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This volume is an attempt to supply adequate and convenient means for a systematic study of early Nineteenth Century poetry. The authors here brought together, though widely separated in some respects, do nevertheless form a group by themselves in the development of English literature. They stand as exponents of that renaissance of poetry which marks our .century, and they should be studied not only as contrasted with each other, but as marking a distinct era.
So far as the editor is aware, no good opportunity exists for carrying on this work in high schools. One of the poets is not represented in any of the ordinary collections of poems now in use as text-books, and no simple explanation of their position in the history of English poetry has been published. To offer such an explanation is the chief purpose of the Introduction in the present volume, which aims to give not only an elementary, but, at least for high schools, an adequate conception of the reawakening of the poetic spirit in this century.
In addition, it is hoped that the student will make diligent use of the lists of dates and of biographical
material, which will throw light not only upon the five poets as individuals, but also and especially upon their mutual influence and common sources of inspiration. The selection of poems has been determined in part by the desire to rouse this personal interest, in the hope that the student will be stimulated to read more fully in the authors' works.
The reference lists are far from exhaustive. The intention is to restrict them to such books as can be procured in a good school or town library, and the works selected have been arranged, in general, in the order of importance. Many well-known essays have been omitted because it seemed unwise to spend time upon criticism which is unsympathetic, or which has been superseded by later and more accurate knowledge.
It is earnestly hoped that the teacher will require a much fuller general acquaintance with the poets than is to be obtained from these selections. Indeed, the book is intended to suggest lines of thought and of work in various directions, which the individual instructor can best determine for his own classes. No book is well used which is slavishly used.
The editor wishes to acknowledge the kindness of Professor Stockton Axson in reading proof, and of Miss Sarah W. Brooks in generously giving both time and thought to practical details.