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THIS little Collcction differs, it is believed, from others in the attempt made to include in it all the best original Lyrical pieces and Songs in our language, by writers not living, -and none beside the best. Many familiar verses will hence be met with ; many also which should be familiar :-the Editor will regard as his fittest readers those who love Poetry so well, that he can offer them nothing not already known and valued.
The Editor is acquainted with no strict and exhaustive definition of Lyrical Poetry; but he has found the task of practical decision increase in clearness and in facility as he advanced with the work, whilst keeping in view a few simple principles. Lyrical has been here held essentially to imply that each Poem shall turn on some single thought, feeling, or situation. In accordance with this, narrative, descriptive, and didactic poems,unless accompanied by rapidity of movement, brevity, and the colouring of human passion, have been excluded. Humorous poetry, except in the very unfrequent instances where a truly poetical tone pervades the whole, with what is strictly personal, occasional, and religious, has been considered foreign to the idea of the book. Blank verse and the ten-syllable couplet, with all pieces markedly dramatic, have been rejected as alien from whač is commonly understood by Song, and rarely conforming to Lyrical conditions in treatment. But it is not anticipated, nor is it possible, that all readers shall think the line accurately drawn. Some poems, as Gray's Elegy,' the Allegro and Penseroso,' Wordsworth's ' Ruth' or Campbell's 'Lord Ullin,' might be
A rigidly chronological sequence, however, rather fits a collection aiming at instruction than at pleasure, and the Wisdom which comes through Pleasure :—within each book the pieces have therefore been arranged in gradations of feeling or subject. The development of the symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven has been here thought of as a model, and nothing placed without careful consideration. And it is hoped that the contents of this Anthology will thus be found to present a certain unity, “as episodes,' in the noble language of Shelley, 'to that great Poem which all poets, like the co-operating thoughts of one great mind, have built up since the beginning of the world.'
As he closes his long survey, the Editor trusts he may add without egotism, that he has found the vague general verdict of popular Fame more just than those have thought, who, with too severe a criticism, would confine judgements on Poetry to
the selected few of many generations. Not many appear to have gained reputation without some gift or performance that, in due degree, deserved it: and if no verses by certain writers who show less strength than sweetness, or more thought than mastery in expression, are printed in this volume, it should not be imagined that they have been excluded without much hesitation and regret,far less that they have been slighted. Throughout this vast and pathetic array of Singers now silent, few have been honoured with the name Poet, and have not possessed a skill in words, a sympathy with beauty, a tenderness of feeling, or seriousness in reflection, which render their works, although never perhaps attaining that loftier and finer excellence here required. --better worth reading than much of what fills the scanty hours that most men spare for self-improvement, or for pleasure in
any of its more elevated and permanent forms. And if this be true of even mediocre poetry, for how much more are we indebted to the best! Like the fabled fountain of the Azores, but with a more various power, the magic of this Art can confer on each period of life its appropriate blessing: on early years Experience, on maturity Calm, on age Youthfulness. Poetry gives treasures more golden than gold,' leading us in higher and healthier ways than those of the world, and interpreting to us the lessons of Nature. But she speaks best for herself. Her true accents, if the plan has been executed with success, may be heard throughout the following pages :
- wherever the Poets of England are honoured, wherever the dominant language of the world is spoken, it is hoped that they will find fit audience.
Samuel Rogers, who died in 1855, was the last poet included in The Golden Treasury. In this reprint additional poems are given representing the latter half of the nineteenth century. None but Mr. Palgrave could have grouped the newer poems in the most poetically-effective order,' as he conceived it, so they have been added in the chronological order of their authors. A few dates in the original selection have been corrected. With regard to copyright poems, Messrs. William Blackwood & Sons have kindly permitted the inclusion of George Eliot’s ‘O may I join the choir invisible'; Messrs. George Bell & Sons, Mr. Coventry Patmore's The Toys '; Messrs. Chatto & Windus, Mr. Arthur O'Shaughnessy's ode; and Mrs. Henley and Mr. Nutt, Mr. W. E. Henley's ' Out of the night that covers me.'
Advantage has been taken of a new impression to include four of Mr. Swinburne's poems, by the kind permission of Mir. Theodore Watts-Dunton.
THE GOLDEN TREASURY
Spring, the sweet Spring, is the year's pleasant
king; Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring, Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing,
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo ! The palm and may make country houses gay, Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day, And we hear ay birds tune this merry lay,
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo! The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet, Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit, In every street these tunes our ears do greet, Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo ! Spring ! the sweet Spring !
SUMMONS TO LOVE
Phoebus, arise !
With azure, white, and red :