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THE plan and scope of the present volume are, it is
I believed, sufficiently explained by its title and by its contents and arrangement. As, however, the number of poetical anthologies is already large, a word of justification may properly be expected of anyone who would venture to increase the number.
In any close survey of the larger compilations of Dana, Bryant, Coates, Fields and Whipple, and Sargent, the reader, while impressed with the fulness and richness of these collections, must notice the comparatively small number of pieces which have become to any considerable extent popular favorites. It is apparent also that miscellaneous collections should be chiefly popular in plan and purpose. The field of English poetry is so vast that no anthologies, however wide their scope, can serve as a substitute for the works of the various authors; and attempts to make them do this must result in cumbersome and unwieldy as well as expensive volumes. Of smaller books we already have, it is true, a number which admirably serve their purpose; but it is no disparagement of these to note their limited range their design being in general to represent some special department or some particular period of poetry, or to express the individual tastes and preferences of their
illustrious compilers. Belonging to the first of these classes are works so admirable as Palgrave's “Golden Treasury" – which is restricted to songs and lyrics, and represents no American authors,— Johnson's "Single Famous Poems," and Lodge's “Ballads and Lyrics”; and to the second class, Whittier's “Songs of Three Centuries,” Longfellow's “Poems of Places,” and Emerson's “Parnassus."
Hayirig.this popular aim prominently in view, the compiler of the present volume has hoped to be able, by limiting his selections as closely as possible to short pieces, to bring together a larger nůmber and greater variety of popular poetical favorites. than can perhaps be found elsewhere in equal compass. - Ft. would of course be too much to expect that any reader could find all of his favorite pieces here. Judgments would differ in many instances as to what should be given precedence; and many omissions are inevitable. As a necessary result of the preference for short pieces, many of the older writers are represented but sparingly: and from this there also results, what it is hoped may prove to be an advantage — and what, indeed, has been one of the objects of the book — that many pieces are to be found here which are not usually given in similar collections. In order to afford as wide a representation of authors as possible, the selections have been confined, except in a very few instances, to a small number from each. Many authors, indeed, are known by but a single piece — which would hence have a special claim to a place here. As far as practicable, whole poems have been chosen; but where an author could best be represented by some familiar or characteristic extract, this has been used, and in such case the full title of the poem from which the extract is taken usually appears at the end.
Great pains have been taken to secure correct versions of the pieces used. This is, however, a matter of too much difficulty to permit anyone who has ever attempted it to be confident of entire success. Many fine pieces are not to be found in any authentic form, but exist only as waifs and strays of literature. Some have so long borne titles different from those their authors gave them, that they would scarcely be recognized by any other name; while others have not only been re-christened, but also re-apparelled in such a way that their own parents might almost pass them by as strangers: like the poor palmer with Marmion at Norham Castle, they are so changed by fortune and hard usage, that
“The mother that them bare,
She had not known her child.” The classification of the poems, in which the stereotyped chronological order is abandoned for an arrangement by subjects, is believed to be that most effective and convenient in a popular work like this. It is necessarily somewhat arbitrary, since it is not always clear to which one of several classes a poem most fitly belongs. It is hoped, however, that the classification will be found in the main correct, and that its adoption will be approved by use.
As has seemed proper and desirable in an American collection, liberal quotations have been made from the works of American poets. These have been necessarily subject to existing copyright restrictions, which may explain any seeming disproportion in the representation of the various authors. The search for material, both in British and American poetry, has been brought down as nearly as possible to the present; and a very interesting feature of the collection, it is thought, is the large number of remarkable poems from unknown and little-known authors. Translations — since a translated poem really becomes a new poem - are in this work indexed under the name of the translator, or as anonymous where the translator is not known; though the name of the original author, when known, is given at the end of translated pieces.
F. F. B. CHICAGO, November, 1881.
TO REVISED EDITION
THAT this collection of English poetry has held its own
for twenty-five years seems a sufficient reason for offering it to the public in a revised and enlarged edition. In the earlier preface it was stated that the search for material had been “ brought down as nearly as possible to the present." That present is now a quarter-century past; and while this interval has not been marked by the appearance of any great names in English poetry, much that is of interest has been given to the world both from poets already famous and from those who were unknown when the collection was originally made. The present edition, therefore, not only sustains the intention of the earlier one in bringing the material down to date, but includes matter that cannot fail to give increased richness and variety to the collection.
In an anthology such as this, two limitations are, or should be, obvious: limitations of space, and limitations in the use of copyrighted matter. The question is not as to what might be done in a larger volume and with entire freedom in using material, but whether the space and material at command have been used wisely on the whole. And on this point, of course, opinions will be almost as varied as the tastes of readers; no poetry-lover will ever find his ideal anthology until he inakes his own. Also, any attempt