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In this book the reader may travel down the broad highway of English poetry, from the days of Spenser and Shakespeare to our own time. Pausing in these early years of a new century, with the songs of living poets in the air, he can look back-as through a long vista-over the way he has come.
There are a few priceless things that cannot be too often seen or too well known; the familiar makes its peculiar appeal, as well as the novel, and if there is an exhilaration in making a new friend, there is also a gentler and perhaps a deeper satisfaction in finding an old one.
Here the reader travels down the middle of the highway, resisting many temptations to turn aside and explore the less trodden ways that branch off here and there on either hand; he passes many a retreat where he might profitably linger, yet, keeping to the main track, he welcomes much that is endeared by long association, and he sees, perhaps more clearly, the
course and changing character of that great spiritual thoroughfare, spanning both time and space, which is built to music and of music and therefore built forever.”
The present collection is not entirely new; it is an old one in a new form. Some years ago I prepared a book of Standard English Poems for students of English poetry. I have often been told since then that this collection, although intended primarily for school
age use, would be acceptable to lorers of poetry at muist. I have accordingly tried to obliterate the trail of the schoolmaster, and to adapt it to the taste and needs of the general reader. The notes have been omitted, the book has been put into a more attractive and artistic form, and the Victorian period has been enlarged by the introduction of a number of poems by recent and living writers.
It is a pleasant duty to add that the book in its new form owes its existence to Mr. Roland Holt, who has followed its compilation with unfailing interest, and at whose suggestion it was undertaken.
July 2nd, 1911.