Poetry and Peeves in Harry Potter

Aeschylus, the Libation Bearers


J. K. Rowling starts the seventh and final volume ‘Deathly Hallows’ in the Harry Potter series with an introductory epigraph from the Greek poet and playwright Aeschylus (525/524 – 456/455 BCE) The Libation Bearers.

Oh, the torment bred in the race,

The grinding scream of death

And the stroke that hits the vein,

The haemorrhage none can staunch, the grief,

The curse no man can bear.


But there is a cure in the house

and not outside it, no,

not from others but from them,

their bloody strife. We sing to you,

dark gods beneath the earth.


Now hear, you blissful powers underground-

Answer the call, send help.

Bless the children, give them triumph now.


“Once you start looking for ancient Greek parallels in Harry Potter, they show up everywhere”. Alicia Aho      https://www.overthinkingit.com/2011/09/28/harry-potter-odyssey/


The following quotes by and about Peeves the Poltergeist are from the books. If you have not yet read the books I would strongly urge you to do so, as there are many characters and incidents that had to be omitted from the films.

Fred and George Weasley are given far less prominence in the film and also the ghosts such as Nearly Headless Nick (Sir Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington) who inhabit Hogwarts. Peeves is seen as a thorough pest throughout the books, although he steers well clear of the Bloody Baron.

The Quotes

“A bundle of walking sticks were floating in mid-air ahead of them and as Percy took a step towards them they started throwing themselves at him.

‘Peeves,…a poltergeist.. Peeves show yourself’.

…a little man with wicked dark eyes and a wide mouth appeared, floating cross-legged in the air, clutching the walking sticks.

‘Oooooh!’ He said, with an evil cackle. ‘Ickle firsties! What fun!’.

He swooped suddenly at them… Peeves stuck out his tongue and vanished dropping the walking sticks on Neville’s head. They heard him zooming away, rattling coats of armour as he passed.

‘You want to watch out for Peeves,’ said Percy, as they set off again. ‘The Bloody Baron’s the only one who can control him…’”  (Philosopher’s Stone, 96)


“’PEEVES!’ Filch roared, flinging down his quill in a transport of rage. ‘I’ll have you this time, I’ll have you!’

Peeves was the school poltergeist: a grinning, airborne menace who lived to cause havoc and distress” (Chamber of Secrets, 97)

“Peeves was bobbing overhead, now grinning wickedly, surveying the scene; Peeves always loved chaos… broke into song:

“Oh, Potter, you rotter, oh, what have you done,

You’re killing off students, you think it’s good fun'” (Chamber of Secrets, 152)


’I’d take that gum out of the keyhole, if I were you, Peeves,‘ he said pleasantly. ‘Mr Filch won’t be able to get in to his brooms.’…Professor Lupin…raised his wand to shoulder height, said ‘Waddiwasi!’ and pointed it at Peeves.

With the force of a bullet, the wad of chewing gum shot out of the keyhole and straight down Peeves’s left nostril; he whirled right way up and zoomed away, cursing.                                                                            Prisoner of Azkaban p.99


It was Peeves the Poltergeist, bobbling over the crowd and looking delighted, as he always did, at the sight of wreckage or worry…Peeves flipped over, and grinned at Dumbledore from between his own legs.                   Prisoner of Azkaban p.121


‘Why, it’s Potty Wee Potter!’ cackled Peeves, allowing two of the inkwells to fall to the ground where they smashed and splattered the walls with ink; Harry jumped backwards out of the way with a snarl.

‘Get out of it, Peeves.’

‘Oooh, Crackpot’s feeling cranky….

‘Oh, most think he’s barking, the potty wee lad,

But some are more kindly and think he’s just sad,

But Peevesy knows better and says that he’s mad-‘

‘SHUT UP!’                                                                           Order of the Phoenix p.222


Peeves, who was hanging upside-down from a chandelier and grinning maliciously at them.

‘Potty asked Loony to go to the party! Potty lurves Loony!

Potty luuuuuuurves Looooooooony!’ And he zoomed away, cackling and shrieking..

Half-Blood Prince p.292


They passed Peeves near the turning into Gryffindor Tower, but he was streaking happily towards the source of the yelling, cackling and calling,

When there’s strife and when there’s trouble

Call on Peevsie, he’ll make double!’                                Half-Blood Prince p.381


‘Look at the ickle creatures squabbling [Kreacher and Dobby] bitey bitey, punchy punchy…kicky, scratchy! Cried Peeves happily, now pelting bits of chalk at the elves to enrage them further. ‘Tweaky, pokey!’….’Stick your fingers up his nosey, draw his cork and pull his earsies‘                                                    Half-Blood Prince p.393


‘STOP THEM!’ Shrieked Umbridge, but it was too late…Fred and George kicked off from the floor, shooting fifteen feet into the air… Fred looked across the hall at the poltergeist bobbing on his level above the crowd.

‘Give her hell from us, Peeves.’

And Peeves, who Harry had never seen take an order from a student before, swept his belled hat from his head and sprang to a salute as Fred and George wheeled about to tumultuous applause from the students below and sped out of the open front doors into the glorious sunset.                Order of the Phoenix p.595


Peeves…chased [Umbridge] gleefully from the premises whacking her alternately with a walking stick and a sock full of chalk.         Order of the Phoenix p.755


Somewhere in the distance they could hear Peeves zooming through the corridors singing a victory song of his own composition:

We did it, we bashed them, wee Potter’s the One

And Voldy’s gone mouldy, so now let’s have fun!          Deathly Hallows p.597