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O far as the Editor is aware, this is the first attempt that has been made to bring together in one volume specimens of the serious poetry of living writers only. Other collections have been partially indebted to the aid of contemporary authors. The Editor was himself largely assisted by them in the arrangement of his "Lyrics of Love," and was wholly obliged to them in his "Comic Poets of the Nineteenth Century." But whereas the latter work was confined to the poetry of wit and humour, the present is devoted to the poetry of sentiment and reflection. It is therefore unique in aim and character, and will, it is hoped, receive a proportionately hearty welcome.
The collection does not profess to be representative of living poets in the sense of illustrating exhaustively their peculiar powers. The Editor's desire has been. rather to avoid the poems which are generally adduced as specimens of the writers' style of thought and of expression, in favour of those which, whilst still characteristic of their authors, have the merit of
being at least comparatively fresh and novel. To the best of his belief, this volume does not contain more than half a dozen poems which have appeared in any previous collection. Some favourite pieces may consequently be found absent from it, but, on the other hand, the book is full of lyrics which, if not familiar to the general reader, ought to be so, and need only to be read to be admired.
In pursuance of this effort towards novelty and freshness, the Editor has gone not only to the recent works of our more celebrated poets, but to the publications of several writers who have only of late years made their reputations. In consequence, many names appear in this volume which have not hitherto figured in such works, and the result, it is believed, will be agreeable to the reader.
Another feature of the present work is the attention paid, for the first time, to the late re-introduction into English poetry of old French measures. Some English specimens of these have been selected, and form the third book of the "Lyrics." Mr. Austin Dobson-in whose "Proverbs in Porcelain " they first attracted notice—has, at the Editor's request, kindly contributed a short "Note" in illustration and description of them, which will be found (the Editor believes) both valuable and interesting, even by those who may not altogether approve of the nationalisation in this country of the forms in question.
The arrangement of the poems is as follows. In the first place, the songs and other lyrics have been separated from the sonnets, which cannot strictly be described as lyrical in character; whilst the foreign forms have been gathered together in Book III., according to an order which enables them to be read in easy connection with Mr. Dobson's "Note." Further, in placing the poems in Books I. and II., care has been exercised in bringing together pieces which illustrate one another, either in the way of similarity or contrast in idea or form.
A few Notes have been added, and will be found, it is hoped, useful and suggestive; they have obviously no pretensions to the character of exhaustive criticisms.
The Editor has, in conclusion, to express his gratitude to the poets who have so generously placed their poems at his disposal, notably to those who have permitted him to publish several hitherto unprinted pieces (Nos. 182, 183, 206, 208, 210, 211, 213, 217, 219, 222). He has also to thank those publishers who have in like manner courteously waived their copyright in regard to certain of the poems quoted.
W. DAVENPORT ADAMS.