Ringing the Bells

"Ringing the Bells" is the third song of David Conte's song cycle Sexton Songs. The cycle is for soprano and piano or chamber ensemble and sets the poetry of Anne Sexton.

The audio selection features Marnie Breckenridge, soprano, and Ensemble Parallele with Nicole Paiement, conductor. Used with the permission of the composer.

Date: 2004Composer: David ConteText: Anne SextonSong Collection: Sexton Songs

Print vitals & song text


Ringing the Bells
by Anne Sexton

And this is the way they ring
ttthe bells in Bedlam
ttand this is the bell-lady
ttwho comes each Tuesday morning
ttto give us a music lesson
ttand because the attendants make you go
ttand because we mind by instinct,
ttlike bees caught in the wrong hive,
ttwe are the circle of the crazy ladies
ttwho sit in the lounge of the mental house,

ttand smile at the smiling woman
ttwho passes us each a bell,
ttwho points at my hand
ttthat holds my bell, E flat,
ttand this is the gray dress next to me
ttwho grumbles as if it were special
ttto be old, to be old,
ttand this is the small hunched squirrel girl
tton the other side of me
ttwho picks at the hairs over her lip,
ttwho picks at the hairs over her lip all day,
ttand this is how the bells really sound,
ttas untroubled and clean
ttas a workable kitchen,
ttand this is always my bell responding
ttto my hand that responds to the lady
ttwho points at me, E flat;
ttand although we are no better for it,
ttthey tell you to go. And you do.



    Sheet Music

    Sexton Songs (all versions)

    Composer(s): David Conte

    Song(s): 1. Rowing
    2. Her Kind
    3. Ringing the Bells
    4. Riding the Elevator into the Sky
    5. Us

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

    Support us and help us grow

    Dear friends, Thank you for helping us build a comprehensive online archive of American song. Your gift is greatly appreciated.