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The name of this work, “Library," implies exactly its scope and function. That it is a single small unit instead of countless volumes does not impair in the slightest the underlying idea that it is a "library" of poetry. Such a book might serve as a book of reference: to identify a fugitive line; to verify an uncertain phrase; to discover a suitable quotation; to complete a familiar item; to place promptly and accurately any poetry that occupies a permanent nook in English literature, from the time of Chaucer to to-day.
Such a book might serve as a comprehensive exhibit of poetic literature. The history, growth, and condition of poetry from decade to decade. It is like a panorama -vast in size, intimate in detail of the poetic thoughts and feelings of modern mankind. It reveals the changes in style; the vanity of taste; all the nuances of the harmony in men's thoughts.
Above all such a book might serve as a companion at the will of its possessor, for every mood. Poetry in the rôle of companionship is serving its noblest purpose. It is the joy of reading aloud to your children, to see them respond to the beautiful simplicity of rhyme. It is the solace of loneliness. It is the culture of the home. It is thought and fancy and imagination.
The original editor of this work was William Cullen Bryant, himself one of the illustrious company of poets. He brought to the task his great knowledge, broad sympathies, and skill as the editor of a great metropolitan newspaper. As Bryant's “Library of Poetry and Song" grew, as the folios mounted into the hundreds, it was found that the actual achievement surpassed the conception. The book promptly assumed its place as one of the most important and popular books of its day. This is the solid foundation of the present work.
It is now over two score years since Bryant's death. Yet the poetry that he skillfully collected and classified is immortal; so in this work all the original assemblage has been retained. With the increasing years new poets have flourished. The world's treasury of poetry and song has acquired additional stores. Therefore, in issuing anew “The Library,” it has been augmented and enlarged by a supplement of modern verse and song.
In its present form, this “Library” is believed to be one of the most complete of all the anthologies. But despite its almost immeasurable scope every item is instantly available, and your ready use of the book is assured by the different classifications and indices.
Garden City, N. Y., 1925
POEMS AND FRAGMENTS.