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us all things for labour," said the greatest scholar of the sixteenth century.

In the past, children have found too many difficulties. In the present, people seem inclined to take them all away. I have tried to steer between these two plans, and have probably failed, as to hold a middle course is always harder than to run to either extreme.

Still, I venture to hope that this book may become, to some children at least, too dear to throw away when school days are done, because the extracts in it will have served to show them that their "lot has fallen in a fair ground." I hope that however they may come as they should do if they are really to value their own rightly to love the literatures of other nations, they may still keep a corner for the book which may have been one of the first to serve them as a small doorway into an enchanted and enchanting land.

One pitfall I have tried to avoid. If I may borrow a favourite adjective of a famous Cambridge Classical Professor, I have tried not to make a "stuffy "book.

September, 1923.

G. E. H.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS are due, for their kind permission to use certain poems in this book, to Madame Hellé Flecker, Mrs. Joseph Plunkett, Sir William Watson, and to Messrs. Longmans and Co., Mr. Martin Secker, Mr. Elkin Mathews, Messrs. Constable and Co., Messrs. Maunsell, Messrs. Hodder and Stoughton, Messrs. Erskine MacDonald and Messrs. Selwyn and Blount.

Further, I offer my sincere thanks for their generosity, and, in several cases, for their kind interest in the book, to Count Plunkett, Mr. W. B. Yeats, Mr. Walter de la Mare, Mr. Wilfrid Meynell, Mr. J. C. Squire, Mr. Seumas O'Sullivan, Mrs. Charles Ratcliffe, Mr. James Mackereth, Mr. Laurence Binyon and Mr. John Freeman. In making these acknowledgements and offering these thanks I hope I have not omitted anyone who should have been included.





T is not unusual to hear grown-up, and not grownup, people say, "I hate poetry,' or even more sweepingly, "I hate literature."

No English-speaking mortal has any ground for saying either; for if there be a race whose written-down thoughts and feelings are full of interest and full of variety, it surely is our own. Unfortunately, many of us are too ignorant to know that our Literature contains something of lasting and intense value for every one of us, if only we would take as much trouble to find it as we do to secure everyday comforts and pleasures, or even to catch fish, hunt butterflies, or collect stamps. As men and women gradually learned, through the passing ages, to write down their thoughts, feelings, desires and opinions, they used many different ways or forms of expressing themselves. It is not very easy to distinguish these "forms," if we try to take our Literature in exact historical order; but we can safely say that it seems as if men used verse before prose-that is, for their literary work as apart from their everyday speech when, for instance, they discussed their affairs, or quarrelled, or asked other people to supply their needs.


Further, it would seem that among the many shapes which verse or poetry can take, the Epic comes first; or, as Sir Philip Sidney called it, "the Heroick." reason is that songs and stories were needed before men invented the making of books, for feasts and other great occasions were enlivened by narratives, whether sung or

said, of the heroic deeds and hairbreadth escapes of the better-known members of a tribe or nation. We all know that it is more difficult to remember prose than verse, whether rimed or unrimed.

An Epic is a story, distinguished from other stories by the fact that it all centres round or radiates from a person, or a very small group of persons, or the essential part of one nation's life. In this latter case, the differences of the many people making up a nation are disregarded, and the race or nation is treated as if it were a single whole, a person; the word "person" signifies in one of its meanings a corporate collection.

Properly speaking, an Epic should take the form of verse, but there are prose Epics; the essence of an Epic consists in the centredness, the one-ness of its story.

The verse-form called the Lyric springs up very early in the life of a people. Properly speaking, it is a song, meant, or fit, to be sung. As the Greeks were the earliest European people to excel in literature, and as their instrument was the lyre, a song to be sung came naturally to be called a "lyric." It is perhaps the most comprehensive of all forms of poetry; it is found in most times and places, and deals with the most varied subjects. Indeed, some people seem to fancy that everything which is not definitely something else can be called a lyric. But it really is not one of Humpty Dumpty's "portmanteau" words of which he said complacently, When I use a word, it means what I choose it to mean -neither more nor less."

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Wide as its scope is, the word cannot be described so. The great distinguishing mark of the true lyric is that while it deals with an individual, personal experience, it must make a universal appeal. One human being has felt, or known, or desired this, that or the other, and, if a true lyric poet, he has expressed this so that it appeals to all who share our common human nature, and who will take the trouble to cultivate their minds, their senses, their feelings, and their wills. This perhaps is only saying at length what Mr. Maurice Hewlett once

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