Books: The Soul of Cole and No

THE COMPLETE LYRICS OF COLE PORTER; Knopf; 354 pages; $30 THE LYRICS OF NOëL COWARD; Overlook Press; 418 pages; $25 "Strange how potent cheap music is," wrote Noël Coward about one of his own songs. He was partly right: the melody and rhythm proved irresistible, but the lyric ("Some day I'll find you,/ Moonlight behind you") provided the real power. In an enduring song, notes beguile the ear; words build a home in the mind.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in exemplary collections of lyrics by two of the world's most polished light versifiers, Coward (1899-1973) and his friend and...

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