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PREFACE.

We occasionally hear it said-chiefly, perhaps, by those people whose interest in poetry is limited to the works of writers who are talked about—that there are no poets now. The truth of the matter is that the reverse is the case, for it may be doubted whether at any time there have been so many writers possessed of the rare power of expressing themselves in poetry, whether at any time so many men and women have been gifted with the inspiration, or have mastered the art. In a comparatively arid poetic era, two or three or more poetical giants hold the attention as a group of trees may in a flat country, where such trees might seem less remarkable surrounded by many of their fellows of varying size.

“If all the world were eagles, what of that?

The wonder of the eagle were the less,
But he no less the eagle."

It has grown to be something of a custom to decry a living poet, to dub him off hand as a minor poet-a silly classification, born of the fashion for labelling everything and everybody in grades of comparison. A poet may have written but one piece of the right sort, he may have given us but a handful of dainty delights, or he may have given us poetic works that in their collected form run to many volumes, yet he has proved himself worthy of his title without the prefixing of any belittling adjective. Compared with the greatest—Shakespeare, Dante, and a few more and even over the nominating of half a dozen greatest the critics would set aʼquarrelling-all others would rank as minor poets. Let us rejoice that we have the singers without trying to "place" them like candidates in a competitive examination. And let us recognise such singers and do justice to them while they are yet

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A little girl of eight, bringing her father a letter, asked with the inquisitiveness of childhood who it was from, and on being told that it was from Mr. So-andso, a well-known poet, commented with wide eyes, “I thought all poets were dead!” Quite unconsciously she was expressing something of a truth, for it has often been the lot of a poet to lack recognition, or to be lauded for the less excellent manifestation of his genius, during lifetime, leaving the truest expression of himself only to be fully known as such afterwards.

Shelley many years ago declared in effect that this was the rule of the world with regard to its poets when he said, “Even in modern times no living poet ever arrived at the fulness of his fame.” In the generation of poets following on that to which Shelley belonged, this could no longer have been regarded as strictly true, for Tennyson, it may be believed, did see the fulness of his fame, though generally speaking it may be regarded as accurate, Of the two dominant living poets of the day, one, after much misunderstanding, has attained the fullest recognition while yet happily with us, and the other, after long years of neglect, has now but partially reached that fulness of fame which will yet be his. These two men may be said to be the dominant poets, both from the fulness of their work, and from the fact that no one can make a wide reading among the works of the younger writers of poetry without recognising the extent of their influence; but apart from them, we have a wonderful body of poetry of a peculiar richness. Indeed, it may be doubted whether at any other period there could have been gathered within one cover representative work from so many sterling poets all living at the same time as at the present. This, be it said at once, does not pretend to be a completely representative selection. Completeness is indeed in such a work impossible. There are several poets whose work has for one reason or another had to be passed over; there are others, no doubt, who have been overlooked, either inadvertently or owing to the fact that such a book as this has its physical limits. More poets might have been represented had each been more briefly selected, but the object of the collection would then have been partly defeated, for that object was not only to indicate something of the number of our living poets, but also to show them in their most characteristic work, and, as a consequence, in a certain measure to illustrate at once the range of the poetical expression of the time, and something of the thought of the time as rendered in poetry. For this reason, too, pieces have been given longer than those generally associated with the idea of an anthology.

Such a book would not, of course, have been possible without the kindly co-operation of the poets cited, to each one of whom the Editor is greatly indebted, not only for permission to quote from his works but also for giving carte blanche in the matter of selection. Like indebtedness to the publishers of the various volumes from which the poems have been quoted is cordially acknowledged. The Editor is alone responsible for the selection of the different poems by which the various writers are represented. It is inevitable that a selection of the kind must in a measure represent the individual preference of the compiler, and he can only trust that his idiosyncrasies are not such as to make his collection anything but fairly representative according to the average taste of those who delight in all manifestations of the poetic spirit.

It is to be hoped that those critics who believe there are indications of a fuller interest in the poetry of the time are justified, and it may also be hoped that this anthology will send many readers to the numerous volumes from which its pieces have been culled, that Sir Philip Sidney's reproach shall in time cease to be applicable, and we no longer have to wonder “Why England should be growne so hard a stepmother to Poets."

After the volume was completed, the untimely death of Mr. H. D. Lowry made it necessary to omit four poems which had been selected to represent his markedly individual work. He was a man of

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