Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

How, spite of your human scorning,

Once more God's future draws nigh, And already goes forth the warning

That ye of the past must die. Great hail ! we cry to the comers

65 From the dazzling unknown shore ; Bring us hither your sun and your summers,

And renew our world as of yore ; You shall teach us your song's new numbers,

And things that we dreamed not before : Yea, in spite of a dreamer who slumbers, 71 And a singer who sings no more.

A. W. E. O'SHAUGHNESSY.

397

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance

5 I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed. Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade, 10 And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid. It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate :

15 I am the captain of my soul.

W. E. HENLEY.

NOTES

INDEX OF WRITERS

AND

INDEX ÜF FIRST LINES

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

PREFACE TO THE NOTES

THE notes given in this edition of Palgrave's Golden Treasury are the outcome of many years' teaching from what I believe to be the best collection of English poems which can be put into the hands of the young. As a collection of the most beautiful poems in the language it is easily surpassed by many other anthologies, notably the Oxford Book of English Verse ; but unhappily education does not consist merely in the absorption of what is beautiful, and from the educational point of view Palgrave's selection is entitled to the first place mainly because it includes many pieces which are famous rather than admirable, pieces which we should be ashamed not to know, even if we do not take any real delight in knowing them.

Many competent teachers hold that the introduction of English masterpieces into the schoolroom is the surest way to implant in the young a lifelong distaste for poetry. Such was not, I am glad to think, the experience of my own boyhood, and I would suggest that where this lamentable result is found it proceeds either from the teacher's indifference to poetry, or from the pupil's inability to grasp the poet's meaning. It is true that there are minds incapable of appreciating poetry at any stage of their lives, just as there are those to whom music makes no appeal ; but I have never

met a boy who disliked poetry which he could under. stand, while I have known many whose critical faculty and sense of beauty have been enlarged, as I think they would have been in no other way, by a careful study of some of the gems which Palgrave selected for his treasury

The first essential then of notes is that they should throw light on the text, and this is unfortunately what so many annotators omit to do. In a note on a difficult passage paragraphs of exclamatory rhetoric on its beauty are useless to a reader who has failed to grasp its meaning, and would be easily out-weighed in value by the baldest paraphrase. Yet too many of the notes I have seen are one prolonged-generally feminine—twitter of admiration, full of the ‘I-cannotunderstand-I-love' spirit, but reducing the child, who is not at all disposed to love till he does understand, to a state of irritation highly unfavourable to the acquisition of a taste for poetry.

I have therefore made it my prime object to explain every word, phrase or line which I found difficult myself, and did not rest content with drawing the reader's attention to the 'matchless beauty’or the ‘untranslatable charm' of the passage, or with advising him to

compare a similar expression in another volume, for well I knew that such advice would not be taken. It follows then that no small part of the notes consists in attempted paraphrase, and if, as Mr. Senhouse main. tained, the moment a man begins to turn poetry into prose he begins to tell lies, the amount of mendacity in the following pages must be appalling ; but, while fully conscious of the inadequacy of my own renderings, I shelter myself behind Bacon's dictum 'A mix. ture of a lie doth ever add pleasure '—or at all events in the present case makes for understanding.

That my explanations will commend themselves to every one is hardly to be expected ; there is no key to

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »