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The best way,
THE present Cambridge Edition of Mr. Lowell's poems contains, substantially in the order established by the author, the poems included by him not long before his death in the definitive Riverside Edition of his writings, and in addition the small group contained in the Last Poems, collected by his literary executor, Mr. Charles Eliot Norton. In the brief Prefatory Note to the four volumes of his Poems in the Riverside Edition, Mr. Lowell said:
“ There are a great many pieces in these volumes, especially in the first of them, which I would gladly suppress or put into the Coventry of smaller print in an appendix. But .ilka mon maun dree his weird,' and the avenging litera scripta manet is that of the over-hasty author. Owing to the unjust distinction made by the law between literary and other property, most of what I published prematurely has lost the protection of copyright, and is reprinted by others against my will. I cannot shake off the burthen of my early indiscretions if I would. perhaps, is to accept with silent contrition the consequences of one's own mistakes, and I have, after much hesitation, consented to the reprinting of the old editions without excision.
“ I must confess, however, that I have attained this pitch of self-sacrifice only by compulsion, and should have greatly preferred to increase the value of this collection by lessening its bulk. The judicious reader will, I fear, distinguish only too easily what I should wish, in parliamentary phrase,' to be taken as read.' grow older, we grow the more willing to say, as Petrarca in Landor's Pentameron says to Boccaccio, “We neither of us are such poets as we thought ourselves when we were younger.”
The Editor of this volume has not felt at liberty either to add poems left by the author in the deepening obscurity of old magazines, or to follow the probable judgment of Mr. Lowell in reducing any of his collected verse to the lower terms of an appendix.
The method followed in the other volumes of the Cambridge series has been observed in this. The head-notes are occupied mainly with the history of the several poems; criticism has been given only when the author himself was the critic. The Publishers and Editor desire to make acknowledgment to Mr. Norton, the editor, and Messrs. Harper & Brothers, the publishers, for their courtesy in allowing a liberal use to be made of Letters of James Russell Lowell, and special thanks are due Mr. Norton for the valuable aid which he has given the editor in the preparation of the volume.
BOSTON, 4 PARK STREET, October 7, 1896.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
POEMS OF THE WAR.
THE WASHERS OF THE SHROUD 334