This volume includes some of Cowper's finest works, among them such well-known short poems as `The Poplar-Field', `Epitaph on a Hare', `On the Loss of the Royal George' (here restored to the form in which Cowper wrote it, and accompanied by the music for which it was written), and `TheDiverting History of John Gilpin' which, two years after its first anonymous publication in a newspaper, suddenly achieved huge popularity in a series of public readings. It also contains Cowper's masterpiece, The Task - one of the most approachable of the great English poems. Cowper's blank verseis a supple instrument, capable of every effect, from the parody-georgic on the growing of cucumbers to the visionary conclusion of Book VI. At the centre of the poem stands the poet himself, presented with wry humour and deep poignancy. The texts are based on manuscripts as well as early editionsof the poetry, and are supplied with textual annotation and commentary. In the case of The Task, this is the first fully annotated edition for over a hundred years; its commentary relates the poem to the period in which it was written more fully than any previous edition.