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PREFACE

This selection is planned for children between nine or ten, and fifteen or sixteen years of age ; the pleasure and advantage of the older students in Elementary, and the younger in Grammar and Public Schools, being especially kept in view. As it is meant for their own possession and study, not less than for use as a class-book in the teacher's hand, sufficient notes (it is thought) have been added to render the volume by itself fairly comprehensible to children of average intelligence : and the editor hopes that this object may be his excuse with those who may consider the annotations too numerous.

The scheme of choice followed has produced a selection different from any known to the editor. Suitability to childhood is, of course, the common principle of all. But, this quality secured (so far as individual judgment can), nothing has been here admitted which does not reach a high rank in poetical merit ; and the available stores of English poetry have been carefully reviewed for the purpose. The editor's wish has been to collect all songs, narratives, descriptions, or reflective pieces of a lyrical quality, fit to give pleasure, --high, pure, manly, and therefore lasting)— to children in the stage between early childhood and early youth; and no pieces which are not of this character. Poetry, for poetry's sake, is what

he offers. To illustrate the history of our literature, to furnish specimens of leading or of lessknown poets, to give useful lessons for this or the other life, to encourage a patriotic tempereach an aim fit to form the guiding principle of a selection-have here only an indirect and subsidiary recognition. It is, however, believed that, so far as the scope of the book coincides with such other aims, they may be more effectually served through the powerful operation of really good poetry, than when made the main object of a collection.

The standard of 'merit as poetry' (so far as the editor, aided by some friends distinguished by good judgment and scholarship, may have been successful in preserving it), has excluded a certain number of popular favourites. But the standard of 'suitability to childhood, as here understood, has excluded many more pieces : pictures of life as it seems to middle-age--poems coloured by sentimentalism or morbid melancholy, however attractive to readers no longer children-love as personal passion or regret (not love as the groundwork of action)artificial or highly allusive language-have, as a rule, been held unfit. The aim has been to shun scenes and sentiments alien from the temper of average healthy childhood, and hence of greater intrinsical difficulty than poems containing unusual words. Hence, although the rules of choice have given this book, as compared with many of its predecessors, an unfamiliar air, yet it is believed that the contents will in fact prove ultimately at least as comprehensible to children between the ages specified

Poems suitable for readers in the latter half of these years are marked with a star in the index. Some pieces will be found admitted as examples leading up to the poetry appropriate to later education and the experience of life ; but, looking to the small size of the collection, it has not been thought desirable to attempt ranging the contents in order of composition or of relative difficulty.

A few omissions have been made in order to render a poem more suitable for childhood, or to escape encroachment on the field of distinctly devotional verse; others, more copiously, when the poem could be thus strengthened in a vivid effectiveness. The North-country Ballads have thus been greatly shortened; a child (in the editor's judgment), especially one unfamiliar with dialect, being more likely to appreciate afterwards their charming antique garrulity, and the repetitions of phrase proper to orally-published poetry, if presented first with a tale in our more condensed modern manner. When, as here, poetry for poetry's sake is concerned, extracts in general appear wholly unsatisfactory to the editor ; they are like fragments barbarously broken from statues. Such only have, therefore, been included which form in themselves complete works of art.

For some pieces, the editor has to thank the liberality of the copyright owners; regretting the refusal by which the present publisher of Mr. Alfred Tennyson's poems has deprived this book of a few brilliant pages, and its readers of an introduction to the writings of our greatest living poet.

The rule that no piece should be admitted, unless reaching a high rank in poetical merit, if carried

out successfully, will have rendered this book fit also for older readers. Such will know that the treasures here collected are but a few drops from an ocean, unequalled in wealth and variety by any existing literature; that many illustrious names are, necessarily, altogether absent ; that many others receive but a meagre and imperfect representation. Among the five (surviving) Imperial poets of the Western world, England claims two ; but how faintly does a selection, limited as this, present the splendour of Shakespeare and Milton ! Descending one or two steps, if Wordsworth and Scott, within this century, are fairly shown in a single region of their power, Keats, Shelley, Byron, Crabbe, on different grounds, must be nearly or wholly undisplayed. But, in truth, no selection should be planned or accepted as able to do more than open a glimpse into the • Elysian fields' of song. Pleasant as has been the task of forming this book, in the hope that it may, in itself, prove a pleasure and a gain to the dear English and English-speaking children, all the world over,-yet the editor will hold his work but half fulfilled, unless they are tempted by it to go on and wander, in whatever direction their fancy may lead them, through the roads and winding ways of this great and glorious world of English poetry. He aims only at showing them the path, and giving them a little foretaste of our treasures:To-morrow to fresh woods, and pastures new.

F. T. P. MAY: 1875

The Children's Treasury

FIRST PART

* I *

A LAUGHING SONG WHEN the green woods laugh with the voice of joy, And the dimpling stream runs laughing by; When the air does laugh with our merry wit, And the green hill laughs with the noise of it ;

When the meadows laugh with lively green, 5
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene ;
When Mary, and Susan, and Emily,
With their sweet round mouths sing, ‘Ha, ha, he !'

When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread : 10
Come live, and be merry, and join with me
To sing the sweet chorus of ‘Ha, ha, he !'

W. Blake

* 2 *

THE PET LAMB

The dew was falling fast, the stars began to blink ; I heard a voice; it said, “ Drink, pretty creature,

drink!' And looking o'er the hedge, before me I espied A snow-white mountain lamb, with a maiden at its side.

B

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