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PREFACE.

THE

HE Editor of the following Volume has, in compliance with the wishes of the Publishers, endeavoured to present her readers with "Gems" selected from all our chief National Poets. In doing this, she has tried to avoid as much as, possible, without serious loss, the most hackneyed passages of our elder bards; and has asked and obtained permission from our living poets to add to her "Gems from the Past" "Gems from the Present." Of course there is a difference of value between these jewels of thought. The Koh-i-noor has few, if any, equals; but, though differing in value, the diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire, topaz, or opal are all gems, and are all precious; and we thankfully accept them as they are presented to us.

To the Poets and Publishers who have given her permission to choose from their "jewels," the Editor now offers her sincere thanks; and her apologies, if by any possible chance a poem has been taken without permission, or a poet omitted from want of his address.

GEMS OF NATIONAL POETRY.

PART I.

DESCRIPTIVE AND NARRATIVE POETRY.

GEOFFREY CHAUCER.

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A PICTURE OF FAIR WOMEN.

AND as I sat, the birdis herk'ning thus,
Methought that I heard voicis sodainely,
The most swetist and most delicious
That evir any wight, I trowe trewly,
Heardin in ther life, for the armony
And swete accord was in so gode musike,
That the voicis to angels most were like.

At the last, out of a grove evin by,
That was right godely and pleasaunt to
sight,

I se where there came, singing lustily,
A world of ladies; but, to telle aright
Their beauty grete, it lieth not in my might,
Ne ther array; nevirthelesse I shall
Tell you a part, tho' I speke not of all.

The surcotes white, of velvet wele sittinge,
They werin cladde, and the semis ech one,
As it werin a mannir garnishinge,
Was set with emeraudis, one and one,
By and by; but many a richè stone
Was set on the purfilis, out of doute,
Of colours, sleves, and trainis round
aboute.

As of grete perlis rounde and orient,
And diamondis fine, and rubys redde,
And many othir stone, of which I went
The namis now; and everich on her hede
A rich fret of gold, which, withoutin dread,
Was ful of stately riche stonys set;
And every lady had a chapelet

On ther hedis of branches freshe and grene
So wele wrought and so marvelously,
That it was a right noble sight to sene;
Some of laurir, and some ful pleasantly
Had chapelets of wodebind, and sadly
Some of agnus castus werin also,
Chaplets freshe; but there were many
of tho

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