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“ It is no trifling good to win the ear of children with verses which foster in them the seeds of humanity, and tenderness, and piety; awaken their fancy, and exercise pleasurably and wholesomely their imaginative and meditative powers.
It is no trifling benefit to provide a ready mirror for the young, in which they may see their own best feelings reflected, and wherein whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely' are presented to them in the most attractive form. It is no trifling benefit to send abroad strains which may assist in preparing the heart for its trials and in supporting it under them."-Southey.
“ We are not proposing to train up poets or sentimentalists, but to replenish the mind with bright and available materials, such as shall impart to it an abundance of intellectual wealth, and give it breadth and elevation ; and by these natural means exclude whatever is frivolous, vulgar, selfish, or sensual.”Isaac Taylor.
TO THE FIRST EDITION.
In the course of his experience in tuition, the Editor of this little volume has often sought in vain for a selection of poems really adapted to the requirements of Childhood—including in this term the period between six years of age and eleven or twelve. There are, indeed, many valuable works already extant professing to supply this want; these, however, on trial, have been found to contain but a small quantity of that sort of poetry with which children can sympathize.“ The poetry which children choose," says the author of “Home Education," " is that which, with a light descriptive brevity, brings the familiar aspects of the visible world before the fancy; and that also which is simply and briskly narrative, and which is enlivened by turns of humour, and deepened by just moral sentiments, and especially by touches of pity." Such poetry has a tendency to give to the mind of a child that healthful tone which
pure air and open sunshine give to his body.
Should the selection now before the reader be found to approximate even to the idea which has just been presented of what such a book ought to be, the time and labour it has cost will be amply repaid.
Besides the advantages accruing to the taste and moral character from an early acquaintance with poetry, which are the greatest and most important, we must not pass over those which may be derived from it as a means of exercising and strengthening the memory, and of cultivating the graces of elocution. The attainment of these benefits will, however, depend, in some degree, upon the manner in which they are sought. The following remarks, suggested by experience, may, perhaps, be found useful.
When this book is used in schools, it is recommended that the lessons selected from it be learned simultaneously by small classes. An opportunity is thus afforded for giving that minute attention to the meaning and spirit of the poems which is an essential preparation for a just delivery, and for which otherwise, probably no time could be found. It
would be well for the teacher, in the first place, to read over to his pupils, with appropriate emphasis and expression, the passage to be committed to memory, asking questions on any words or allusions which may seem likely to occasion difficulty; he will then direct them to underline with pencil the words which require peculiar emphasis in the recital, and to ascertain, or “get up," before they repeat the lesson, the meaning of such words, phrases, and allusions as may need explanation. When he hears the lesson, he may call upon any member of the class to repeat the whole, or part of it, as may be convenient, occasionally dropping hints on peculiarities of pronunciation, and putting such questions as may serve to elicit the author's meaning, and to illustrate the ingenuity and taste of the composition. It is advisable, too, that references should be made from one poem to another where similar expressions or thoughts occur, or where the same subject is treated ; and that the poems that have been learned should be occasionally repeated and referred to in conversation or reading. These directions will appear unnecessarily minute only to those who do not know, by experience in teaching, the importance of attention to details.
Alterations have been made in the originals of some of the poems, in order to adapt them to the others, than is usually entertained, and believes, not on theory but from experience, that much more may be made of their minds by acting on this estimate than by treating them as mere babies.
It is gratifying to the Editor to believe, and to some extent to know, that thousands of children to whom schoolbooks generally are an aversion, have turned to this little book with ever increasing delight, and have found in it “a mirror in which their best feelings are reflected, and whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely,' presented to them in the most attractive form."
The present edition has been carefully revised and considerably enlarged by the insertion of several poems; for permission to use which the publishers are indebted to the generous kindness of Miss Ingelow; Robert Browning, Esq.; Alfred Tennyson, Esq.; the Rev. Canon Kingsley ; the Right Hon. Lord Houghton; William Allingham, Esq. ; Edward Capern, Esq.; and Messrs. Strahan & Co.
4 KILDARE GARDENS, W.
November 1, 1873.