosk O
    In St. Sophia
    The Turkman gets,
    And loud in air
    Calls men to prayer,
    From the tapering summits
    Of tall minarets.
    Such empty phantom
    I freely grant them;
    But there ’s an anthem
    More dear to me,&mdash
    ’T is the bells of Shandon,
    That sound so grand on
    The pleasant waters
    Of the river Lee.

  5. The Bells of San Blas

    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    What say the Bells of San Blas
    To the ships that southward pass
    From the harbor of Mazatlan?
    To them it is nothing more
    Than the sound of surf on the shore,—
    Nothing more to master or man.

    But to me, a dreamer of dreams,
    To whom what is and what seems
    Are often one and the same,—
    The Bells of San Blas to me
    Have a strange, wild melody,
    And are something more than a name.

    For bells are the voice of the church;
    They have tones that touch and search
    The hearts of young and old;
    One sound to all, yet each
    Lends a meaning to their speech,
    And the meaning is manifold.

    They are a voice of the Past,
    Of an age that is fading fast,
    Of a power austere and grand;
    When the flag of Spain unfurled
    Its folds o'er this western world,
    And the Priest was lord of the land.

    The chapel that once looked down
    On the little seaport town
    Has crumbled into the dust;
    And on oaken beams below
    The bells swing to and fro,
    And are green with mould and rust.

    "Is, then, the old faith dead,"
    They say, "and in its stead
    Is some new faith proclaimed,
    That we are forced to remain
    Naked to sun and rain,
    Unsheltered and ashamed?

    "Once in our tower aloof
    We rang over wall and roof
    Our warnings and our complaints;
    And round about us there
    The white doves filled the air,
    Like the white souls of the saints.

    "The saints! Ah, have they grown
    Forgetful of their own?
    Are they asleep, or dead,
    That open to the sky
    Their ruined Missions lie,
    No longer tenanted?

    "Oh, bring us back once more
    The vanished days of yore,
    When the world with faith was filled;
    Bring back the fervid zeal,
    The hearts of fire and steel,
    The hands that believe and build.

    "Then from our tower again
    We will send over land and main
    Our voices of command,
    Like exiled kings who return
    To their thrones, and the people learn
    That the Priest is lord of the land!"

    O Bells of San Blas, in vain
    Ye call back the Past again!
    The Past is deaf to your prayer;
    Out of the shadows of night
    The world rolls into light;
    It is daybreak everywhere.

  6. The Three Bells of Glasgow

    by John Greenleaf Whittier

    Beneath the low-hung night cloud
    That raked her splintering mast
    The good ship settled slowly,
    The cruel leak gained fast.

    Over the awful ocean
    Her signal guns pealed out.
    Dear God! was that Thy answer
    From the horror round about?

    A voice came down the wild wind,
    "Ho! ship ahoy!" its cry:
    "Our stout _Three Bells_ of Glasgow
    Shall stand till daylight by!"

    Hour after hour crept slowly,
    Yet on the heaving swells
    Tossed up and down the ship-lights,
    The lights of the _Three Bells_!

    And ship to ship made signals,
    Man answered back to man,
    While oft, to cheer and hearten,
    The _Three Bells_ nearer ran:

    And the captain from her taffrail
    Sent down his hopeful cry.
    "Take heart! Hold on!" he shouted,
    "The _Three Bells_ shall stand by!"

    All night across the waters
    The tossing lights shone clear;
    All night from reeling taffrail
    The _Three Bells_ sent her cheer.

    And when the dreary watches
    Of storm and darkness passed,
    Just as the wreck lurched under,
    All souls were saved at last.

    Sail on, _Three Bells_, forever,
    In grateful memory sail!
    Ring on, _Three Bells_ of rescue,
    Above the wave and gale!

    Type of the Love eternal,
    Repeat the Master's cry,
    As tossing through our darkness
    The lights of God draw nigh!

  7. The Church Bell

    by Lydia Howard Sigourney

    When glowing in the eastern sky,
    The Sabbath morning meets the eye,
    And o'er a weary, care-worn scene,
    Gleams like the ark-dove's leaf of green,
    How welcome over hill and dale,
    Thy hallow'd summons loads the gale,
    Sweet bell! Church bell!

    When earthly joys and sorrows end,
    And towards our long repose we tend,
    How mournfully thy tone doth call
    The weepers to the funeral,
    And to the last abode of clay,
    With solemn knell mark out the way,
    Sad bell! Church bell!

    If to the clime where pleasures reign,
    We through a Saviour's love attain,
    If freshly to an angel's thought,
    Earth's unforgotten scenes are brought,
    Will not thy voice, that warn'd to prayer,
    Be gratefully remember'd there,
    Bless'd bell? Church bell?

  8. Sabbath Bells

    by L. B. L.

    Sweet sabbath bells! so loud and clear!
    Pealing o'er valley and o'er hill!
    What heavenly music to mine ear!
    They seem to say, "Why linger still?
    Come to God's temple while ye may,
    And prayer will steal your griefs away!

    "Haste to God's temple! there to raise
    The song warm springing from the heart-
    The incense of your grateful praise,
    In, which all Christians bear a part.
    Hear our glad summons, and obey!
    The angels join ye as ye pray!

    "Come to that holy, solemn place,
    Where peace and soul-felt comfort dwell;
    The home of each celestial grace,
    Where mercy's beams all clouds dispel!
    Haste to God's temple while ye may!
    The angels join the meek who pray!"

  9. How still the bells in steeples stand

    by Emily Dickinson

    How still the bells in steeples stand,
    Till, swollen with the sky,
    They leap upon their silver feet
    In frantic melody!

  10. Song of the School Bell

    by John Edward Everett

    Kind neighbors, you and I are friends.
    And toiling for the selfsame ends,
    To help the children wiser grow,
    And teach them what they ought to know.

    Day after day, the winter through,
    I guard your sons and daughters true.
    Each day at nine I say, "hello",
    To the youthful world of joy and woe.
    Each day at nine are loudly sung
    Clear greetings from my iron tongue,
    While children rush with romp and race,
    As though to meet my fond embrace.
    Then through the hours they ply the mind
    To see what knowledge they may find—
    Sometimes with smile and radiant eye,
    Sometimes with frown and inward sigh.
    'Tis now with bright, now downcast, looks
    They bend their heads above their books.

    Kind neighbors, you and I are friends.
    And toiling for the selfsame ends,—
    To help the children wiser grow,
    And teach them what they ought to know.

  11. Christmas Bells

    By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    I heard the bells on Christmas Day
    Their old, familiar carols play,
    And wild and sweet
    The words repeat
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,
    The belfries of all Christendom
    Had rolled along
    The unbroken song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,
    The world revolved from night to day,
    A voice, a chime,
    A chant sublime
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth
    The cannon thundered in the South,
    And with the sound
    The carols drowned
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent
    The hearth-stones of a continent,
    And made forlorn
    The households born
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;
    “There is no peace on earth," I said;
    “For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
    “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
    With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

  12. Hesperian Bells

    By Mary Baird Finch

    Blow, westerly winds, from over the sea,
    Where the golden gates and the mountains be.

    Bring me a chime of the natal song
    From the new-born isles as ye pass along.

    And a sea-wrought spray from the walls of pearl,
    Where dolphins dream and the sea-winds whirl.

    Tell me if th' flow'rs of th' deep e'er wither,
    And say if our dead are calling us thither.

    Can'st tell of th' shoals where ships went down,
    And the sea-weed twined its wreaths of brown?

    Heard'st thou the song of a captive maiden,
    In choral halls of the fair menhaden?

    Pray tell me true if the ship's last bells
    Are wailing yet in the moaning shells?

    Or if 'tis the song of Silence laid
    Deep in the heart when the hps are stayed?

    Thus the world goes by and ne'er shall know
    That a silent song has stirred me so.

    Blow, westerly wind, we heed our own,
    Like chanting bells in your peaceful tone.

    Soul of the spirit from billows away,
    Teach me the song of the sea to-day.

  13. The Bell of Freedom

    By Julia May Williamson

    Ring, wondrous bell, the solemn peal
    That once rang loud and long!
    Thine is the only speaking tongue
    Of all the gathered throng
    That stood in firmest fearlessness,
    And sealed for weal or woe,
    Another nation's honest birth,
    One hundred years ago.

    Where are they? Solemn is the hush,
    Our one reply can be;
    The dust of years is on their graves
    Who made our country free.
    Yet still across our strengthened land
    The gales of Freedom blow—
    We loved those men who filled her ranks,
    One hundred years ago.

    And in the years that came and fled,
    Since Freedom raised her shield,
    Her arm was strong, her flag waved high,
    On many a battle-field;
    'Tis true sometimes her foes have dragged
    The noble ensign low,
    Forgetting those who fought for her,
    One hundred years ago.

    'Tis true the dust that folds their graves
    Has gathered on some hearts,
    For trait'rous thoughts creep through the door
    Whence honesty departs;
    Yet still in all the years gone by,
    Some hearts have felt the glow
    That fired the land where Freedom led,
    One hundred years ago.

    Then ring, thou mighty bell! and wake
    The long forgotten strain;
    Pour out the deathless Freedom song,
    To fire men's hearts again;
    And down the ages that shall come,
    Still may thy music flow,
    And Freedom reign, whose throne was raised,
    One hundred years ago.

  14. Liberty Bell

    by J. P. Dunn

    Ring on, ring on sweet Liberty Bell
    For peace on earth, good will to men.
    A story true, ye kindly tell,
    From Bunker Hill down to Argonne.

    Ring on, ring on sweet Liberty Bell
    In every clime where freedom dwells
    Your sweetest strains and imparting knells
    On New Year's eve was heard again.

    Ring on, ring on sweet Liberty Bell
    Peal after peal, your music swell
    Beneath the blue the white and red
    That waves so proudly today o'er the living
    And so sacredly o'er the dead.

  15. The Liberty Bell

    by E. S. Brooks


    Squarely prim and stoutly built,
    Free from glitter and from gilt,
    Plain,—from lintel up to roof-tree and to belfry bare and brown—

    Stands the Hall that hot July,—
    While the folk throng anxious by,—
    Where the Continental Congress meets withinthe Quaker town.

    Hark! a stir, a sudden shout,
    And a boy comes rushing out,
    Signaling to where his grandsire in the belfry, waiting, stands;—

    “Ring!” he cries; “the deed is done!
    Ring! they’ve signed, and freedom’s won!”
    And the ringer grasps the bell-rope with his strong and sturdy hands;

    While the bell, with joyous note
    Clanging from its brazen throat,
    Rings the tidings, all-exultant,—peals the news to shore and sea:

    “Man is man—a slave no longer;
    Truth and Right than Might are stronger,
    Praise to God! We’re free; we’re free!”

  16. The Cow-Bells

    by John Trowbridge

    One—in the distance, when the star came out
    Over the dark green woods upon the hill-
    One bell's low tinkle, and the farmer's shout,
    While in the pauses sang the whip-poor-will.

    Two, three, and more. She's coming now; but wait!
    She stops. There's clover in yon tufts of fern.
    Lightfoot! Coo-coo! Come down; the milking's late.
    Robert, run up beyond the lane's quick turn.

    Two little arms stretch out to clasp a cup
    Of gentle Lightfoot's milk. "Come down, Coo-coo!
    The farmer, tired with haying, wants to sup."
    Hark! on the silent air the bell peals out anew.

    There's silence now. She's at the hillside spring,
    Drinking with liquid, vacant eyes, her fill;
    While upward flits on dreamy, bat-like wing
    The somber, brooding, plaintive whip-poor-will.

    Coo-coo! she's coming; hear her lulling bell!
    Or does the farmer strike his empty glass
    With pewter spoon. Perhaps in yonder dell
    The bell is drowned amid the meadow's grass.

    She's in her yard at last; the bell is still,
    And she has done her peaceful work. Ah! me,
    What if some higher spirits wait to fill
    Their earthly longings from humanity!

  17. The Message of the Liberty Bell

    by Mrs. Elvira Robinson

     Full Text

    Around the congress with closed door
    Thousands of anxious people pour
    To wait till all suspense be o'er.

    And still above the bellman waits
    The slow decision of the fates,
    While fears depress and hope elates.

    "Passed, it has passed," at length they cry,
    Ten thousand glad mouths make reply,
    And send the echoes to the sky.

    "Ring! ring!" exclaims the watching boy;
    The bell responds with notes of joy.
    Freedom's proclaim its sweet employ.

    Loud and more loud the proud notes swell,
    The people's shouts responding well,
    All o'er the land the glad news tell.

    From sea to sea, from pole to pole,
    The echoes of that bell shall roll,
    Till freedom comes to every soul.

  18. Victory Bells

    by Grace Hazard Conkling

    (November 11, 1918)

    I heard the bells across the trees,
    I heard them ride the plunging breeze
    Above the roofs from tower and spire.
    And they were leaping like a fire,
    And they were shining like a stream
    With sun to make its music gleam.
    Deep tones as though the thunder tolled,
    Cool voices thin as tinkling gold,
    They shook the spangled autumn down
    From out the tree-tops of the town;
    They left great furrows in the air
    And made a clangor everywhere
    As of metallic wings. They flew
    Aloft in spirals to the blue
    Tall tent of heaven and disappeared.
    And others, swift as though they feared
    The people might not heed their cry
    Went shouting VICTORY up the sky.
    They did not say that war is done,
    Only that glory has begun
    Like sunrise, and the coming day
    Will burn the clouds of war away.
    There will be time for dreams again,
    And home-coming for weary men.

  19. For Whom the Bell Tolls

    by John Donne

    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself,
    Every man is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thy friend's
    Or of thine own were:
    Any man's death diminishes me,
    Because I am involved in mankind,
    And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
    It tolls for thee.

  20. A Peal of Bells

    by Christina Rossetti

    Strike the bells wantonly,
    Tinkle tinkle well;
    Bring me wine, bring me flowers,
    Ring the silver bell.
    All my lamps burn scented oil,
    Hung on laden orange-trees,
    Whose shadowed foliage is the foil
    To golden lamps and oranges.
    Heap my golden plates with fruit,
    Golden fruit, fresh-plucked and ripe;
    Strike the bells and breathe the pipe;
    Shut out showers from summer hours;
    Silence that complaining lute;
    Shut out thinking, shut out pain,
    From hours that cannot come again.

    Strike the bells solemnly,
    Ding dong deep:
    My friend is passing to his bed,
    Fast asleep;
    There's plaited linen round his head,
    While foremost go his feet,—
    His feet that cannot carry him.
    My feast's a show, my lights are dim;
    Be still, your music is not sweet,—
    There is no music more for him:
    His lights are out, his feast is done;
    His bowl that sparkled to the brim
    Is drained, is broken, cannot hold;
    My blood is chill, his blood is cold;
    His death is full, and mine begun.

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