« PreviousContinue »
The object of the present work is to supply a want probably often felt by those who, in educating their children, are anxious to inspire them with a taste for poetry.
This taste cannot be awakened by anything in the form of lessons, but must be insensibly developed by placing in the hands of the child such poems as it will both read and learn of its own accord.
Great talent and ingenuity have, of late years, been shown in making the first steps of reading easy, and rendering books a pleasure rather than a terror to children; and in prose the child is carried on, as it grows in years, through a series of tales, each less childish and more interesting and instructive than the last: history written so as to present it in its most attractive form, travels, &c. until, at a maturer age, it is able to select for itself. But there is a wide gap between the nursery rhymes which delighted the child, and the first book of poetry usually placed in its hands. A child cannot select for itself, and few will toil through a number of the poems contained in most selections, which, however beautiful, are as much beyond the child's comprehension as a work of high art by an old master.
Sometimes this missing link is supplied by the mind and memory of the mother, who discovers, partly by experience, partly by instinct, what will attract and please her children, who early learn to delight in hearing their favourite passages repeated; and it is hoped that the present selection will be welcomed by such mothers, as it will save them the continual labour of looking in many different volumes for the few pieces which their children can understand and like; and also by the many children whose mothers have neither inclination nor leisure to undertake the work of selection for them.
Two things are essentially required in poetry for children—action and incident, to attract and keep alive their attention, and simplicity and power of language. Let