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TO THE MEMORY OF
WILLIAM DEWITT HYDE
EDWARD KIDDER GRAHAM President of the University of North Carolina, 1914-1918:
LOVERS OF POETRY
In this volume we have attempted not only an extensive, but also a coherent and well proportioned, representation of the poetry of England from about 1798 to 1914. Both the need and the feasibility of such a book have recently become quite decided. Very much fresh light has been turned upon the relationship of poetry since 1870 to that which preceded. Indeed, the Great War and related factors have thrown into better perspective the whole poetic and cultural movement of the past hundred years. By attending closely to the central drift of that movement, we have tried to win beyond those twin perils which have ever beset the collector of nineteenth century literature — on the one hand, a narrow wilfulness, on the other, choppy chaos. We have aimed at a book which, though always concerned with particular poets and poems, is concerned, through all and above all, with the poetry of the nineteenth century conceived as a whole.
Every selection has been considered at once for its individual poetic distinction and its significance as part of the whole. Hence the great bulk of space has naturally gone to the dozen or so leading poets of the century; while at the same time no poem of theirs has been included to illustrate a stage of personal development lacking in general import. From the secondary and minor poets we have collected, together with their few distin. guished longer pieces (e.g., Fitzgerald's “Rubaiyat"), some hundred poems which are at once very brief, fairly typical of their authors, and highly suggestive of the main trend of nineteenth-century poetic art and thought. The extraordinary personal variety of that epoch, so to speak, is thus represented in comparatively small space, and without loss of centrality. An unusual amount of space is properly given to significant narrative and meditative verse, including a number of pieces here printed entirely for the first time in a nineteenth-century collection (e.g., Tennyson's "In Memoriam," Morris's "The Golden Apples").
Order of poems. In arranging the selections, we have aimed at avoiding both the wilfulness of personal predilection and the chaos of a slavish adherence to chronological detail. In general, the poems follow the order of their dates, which are noted under their titles in the text: the date of composition when known, otherwise the date of first publication. But we have brought together pieces closely and obviously related in spirit when they belong to the same year, or when the interval between them is so meaningless as to be negligible. This interval, except in the case of certain selections from minor writers, is rarely so much as half a dozen years. But such care has been given to the position of each poem that, more often than not, it will be found to follow one which it effectively supplements, or to precede one which it effectively introduces. The book thus conveys more poetry than it prints. For very often from two related poems, read in sequence, the reader can frame, as Browning might say, not a third poem but a star.
Notes. The Notes follow out the main intention of the text. Significant relationships between successive poems, poets, and groups of poets are emphasized. The frequent suggestions of outside reading, prose as well as verse, are carefully placed and designed. We hope that, like alluring side-roads, they will tempt the reader into excursions which may gradually afford some comprehension of the whole territory of nineteenth-century literature in relation to the highway here travelled. We have aimed to stimulate and guide, instead of obviating, the student's own endeavors. Lengthy comments are excluded. The biographical matter is limited in amount and pertinent to
the text. Unimportant allusions and words included in abridged dictionaries are not covered. Concise but careful directions are given for overcoming difficulties which are likely to obscure, for the average student, the purport and bearing of important poems.
Text. Generally, the text follows present usage in spelling, punctuation, and other matters of form. Old or idiosyncratic modes have been carefully retained from authoritative editions wherever they seemed likely to clarify, for users of this book, the sense or sound intended by the poet; otherwise, they have been still more carefully adjusted.
Explanation of devices. Dates of composition are given in slanting figures, dates of first publication in upright figures. - Titles in italics were assigned by the editors. — All Sonnets are thus headed in the Table of Contents, but not in the text. - Selected lines and stanzas are numbered as in the complete works. When two or more authors appear on any page of the text, their names, and not the titles of poems, are given in the page-heading, thus: Sir F. H. Doyle - Edward Fitzgerald. — In the Notes, a reference to a selection printed in this volume is almost always followed by the page-number in parenthesis, and is thus to be distinguished from references to pieces not included.
Acknowledgments. Professor Stanley P. Chase of Union College contributed the introductions to Patmore, Fitzgerald, Cory, MacDonald, Christina Rossetti, Dobson, Stevenson, Kipling, Davidson, Housman, Yeats, Russell, Francis Thompson, and Masefield, and also a number of valuable suggestions in the field of recent poetry. For help in solving particular difficulties we are indebted to Mr. Paul Elmer More, Dean Nixon and Professor F. W. Brown of Bowdoin College, and the librarians of Harvard College, Bowdoin College, and the University of North Carolina.
We are greatly obliged to authors and publishers who have permitted us to use copyrighted verse, and wish to make particular acknowledgment to the following for the poems named: - Messrs. D. Appleton and Company: “Say not that the past is dead” (or, “Unconscious Cerebration") by W. E. H. Lecky. — Messrs. Dodd, Mead and Company: "Heaven," "Peace," and "The Soldier" by Rupert Brooke; "To the New Men" by John Davidson; "Song's Apostasy" by Sir William Watson. — Mr. Rudyard Kipling and Messrs. Doubleday, Page and Company: "The Last Chantey" (from The Seven Seas) and “Sons of Martha" (from The Years Between). – Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons: “The Morning Drum-Call” by R. L. Stevenson, and “The Burden of Strength" by George Meredith. — Mrs. William Sharp: “The White Peace” by "Fiona Macleod” (William Sharp), from Vol. VII (Poems and Dramas) of the Collected Edition published by Messrs. Duffield and Company. - The Macmillan Company: Proem of "Fires," "The Ice," "On Hampstead Heath," "Prometheus" by W. W. Gibson; "Nature's Questioning," "The Darkling Thrush," "George Meredith,” “The Wind Blew Words,” “The Statue of Liberty” and “A Thought in Two Moods" by Thomas Hardy; "Eve" by Ralph Hodgson; "Men are made human,” “Ah, we are neither heaven nor earth,” and “Tewkesbury Road" by John Masefield; “The Great Breath” and “Inheritance" by G. W. Russell ("A.E.”); “Into the Twilight” by W. B. Yeats; and copyrighted texts of poems by Christina Rossetti and Tennyson.
G. R. E.