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E. B. S.


ONE who underrates the significance

of our literature, prose or verse, as both the expression and stimulant of national feeling, as of import in the past and to the future of America, and therefore of the world, is deficient in that critical insight which can judge even of its own day unwarped by personal taste or deference to public impression. He shuts his eyes to the fact that at times, notably throughout the years resulting in the Civil War, this literature has been a “force."EDMUND CLARENCE STEDMAN.



The poetry relating to American history falls naturally into two classes : that written, so to speak, from the inside, on the spot, and that written from the outside, long afterwards. Of the first class, “The Star-Spangled Banner" is the most famous example, as well as perhaps the best. Even at this distant day, reading it with a knowledge of the circumstances which produced it, it has a power of touching the heart and gripping the imagination which goes far toward proving the genuineness of its art. Of the second class, “Paul Revere's Ride” is probably the most widely known, though Mr. Longfellow's own “Ballad of the French Fleet” is a better

poem. It is evident that, in compiling an anthology such as this, different standards must be used in judging these two classes. The first, aside from any quality as poetry which it may have, is of value because of its historical or political interest, because

it is an expression and an interpretation of the hour which gave it birth. With it, poetic merit is not the first consideration, which is, perhaps, as well. Yet, however slight their merit as poetry may be, many of the early ballads possess an admirable energy, directness, and aptness of phrase, and there is about them a childlike simplicity impossible of reproduction in this sophisticated age — as where Stephen Tilden, in his epitaph on Braddock, requests the great commanders who have preceded that unfortunate soldier to the grave to

“Edge close and give him room." With the retrospective ballad, on the other hand, poetic merit is a sine qua non. It has little value historically, however accurate its facts. It differs from the contemporary ballad in the same way that the “New Canterbury Tales” differ from Froissart; or as the “Idylls of the King” differ from “Le Morte Arthur.” It is less authentic, less convincing, less vital. It may have atmosphere, but there is no infallible way of telling whether the atmosphere is right. Unless it is something more, then, than mere metrical history, the modern ballad has little claim to consideration.

These are the two principles which the present compiler has had constantly in mind. Yet the second principle has been violated more than once, since, in a collection such as this, one must cut one's coat according to the cloth; or, rather, one must make sure that one is decently covered, though the covering may here and there be somewhat inferior in quality. So it has been necessary, in order to keep the thread of history unbroken, to admit some strands anything but silken; and if the choice has sometimes been of ills, rather than of goods, the compiler can only hope that he chose wisely.

can verse.

The most difficult and trying portion of his task has been, not to get his material together, but to compress it into reasonable limits. Especially in the colonial period was the temptation great to include more early Ameri

Peter Folger's "A Looking-Glass for the Times,” Benjamin Tompson's “New England's Crisis,” Michael Wigglesworth’s “God's Controversy with New England,” the “Sot-Weed Factor,” and many others, which it is recalling an old sorrow to name here, were excluded only after long and bitter debate. No doubt other exclusions will be noticed by nearly every reader of the volume — and it may interest him to know that the material gathered together would have made four such books as this.

The thread of narrative upon which the poems have been strung together has been made as slight as possible, just strong enough to carry the reader understandingly from one poem to the next. The notes, too, have been limited to the explanation of such allusions as are not likely to be found in the ordinary works of reference, with here and there an account of the circumstances which caused the lines to be written, or an indication of source, where the source is unusual. Every available source has been drawn upon the works of all the better known and many of the minor American and English poets, anthologies, newspaper collections, magazines, collections of Americana and especially of broadsides — in a word, American and

English poetry generally.

In this connection, the compiler wishes to make grateful acknowledgment of the assistance he has received on every hand, especially from Mr. Herbert Putnam and Miss Margaret McGuffey, of the Library of Congress; Mr. N.D.C. Hodges, librarian of the Cincinnati, Ohio, Public Library; Mr. C. B. Galbreath, librarian of the Ohio State Library; Mr. Charles F. Lummis, librarian of the Los Angeles, California, Public Library; Dr. Edward Everett Hale, Mr. William Henry Venable, Mr. Isaac R. Pennypacker, Mr. Arthur Guiterman, and Mr. Wallace Rice. He might add that it is a matter of deep personal gratification to him that in no instance has any author refused to permit the use of his work in this collection. On the contrary, many of them have been most helpful in suggestions.

A special effort has been made to secure accuracy of text, - no light task, , especially with the early ballads. Where the text varied, as was often the case, that has been followed which seemed to have the greater authority, except that obvious misprints have been corrected. In this, the compiler has had the coöperation of The Riverside Press, and has had frequent occasion to admire the care and knowledge of the corrector and his assistants.

B. E. S. CHILLICOTHE, Ohio, July 23, 1908.



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THE NORSEMEN, John Greenleaf Whittier

THE SKELETON IN ARMOR, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

PROPHECY, Luigi Pulci

THE INSPIRATION, James Montgomery

COLUMBUS, Lydia Huntley Sigourney.


STEER, BOLD MARINER, On, Friedrich von Schiller

THE TRIUMPH, Sidney Lanier

COLUMBUS, Joaquin Miller



-COLUMBUS DYING, Edna Dean Proctor

COLUMBUS, Edward Everett Hale


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