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This chapter opens with a discussion of the composition, publishing, and reception histories of Peter Bell and The Waggoner, poems dating from the late 1790s and early 1800s but not published until 1819. In a reading of Peter Bell, the chapter reflects on the representation of violence and on the poem’s attempts to negotiate the terms of a peaceable relationship between the human and the non-human. In the discussion of The Waggoner, the focus turns to the poem’s meditation on creative failure, artistic isolation, and the potential for cooperative living in the aftermath of war. Picking up on the conative entanglement of human and non-human entities addressed in Peter Bell, the chapter concludes with a consideration of how Benjamin’s waggon works like a peaceable commonwealth to realise the potential of its component parts in ways that advance the well-being of the whole.
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