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PREFACE

A HUNDRED years ago, when Scott, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Coleridge, and Wordsworth were in their prime, the lovers of books were more interested in new poetry than in any other form of literary production. Down to the middle of the last century this interest survived, for the masterpieces of Tennyson and Browning were still coming from the press. To-day we have no great poets, the reading public is mainly interested in novels, and it is to be feared that the rising generation will entirely lose the taste for poetry. It has seemed to me that one way towards resuscitating that most excellent taste would be to make an anthology of some of the best poems in the language. The Golden Treasury and the Oxford Book of Verse are excellent in their way, but they cover too wide a field to answer my purpose, and they include a good deal of poetry which is either second-rate or which, in the course of years, has lost its original flavor. I have limited my selection to a hundred poems because present-day readers prefer a small book to a large one; and for the same reason I have had to exclude many

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