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Selected Poems (2e)
Edited by Nick Rhodes
Categories: 18th Century, 19th Century
Imprint: Fyfield Books
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback 2e (119 pages)
(Pub. Aug 2003)
Out of Stock
God made the country, and man made the town.
What wonder then that health and virtue, gifts
That can alone make sweet the bitter draught
That life holds out to all, should most abound
And be least threaten'd in the fields and groves?
Possess ye, therefore, ye, who, borne about
In chariots and sedans, know no fatigue
But that of idleness, and taste no scenes
But such as art contrives,possess ye still
Your element; there only ye can shine...
In this selection, which includes the finest of the short poems and extracts from the longer ones, there is ample evidence of the quality of Cowper's faith and of his eye and ear. There are also indications of how his life, in many ways, tragic and unfulfilled, was sustained by his writing, for he wrote not to expose his misery but to engage in discourse with friends and with the natural world. He has a gift for detailed, delighted perception which makes even known things fresh and amusing. In his illness and distress, he expresses at times a profound gratitude for the simple and clarifing moment of life, its points of stability and love. The poems are personal but in general (with a few harrowi9ng exceptions) avoid confession and introspection. There are few poets of his stature and range so benign, and so memorable. Nick Rhodes provides a biographical and critical introduction to his timely selection.
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