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Printod by T. K & P. G. Collios


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By the publication of “THE FEMALE POETS OF AMERICA,” this survey of American Poetry was divided into two parts. From “THE POETS AND POETRY OF AMERICA” are omitted all reviewals of our female poets, and their places are supplied with notices of other authors. The entire volume is also revised, re-arranged, and in other respects much improved.

This work was in the first place too hastily prepared. There was difficulty in procuring materials, and in deciding, where so many had some sort of claim to the title, whom to regard as Poets. There had been published in this country about five hundred volumes of rhythmical compositions of various kinds and degrees of merit, nearly all of which I read with more or less attention. From the mass I chose about one fifth, as containing writings not unworthy of notice in such a survey of this part of our literature as I proposed to make. I have been censured, perhaps justly, for the wide range of my selections. But I did not consider all the contents of the volume genuine Poetry. I aimed merely to show what had been accomplished toward a Poetical Literature in the first half century of our national existence. With much of the first order of excellence I accepted more that was comparatively poor. But I believe I admitted nothing inferior to passages in the most celebrated foreign works of like character. I have also been condemned for omissions. But on this score I have no regrets. I can think of no name not included in the first edition which I would now admit without better credentials than were before me when that edition was printed.

The fact that nine large editions of “TAE POETS AND POETRY OF AMERICA" have been sold in seven years from its first publication, is a gratifying evidence of the interest felt in American letters.

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New YORK, October 1, 1819.

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This book is designed to exhibit the progress and condition of Poetry in the United States. It contains selections from a large number of authors, all of whom have lived in the brief period which has elapsed since the establishment of the national government. Considering the youth of the country, and the many circumstances which have had a tendency to retard the advancement of letters here, it speaks well for the past and present, and cheeringly for the future.

Although America has produced many eminent scholars and writers, we have yet but the beginning of a National Literature. EDWARDS and MARSH, in metaphysics; DWIGHT, EmMoNS, ALEXANDER, Stuart, Bush, WILLIAMS, Robinson, NORTON, Hodge and BARNEs, in Theology ; HAMILTON, MADISON, Webster and Calhoun, in Politics ; STORY, KENT and Wheaton, in Jurisprudence ; Prescott and BANCROFT, in History ; Brown, Cooper, IRVING, KENNEDY, Bird, WARE, HOFFMAN and HAWTHORNE, in Romantic Fiction ; BRYANT, DANA, HALLECK, LONGFELLOW, WHITTIER, and others whose names are in this volume, in Poetry; and AUDUBON, CHANNING, Everett, EMERSON, Brownson, VERPLANCK, and many more, in the various departments of Literature, have written for the coming ages. But too few of them, it must be confessed, are free from that vassalage of opinion and style which is produced by a constant study of the Literature of the country from which we inherit our language, our tastes, and our manners.

It is said that the principles of our heroic age are beginning to be regarded with indifference ; that patriotism is decaying; that the affections of the people are passing from the simplicity of a democracy to the gilded shows of an aristocracy. If it is so, it is because our opinions and feelings are controlled by foreigners, ignorant of our condition and necessities, and hostile to our government and institutions. And it will continue to be the case until, by an honest and judicious system of RECIPROCAL COPYRIGHT, such protection is given to the native author as will enable our best writers to devote more attention to letters, which, not less than wealth, add to a nation's

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Leppiness and greatness ; and should receive as much of the fostering care of government as is extended to the agriculturist or manufacturer.

There is nothing in our country to prevent the successful cultivation of Lieralure and the arts, provided the government places our own authors upon an equality with their foreign rivals, by making it possible to publish their works at the same prices. A National Literature is not necessarily confined to local subjects; but if it were, we have no lack of themes for romance, poetry, or any other sort of writing, even though the new relations which man sustains to his fellows in these commonwealths did not exist. The perilous adventures of the Northmen; the noble heroism of Columbus ; the rise and fall of the Peruvian and Mexican empires; the colonization of New-England by the Puritans; the witchcraft delusion; the persecution of the Quakers and Baptists; the rise and fall of the French dominion in the Canadas; the overthrow of the great confederacy of the Five Nations; the eftilement of New-York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, by people of the most varied and picturesque characters; the beautiful and poetical mythology of the aborigines; and that revolution, resulting in our independence and equal liberty, which forms a barrier between the traditionary past and the familiar present: all abound with themes for imaginative literature. Turning from these subjects to those of a descriptive character, we have a variety not less extensive and interesting. The chains of mountains which bind the continent; the inland seas between Itasca and the ocean ; caverns, in which whole nations might be hidden; the rivers, cataracts, and sea-like prairies; and all the varieties of land, lake, river, sea and sky, between the gulfs of Mexico and Hudson, are full of them.

The elements of power in all sublime sights and heavenly harmonies should live in the poet's song. The sense of beauty, next to the miraculous divine suasion, is the means through which the human character is purified and elevated. The creation of beauty, the manifestation of the real by the ideal, in “ words that move in metrical array,” is the office of the poet.

This volume embraces specimens from a great number of authors; and i ucugh it may not contain all the names which deserve admission, the judicious critic will be more likely to censure me for the wide


of selections than for any omissions. In regard to the number of poems I have given from particular writers, it is proper to state that considerations unconnected with any estimates of their comparative merit have in some cases guided me. The collected works of several poets have been frequently

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