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EDWARD CHAUNCEY BALDWIN, PH.D.
HARRY G. PAUL, A.M.
ASSISTANT PROFESSORS OF ENGLISH LITERATURE
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
NEW YORK.::CINCINNATI.:: CHICAGO
To put forth a new anthology just now may seem to imply on the part of the editors a talent for the malapropos that falls little short of positive genius. The editors have, however, felt the need in their own work of an anthology which should combine measurable completeness with an amount of editing sufficient for supplying needed help to the student, and for furnishing material for classroom work.
In the selection of poems the primary aim has been to include the most representative work of the chief British poets, from Chaucer to Tennyson, with a view to presenting material which should at the same time be representative of the successive periods of English literary history and, within certain limitations, of the chief types of poetry. For obvious reasons the drama is wholly unrepresented, and the epic somewhat inadequately by excerpts. That these excerpts are taken from epics less well known than Paradise Lost is due to the fact that in the opinion of the editors Paradise Lost would lose by being represented by citations even more than do The Faerie Queene and Hudibras. As a secondary aim the editors have endeavored to include such poems as lend themselves to comparative study. In some instances these two purposes have conflicted. The inclusion, for example, of Lamb's Sonnet XI instead of his more famous as well as more representative The Old Familiar Faces is partly inconsistent with the general plan of the book, and must seek its justification in the interesting comparison the Sonnet affords with other poems expressing the same sense of the holiness of childhood.
The editors are quite aware that in the case of many of the minor poems the wisdom of their choice will be questioned.