From ""Yankee Doodle"" to the pretentious whimsy of Kathleen Norris (b. 1947), Harmon has chosen over 500 samples of U.S. ""light verse""--and an odd array it is. The obvious contributors are here in force: Nash, Longfellow, Whittier, O.W. Holmes, Eugene Field, Dorothy Parker, David McCord, Phyllis McGinley. And most of the inescapable chestnuts: ""A Visit from St. Nicholas,"" ""Casey at the Bat,"" and ""The Purple Cow"" (with a sequel--""Ah, yes! I wrote the 'Purple Cow'/I'm Sorry, now, I Wrote it!/But I can Tell you, Anyhow/I'll kill you if you Quote it!""). But Harmon adopts a flexible, post-Auden definition of ""light verse,"" so he's able to include ponderous stanzas by John Q. Adams as well as other name-dropping scraps from such as J.P. Sousa, Hemingway, Edmund Wilson (Russian-English limericks), and Nabokov (elegant, black-comic wordplay). And he draws on substantial work of major poets--Whitman, Dickinson, Sandburg, W.C. Williams, Millay, cummings--some of which seems no less ""heavy"" (Harmon's word) than better poems not included. Strongest at resurrecting old charmers (H.C. Bunner), along with a good many wearisome jokers (""Orpheus C. Kerr"" and his punning doggerel), Harmon is weakest in the later 20th century: academia dominates (except for a hilarious Ferlinghetti and some terse Langston Hughes); the pick of pop-song lyrics is grossly under-informed (where, for just one example, is E.Y. Harburg?); there's no reflection of ethnic textures or political concerns: and this prim sampling surely would have benefited from some young voices--like that of Ntozake Shange (For Colored Girls. . . ). Ivory-towerish, then, but a generous compilation nonetheless--which will undoubtedly be one jumping-off point for future considerations of American light verse as a genre.