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O one who knows and loves
English poetry can fail to regret that so many cultivated readers have turned away from a fountain of refreshment so abundant, and that so many other readers, who would find delight in poetry if they knew it well, are leaving out of their lives so powerful an influence against the materializing tendency of the age. The selection of poetry presented in this volume has no more ambitious purpose than to bring together in convenient form a small body of verse in English of the highest quality ;
verse which appeals with equal force to those whose prime interest is in perfection of form and to those to whom poetry is the inevitable language of the human spirit in its moments of exaltation. No attempt has been made to give the selection a representative character other than that secured by bringing together the different verse forms; and even in this respect the choice has only followed the line of the most beautiful and memorable poetry. In the Introductions the endeavor has been made to set the poems in their environment, so to speak, by sketching briefly the development of the poem and of the poet; by bringing together the facts which throw light on the making of the poem; and by pointing out the characteristic qualities not only of the selections but of the verse forms of which they are examples.