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CHAUCER TO KIPLING
EDITED FOR USE IN SCHOOLS
THOMAS MARC PARROTT, PH.D.
PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH IN PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
AUGUSTUS WHITE LONG, A.M.
The Athenæum Press
april 29, 1903
Gift of the Publishers.
COPYRIGHT, 1902, BY
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
All teachers are of one mind as regards the importance of a continuous study of English literature during the years of preparation for college, as well as throughout the college course. It is generally recognized that the stream of English literature is not a Jordan into which we may dip seven times and depart with new bodies. A close study of the English classics should be not only a means of intellectual development, but should lead to a love of the best books, – a love which shall be to the student as the very breath of his nostrils.
There is room, we believe, in the curricula of secondary schools for a book of poems which shall serve as a link between the earlier studies in English and the work required for entrance to college. It is hoped, also, that this book will be found useful in the freshman year in many colleges as an introduction to the study of English poetry. The brief sketch of English literature prefixed to the volume — which attempts to do no more than to stake off the landmarks — may with profit be studied carefully at the outset by more advanced students.
The work of selection has been difficult. In making these selections we have tried to keep in mind two things: that every poem chosen should be good in itself, and that it should be suitable for the purpose in hand. In some cases we have omitted an author's most representative poem because it was not suitable for our purpose, which is to catch the attention and hold the interest of the young student. Unless this is done, time spent in the study of a poem is often worse than useless.
With younger pupils it may be advisable to begin with poems which are easy to understand and which touch the imagination. The ballads seem specially suited to this purpose. These old songs still stir the heart as with the sound of a trumpet. If we teachers of literature can arouse the imagination, quicken the feelings, and refine the taste of our boys and girls, we shall do much towards shaping their characters and sweetening their lives.
Finally, we cannot urge too strongly the importance of assigning passages to be memorized. This should be done with every lesson, and not spasmodically. By memorizing poems, or parts of poems, the pupil may lay up for himself treasures — a store of words, thoughts, and images — which will become more precious as the years go by
We are indebted for valuable aid in the preparation of this volume to Prof. Geo. M. Harper of Princeton University, Prof. G. L. Kittredge of Harvard University, and to the Rev. E. L. Gulick, Mr. C. B. Newton, and Mr. C. Harlow Raymond, of the English department at Lawrenceville School. The notes, which attempt to do little more than to explain or interpret, have been drawn from so many sources that it would be a hopeless task to make particular mention. Our thanks are due to Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons for permission to print Stevenson's Wandering Willie and Requiem from “Underwoods,” and to Messrs. Longmans, Green, & Co. for permission to print Morris's Riding Together from “The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems."
T. M. P.
A. W. L. PRINCETON UNIVERSITY,