The Task "King Of Intimate Delights"

Denise Levertov

"King Of Intimate Delights"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The quotation is from the fourth book of The Task, entitled "The Winter Evening," one of the six books, or divisions, of the poem. Cowper, at the suggestion of Lady Austen, began writing about the simple and uneventful life he was living, a life forced upon him by an earlier, severe mental illness. Lady Austen suggested that he undertake the task (whence the title) of writing a blank verse poem about the sofa, which became the subject of Book I of the poem. Book IV relates the simple pleasures of an eighteenth century winter evening spent drinking tea before a fire in the living room, with curtains drawn to keep out the cold. The poet addresses winter and praises it for the quiet family gatherings it brings:

Thou hold'st the sun
A prisoner in the yet undawning east,
Shortening his journey between morn and noon,
And hurrying him, impatient of his stay,
Down to the rosy west; but kindly still
Compensating his loss with added hours
Of social converse and instructive ease,
And gath'ring, at short notice, in one group
The family dispers'd, and fixing thought,
Not less dispers'd by day-light and its cares.
I crown thee king of intimate delights,
Fire-side enjoyments, home-born happiness,
And all the comforts that the lowly roof
Of undisturb'd retirement, and the hours
Of long uninterrupted ev'ning, know.