by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Dedication
Death

Prologue

 Peter Bells, one, two and three, O'er the wide world wandering be.- First, the antenatal Peter, Wrapped in weeds of the same metre, The so-long-predestined raiment Clothed in which to walk his way meant The second Peter; whose ambition Is to link the proposition, As the mean of two extremes- (This was learned from Aldric's themes)[1] Shielding from the guilt of schism The orthodoxal syllogism; The First Peter-he who was Like the shadow in the glass Of the second, yet unripe, His substantial antitype.- 
 Then came Peter Bell the Second, Who henceforward must be reckoned The body of a double soul, And that portion of the whole Without which the rest would seem Ends of a disjointed dream.- And the Third is he who has O'er the grave been forced to pass To the other side, which is,- Go and try else,-just like this. 
 Peter Bell the First was Peter Smugger, milder, softer, neater, Like the soul before it is Born from THAT world into THIS. The next Peter Bell was he, Predevote, like you and me, To good or evil as may come; His was the severer doom,- For he was an evil Cotter, And a polygamic Potter.[2] And the last is Peter Bell, Damned since our first parents fell, Damned eternally to Hell- Surely he deserves it well! 
[1]

Aldric's → i.e. Aldrich's-a spelling adopted here by Woodberry.

[2]

The oldest scholiasts read- A dodecagamic Potter.

This is at once more descriptive and more megalophonous,-but the alliteration of the text had captivated the vulgar ear of the herd of later commentators.-Shelley