"The Bells" contains the following literary elements; refrain, onomatopoeia, alliteration.
First published simply as "Ballad" in the January 1837 edition of the Southern Literary Messenger, it was later retitled as "Bridal Ballad" when it was printed in the July 31, 1841 edition of the Saturday Evening Post. The poem is unusual for Poe because it is written in the voice of a woman, specifically a recently married bride. Despite her reassurances that she is "happy," the poem has a somber tone as it recounts a previous love who has died. In marrying, she has broken her vow to this previous lover to love him eternally.
Poe biographer Daniel Hoffman says that "Bridal Ballad" is guilty of "one of the most unfortunate rhymes in American poetry this side of Thomas Holley Chivers." He is referring to the name of the bride's dead lover, "D'Elormie," which he calls "patently a forced rhyme" for "o'er me" and "before me" in the previous lines  Aldous Huxley made the same observation, calling the rhyme "ludicrous" and "horribly vulgar."
The poem is one of the few works by Poe to be written in the voice of a woman. See also the humorous tale "A Predicament."
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