Page images
PDF
EPUB

AMERICAN POEMS

1776-1900

WITH NOTES AND BIOGRAPHIES

BY

AUGUSTUS WHITE LONG

PRECEPTOR IN ENGLISH AT PRINCETON UNIVERSITY

JOINT EDITOR OF ENGLISH POEMS FROM

CHAUCER TO KIPLING

UNIV.
CA

NEW YORK .:: CINCINNATI :: CHICAGO

AMERICAN BOOK COMPANY

918
L848

COPYRIGHT, 1905, BY

AUGUSTUS WHITE LONG.

ENTERED AT STATIONERS' HALL, LONDON,

LONG'S AM. POEMS.

W. P. 2

INTRODUCTION

THE purpose of this volume is not to thrust upon the public another anthology which, after decorating the drawing-room table a few days at Christmas, shall go to rest under the dust on the top shelf. On the contrary, it is intended to serve in the hands of students as a useful collection of American verse, with notes of explanation and interpretation, which shall illustrate the growth and spirit of American life as expressed in its literature. Moreover, it should, by giving new perceptions of power and beauty, lift the spirit and increase the sum of human enjoyment. “ Literature is the record of the best thoughts,” says Emerson ; and the best thoughts of the best Americans are most assuredly worthy of careful study.

The notes are intended primarily, not to ask puzzling questions, but to give information. It may be objected by some critics that much is explained that is already obvious; such criticism, however, is most likely to be made by those who have never taught school. The brief critical comments which have been added to the explanatory notes are meant to interpret the poems to the student and to win his attention and sympathy. In the biographical sketches, the aim has been to avoid all matters which are obscure or which may lead to fruitless discussion. The purpose of these sketches is to inform, and, if possible, to entertain and awaken interest. As a whole, the volume does not pretend to exhaustiveness, either in its selections or its notes, but is rather meant to serve as an introduction to the systematic study of American poetry.

The field has been divided into three periods. The Early Period begins with Freneau, and includes the writers who preceded Bryant. These writers had many traits in common. They were imitators, for the most part, of English models; and their work was often marred by sentimentality. But they show growth in literary form, and their work gives evidence that the young nation was developing into national consciousness.

The Middle Period includes not only the greater names, Bryant, Emerson, Longfellow, Whittier, Poe, Holmes, and Lowell, but many

lesser names that cluster about them. This period closes with Mr. Thompson's The High Tide at Gettysburg, which may be said to mark the culmination of the impulse given to letters by the Civil War. Deep feeling and imaginative power stamp this period as the greatest in our literary history. The two chief forces that made it great were the revival of letters in New England and the Civil War.

The Later Period, which deals with writers who are for the most part still living, naturally does not possess the depth of feeling and the sustained imaginative power of poetry inspired by a great war, but it does possess real feeling and imagination. Moreover, it possesses a dominant urbanity, humor, and grace, and everywhere displays lightness of touch and dexterousness of form. Its deficiencies are apparently those of a period of waiting. What the future will bring forth may only be guessed at vaguely. It seems reasonably sure, however, that the splendid material and political activity of the United States at the present day — the surge of life that every day beats around our feet must in due time find fit literary expression; and those of us who believe strongly in the commercial and political future of the country are no less confident of the future of American letters.

Grateful acknowledgment for permission to use copyrighted selections is given as follows: to Maynard, Merrill & Co. for the selections by N. P. Willis; to J. B. Lippincott Company for the selections by T. B. Read and G. H. Boker; to the Robert Clarke Company for “ Antony to Cleopatra,” from their edition of the Poems of General William Haines Lytle ; to Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Company for the selections by P. H. Hayne; to McClure, Phillips & Co., publishers, for the selection by Edwin

.

Markham ; to Collier's Weekly for the selection by Caroline Duer; to Harper's Weekly for the selection by G. W. Carryl ; to Harper's Magazine for the selection by J. B. Gilder. The selections by Emerson, Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, Lowell, W. W. Story, Julia Ward Howe, T. W. Parsons, Bayard Taylor, J. T. Trow. bridge, E. C. Stedman, T. B. Aldrich, John Hay, Bret Harte, E. R. Sill, Maurice Thompson, E. M. Thomas, F. D. Sherman, L. I. Guiney, and W. V. Moody are used by permission of, and by special arrangement with, Houghton, Mifflin & Co., the authorized publishers of their works.

For further courtesies in matters of copyright, the editor is also indebted to : D. Appleton & Co.; The Bobbs-Merrill Co.; The Century Co.; Henry T. Coates & Co.; Small, Maynard & Co.; G. P. Putnam's Sons; F. M. Finch; G. J. Preston; Rosa N. Ticknor; Will H. Thompson ; W. T. Meredith ; Lloyd Mifflin ; John Vance Cheney ; Arthur Peterson ; W. Gordon McCabe ; James R. Randall; E. F. Ware.

To Mr. E. C. Stedman the special acknowledgment of the editor is due, and is cordially given, for the free use made of the texts in An American Anthology, and for indispensable help from the biographical notes. Many other books have also been of service. For illuminating suggestion, mention should be made of Professor Wendell's Literary History of America, Professor Woodberry's America in Literature, and Professor Trent's American Literature.

To Professor Henry van Dyke, Professor T. W. Hunt, Professor T. M. Parrott, and Professor H. F. Covington, of Princeton University, and to Mr. W. M. Reed and Mr. J. J. Moment, the editor is greatly indebted for generous assistance in numberless ways.

A. W. L. PRINCETON UNIVERSITY,

September 1, 1905.

« PreviousContinue »