Peter Bell

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Robert Southey (1774—1843) poet and reviewer

Peter Bell the Third

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792—1822) poet


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A poem by Wordsworth, published with a dedication to Southey 1819.

Peter Bell is a potter, a lawless, roving man, insensible to the beauty of nature. Coming to the edge of the Swale he sees a solitary ass and hopes to steal it. The ass is gazing into the water at some object, which turns out to be the dead body of its owner. After a series of supernatural events Peter mounts the ass, which eventually leads him to the cottage of the drowned man's widow. Peter's spiritual and supernatural experiences on this ride make him a reformed man. The ludicrous nature of part of the poem made it the subject of many parodies, including Shelley's Peter Bell The Third.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

William Wordsworth (1770—1850) poet

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