« PreviousContinue »
The Family Library POETRY AND SONG,
Choice Selections from the Best Poets,
ENGLISH, SCOTTISH, IRISH, AND AMERICAN;
INCLUDING TRANSLATIONS FROM THE GERMAN, SPANISH, FRENCH, PORTUGUESE,
PERSIAN, LATIN, GREEK, &c.
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.
With an Introductory Treatise by the Editor
“ POETS AND POETRY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.”
A BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIR OF BRYANT,
BY JAMES GRANT WILSON.
With Indexes Of Authors, and Titles of their Poems; of First Lines; and of Famous Lines and Phrases, rendering
the Work a Completely Classified DICTIONARY OF POETICAL QUOTATIONS.
WITH A NEW STEEL PORTRAIT OF MR. BRYANT; FULL-PAGE ENGRAVINGS ON WOOD, ILLUSTRATIVE
OF POEMS IN THE WORK; AND AUTOGRAPHIC FAC-SIMILES OF THE HANDWRITING
OF CELEBRATED POETS.
FORDS, HOWARD, AND HULBERT.
The flattering reception accorded to Mr. Bryant's Library of Poetry and Song is best shown in the fact that upwards of one hundred thousand copies have been sold since its publication in 1870, while its popularity seems in no way diminished.
In 1876 the Publishers thought it worthy of a thorough revision, enlargement, and improvement. Accordingly, with Mr. Bryant's active co-operation, the work underwent an entire reconstruction : selected parts of the early volume were eliminated, and a large amount of new matter added. This entailed upon Mr. Bryant much labor in revision of all the material, - cancelling, inserting, suggesting, even copying out with his own hand many poems not readily attainable except from his private library; in short, giving the work the genuine influence of his fine poetic sense, his unquestioned taste, and his broad and scholarly acquaintance with literature.
The work thus reconstructed was published in Numbers, printed on large paper, and with some eighty full-page illustrations, steel portraits, wood engravings, etc., -- having been completed just before Mr. Bryant's death in 1878. This forms a handsome work in two quarto volumes.
The demand for the original, one-volume octavo form, however, has still continued ; and now, in order to have it as complete as possible, it has been revised in the light of Mr. Bryant's later labor on the quarto edition. The making of entirely new electrotype plates has given opportunity to observe the suggestions of the critics, to correct errors (especially in the indexes, which have been brought down to the present year in the matter of the deaths of authors), to complete many poems of which only portions had been given, and as far as practicable to transfer to this volume many of the improvements of the larger work.*
The design of the book cannot be better set forth than in the words of its early Preface :
“It has been intended in this work to gather the largest practicable compilation of the best poems in our language, making it as nearly as possible the choicest and most complete general collection of poetry yet published.
“The name 'Library' which is given it indicates the principle upon which the book has been made, namely, that it might serve as a book of reference; as a comprehensive exhibit
* In view of this fact, it has been thought appropriate to introduce the extract from Mr. Bryant's Preface to the quarto edition, which follows.