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A SELECTION FROM THE BEST MINOR POEMS
OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
By Asahel C. KENDRICK
PROFESSOR IN THE UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER
BY SHELDON & COMPANY,
Stereotyped by LITTLE, RENNIE & Co.,
645 & 647 Broadway, New York.
Printed by the Union PRINTING HOUSE,
79 John Street, New York.
THE purpose of this volume is suggested by its title. It is not intended to be a repository of waifs and estrays, nor again a thesaurus of minor English poetry; but simply to bring together in a single, convenient, and attractive volume as many as possible of those lesser poems, secular and sacred, in our language, with which the lover of poetry is, or would gladly become, conversant. A large number of the pieces are therefore the familiar household poems of the language ; others, not a few, are of rarer occurrence, and some will probably greet most readers for the first time. That the compiler has come near to exhausting the class of pieces to which the volume is dedicated, that he has always made the best selections, or that any lover of poetry will not look in it in vain for some of his special favorites, he does not for a moment flatter himself. A work of triple the size would be inadequate to exhaust the rich treasures in this department of English literature. Many fine pieces have been reluctantly excluded. Some excellent authors he has left unrepresented; but it is his comfort, as it will be theirs, that they are not dependent on this volume for either their fame or their usefulness.
The editor has endeavored to secure a correct text of the poems given, but could not always assure himself of perfect accuracy. In some instances a Babel of different readings has thrown him back upon his discretion. The poems are nearly all given entire, although his plan allowed in this respect a little latitude. A very few extracts indicate themselves; two pieces are starred to mark the lacunæ; and in two or three the omissions are not indicated. Quarles' fine poem on delight in “God," drops off two or three closing stanzas, and a few charming stanzas are taken from Owen Meredith's “Love-letter,” which seemed too long for entire insertion. As to the character of the pieces, while the editor could not of course be responsible for every sentiment admitted, he has felt bound to exclude alike what was vitally erroneous in teaching, or irreverent in spirit. Some otherwise admirable pieces have yielded to the application of this same principle. The purpose of the book has not seemed to require, or even admit, any very rigid classification of its contents. Harmony of general tone has been studiously consulted, and in some instances the grouping of pieces by similarity of subject has been carried further than was originally contemplated.
The editor submits his work cheerfully, though not with unqualified pleasure, to the poetry-loving public. Aware that he has failed to realize his ideal, he yet knows that most of the contents of this volume have ministered, and will yet minister, to the delight of thousands. Poetry is a powerful educator.
The “vision and the faculty divine” are God's rich gift to the few for the culture and enjoyment of the many. Pity
of its high responsibility! But none can contemplate the rich mantle of material beauty with which God has invested the universe, or that still deeper fountain of beauty that wells up in the human soul, and unites in the sacred trio of “the True, the Good, and the Beautiful,” and then disparage either the inspirations of song, or even the humble function of him who judiciously aids in their wider diffusion.
The Splendor Falls,
· Alfred Tennyson.