Tree, Lights, Bells


We’re late with the tree this year. Kate and I went out and bought it yesterday from a place on University Avenue run by a San Francisco outfit that tries to help our burgeoning population of ex-convicts stay straight. We didn’t decorate until tonight, though — late tonight.

(And now, it’s tomorrow already. Christmas Eve. On Saturday evening, I turned on an acoustic music show on one of the local FM stations, KALW, and there was a song about bells playing. Kate, hearing the word “tintinnabulation” recognized right away that the lyrics were from Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Bells.” I thought, but didn’t say, that the singer sounded like Phil Ochs. We were both right. The poem and the song start with a lightness not often associated with Poe:

“Hear the sledges with the bells, Silver bells! What a world of merriment their melody foretells! How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, In the icy air of night! While the stars, that oversprinkle All the heavens, seem to twinkle With a crystalline delight; Keeping time, time, time, In a sort of Runic rhyme, To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells From the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bells— From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.”

The poem gets darker as it goes along. The song is on iTunes. I want to say “amazingly, it’s on iTunes, but I guess it’s not so amazing anymore.)

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