Page images
PDF
EPUB

VERS DE SOCIÉTÉ

SELECTED FROM RECENT AUTHORS

BY

CHARLES H. JONES

WITUI ILLUSTRATED TITLE AND VIGNETTES

DRAWY BY

JOHN A. MITCHELL

AND ENGRAVED
BY HENRY MARSH

NEW YORK
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by

HENRY HOLT,
In the Onice of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

JUHN F. Trow & Son, Printers,

203-213 EAST 12111 Sr., New York, Maclauchlan, Stereotyper, 145 & 147 Mulberry St., near Grand, N. Y.

PRE FACE.

As the title which, for want of a better, has been A given to this book does not explain itself as lucidly as could be wished, it will be acceptable to the reader, perhaps, if the Editor attempts here what it was necessary for him to do in his own mind at the very beginning of his task, namely, to frame a correct or at least intelligible definition of what is meant by vers de société. Fortunately, as he discovered after the present collection was nearly completed, such a definition has been furnished by Mr. Frederick Locker, himself probably the most sympathetic student, as he is certainly second to none as a writer, of this species of verse. In the Introduction to his “ Lyra Elegantiarum " he says : “ Lest any reader who may not be familiar with this description of poetry should be misled by the adoption of the French title, which the absence of any precise English equivalent renders necessary, it may be as well to observe that vers de société need by no means be confined to topics of artificial life. Subjects of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

the most exalted and of the most trivial character may be treated with equal success, provided the manner of their treatment is in accordance with the following characteristics. Genuine qers de sociitú and vers d'occasion should be short, elegant, refined, and fanciful, not seldom distinguished by chastened senliment, and often playful. The tone should not be pitched high ; it should be idiomatic, and rather in the conversational key; the rhythm should be crisp and sparkling, and the rhyme frequent and nerver forced, while the entire poem should be marked by tasteful moderation, high finish, and completeness ; for, however trivial the subject-matter may be, indeed rather in proportion to its triviality, subordination to the rules of composition and perfection of execution should be strictly enforced. The definition may be further illustrated by a few examples of pieces which, from the absence of some of the foregoing qualities, or from the excess of others, cannot be properly classed as vers de société, though they may bear a certain generic resemblance to that species of poetry. The ballad of John Gilpin,' for instance, is too broadly and simply humorous ; Swift's

Lines on the Death of Marlborough,' and Byron's "Windsor Poetics,' are too savage and truculent; Cowper's “My Mary' is far too pathetic; IIerrick's lyrics to "Blossoms' and 'Daffodils' are too elevated; “Sally in our Alley' is too homely, and

« PreviousContinue »