Carcanet Press Logo
Quote of the Day
Carcanet Press is our most courageous publisher. When you look at what they have brought out since their beginnings, it makes so many other houses seem timid or merely predictable.
Charles Tomlinson

Selected Poems (2e)

William Cowper

Edited by Nick Rhodes

Cover Picture of Selected Poems
Categories: 18th Century, 19th Century
Imprint: Fyfield Books
Edition: 2nd
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback 2e (119 pages)
(Pub. Aug 2003)
Out of Stock
  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author
  •    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.
    William Cowper
    Born in 1731, the first surviving child of John Cowper, Rector of Berkhamstead and Chaplain to George II, and Anne (nee Donne), who died when he was six; destined for a legal career, he was educated at Westminster and the Middle Temple. In 1763 he suffered a major breakdown. After several ... read more
    Nick Rhodes
    ... read more
Share this...
The Carcanet Blog Zest in the art of living: Iain Bamforth read more Invitation to View: Peter Scupham read more Scale: Mina Gorji read more Forrest Gander on Coral Bracho: A Profile read more The Feeling Sonnets: Eugene Ostashevsky read more PN Review 266: Editorial read more
Find your local bookshop logo
Arts Council Logo
We thank the Arts Council England for their support and assistance in this interactive Project.
This website ©2000-2022 Carcanet Press Ltd