Poet's Choice

By Robert Pinsky
Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Penguin Classics Series has issued in a new paperback edition The Complete Poems of Andrew Marvell, the 17th-century English poet. Marvell is a master of serious play, poetry that appealingly displays the energy of his mind -- urbane but capable of wonder, learned but the opposite of stuffy. For instance:

The Mower to the Glowworms

Ye living lamps, by whose dear light

The nightingale does sit so late,

And studying all the summer night,

Her matchless songs does meditate;

Ye country comets, that portend

No war, nor prince's funeral,

Shining unto no higher end

Than to presage the grass's fall;

Ye glowworms, whose officious flame

To wandering mowers shows the way,

That in the night have lost their aim,

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