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LONGFELLOW: WHITTIER: BRYANT:
HOLMES: LOWELL: EMERSON.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES AND NOTES
11 EAST SEVENTEENTH STREET, NEW YORK.
The Riverside Press, Cambridge.
Copyright, 1850, 1856, 1858, 1860, 1861, 1864, 1866, 1868, 1875, and 1878
BY JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER.
Copyright, 1875 and 1878,
Copyright, 1848, 1868, 1874, 1875, and 1876
BY JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL
Copyright, 1862 and 1867,
All rights reserved.
H. 0. HOUGHTON AND COMPANY.
In making the selection for this volume of American Poems, a very simple principle has been followed. Popular collections of poetry contain many of the shorter and well-known poems of the authors represented in this book, but the scope of such collections does not generally permit the introduction of the longer poems. It is these poems, and, with a slight exception, these only, that make up this volume. The power to read and enjoy poetry is one of the finest results of education, but it cannot be obtained by exclusive attention to short poems; there is involved in this power the capacity for sustained attention, the remaining with the poet upon a long flight of imagination, the exercise of the mind in bolder sweep of thought. Moreover, the familiarity with long poems produces greater power of appreciation when the shorter ones are taken up. It is much to take deep breaths of the upper air, to fill the lungs with a good draught of poetry; and unless one accompanies the poet in his longer reaches, he fails to know what poetry can give him.
Again, it has been desired to make the book an agreeable introduction to the pleasures of poetry, and, by confining it to American poetry of the highest order, to give young people in America the most natural acquaintance with literature. This does not profess to be a representative volume of American poetry, nor, in a comprehensive way, of the poets whose works are included in it; but, because the poems are themselves worthy, and the group is American in origin and tone, the book has a significance which justifies its title. These poets are our interpreters; the poetry is contemporaneous and appeals through familiar forms ; as far as possible, narrative poems have been chosen, and in the arrangement of authors regard has been had to degrees of difficulty, the more involved and subtle forms of poetry following the simpler and more direct. Throughout, the book has been conceived in a spirit which welcomes poetry as a noble delight.
With the same intention the critical apparatus has been treated in a literary rather than in a pedagogical way. The editor has imagined himself reading aloud, and stopping now and then to explain a phrase, to clear an allusion, or to give a