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This book has been prepared for the purpose of encouraging the intelligent study of the history of American literature by assembling representative text of the poetry and adequate critical machinery to accompany it.
In making the selections two main points have been kept in mind: First, that, taken as a whole, the poems should be observable as an index both to the progress of American poetry and to the progressions of American thought; second, that they should fairly represent the chief characteristics of the authors. In order to have them hit this latter mark, it was necessary that they be ample enough to furnish material for real study of the successive poets, and this fulness limited the number of units to twenty-nine, twenty-five poets and four time-groups: songs, epigrams and elegies of the seventeenth century, almanac verse of the eighteenth, and the lyrics of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars not included in the works of the more important poets. Insurmountable copyright restrictions will account for the lack of a few late products by four of the best known poets, and for the total omission of one or two others who could not be adequately represented. These omissions, however, have only slightly disturbed the balance of the text.
The material, aside from the text, has been prepared with the aim of assisting the student to use his mind rather than his memory, and of suggesting lines of study for him to follow. The criticisms are, therefore, not offered as dogmatic finalities, but as "aids to reflection.” Wherever they can be construed as representing the debatable opinions of the authors, they will be of more service to the students who arrive at intelligent dissent from them than to those who mark and learn them with unthinking docility. Pains have been taken to indicate as far as possible the original places of publication in various types of periodicals, from newspapers to annuals, and a separate index of these data has been prepared. The importance of this information, and the deductions that can be drawn from it, have thus far been almost wholly overlooked. The editor will be grateful for corrections or additions.
Assistance of the greatest value has been rendered by Mr. Howard M. Jones, in the writing of the criticisms on Emerson, Poe, Whittier, Lowell, Longfellow and Lanier; by Mr. George Sherburn, in the supply of the text and criticism on the hitherto unnoticed poem by the eighteenth century Lewis; by Mr. Frank M. Webster, in the writing of the criticism on Anne Bradstreet, and in extensive work on the notes; and
by Miss Agnes L. Pickering, in help in preparation of the manuscript. Among many librarians who have been liberal in their courtesies, especial acknowledgment is due Mr. J. S. Schwab, Yale University, in connection with the use of the Aldis collection; to Mr. H. L. Koopman, Brown University, in connection with the use of the Harris collection, and to Mr. W. G. Forsythe, of the Boston Public Library, in connection with use of the haven for students over which he presides in the Barton library room.
PERCY H. BOYNTON.
JOSEPH RODMAN DRAKE
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