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Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1843, by
JOHN C. RIKER,
in the clerk's office of the District Court of the United States, in and for
the Southern District of New York.
STEREOTYPED BY E. B. MEARS,
This collection of specimens of American Poetry is designed principally for the use of schools. The books hitherto published for this purpose have been mainly or entirely compiled from the writings of foreigners. It is believed that even in a literary point of view this is inferior to none now before the public, and that in some respects it is superior to all others. The poems which it contains are essentially American, in spirit as well as by origin. The themes of many of them are from our own history; they relate to the grand and beautiful in our scenery; or assert the dignity and rights of man, as recognized in our theory of government.
Happily, in making a compilation of this description, little care was necessary to exclude from it every thing of a depraving tendency. A distinguishing characteristic of our poetry is its freedom from all licentiousness. Although the specimens from some authors afford but an imperfect idea of their genius, they are such as suited best the plan of the editor. Some of the most admirable productions of Dana, DRAKE, SANDS,
and HILLHOUSE, are omitted on account of their length; and the festive songs and amatory poems of others are for obvious reasons excluded from a volume de. signed to be read by very young persons in schools and families. While the collection embraces nothing from some poets of good reputation, and from others, poems not artistically the best they have written, the editor believes it will leave on the mind of the reader a true and gratifying impression of the general character of our poetical literature.
A book of this kind has long been wanted in our schools, in which our own authors have been unknown, while others, frequently inferior in merit, have been familiar. However imperfectly the editor may have performed his task, he anticipates for the volume a favourable reception, not more confidently for this reason, than because of the intrinsic excellence of its contents, and the generally deepening interest in American letters.
PHILADELPHIA, January 15, 1843.