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Preface

I AM very glad to follow the suggestion of a more ambitious compiler and acknowledge how much I owe for an appreciation of poetry to the undergraduates of Trinity College, Oxford. My friendship with them has taught me what a great lack we are to have in our American life unless a larger number of boys before their school days are over cultivate a love for poetry and poetry reading.

So my first purpose in making this collection has been to bring together in a convenient volume from all poets using the English language the verse which mature boys enjoy reading. My hope is that the use of such a book will help to cultivate that love for poetic things in life which is inherent in the hearts of all boys. As far as poetry goes, however, this love too often either remains unawakened or is stifled by the obligatory use of school readers. In many other ways this natural love for poetic things is checked by the materialistic tendency of North American life. This book is not an introduction to poetry, nor an illustration of the development

of poetic thought and literature; the humble desire of the compiler will be satisfied if it brings boys to an appreciation of the Oxford Book of English Verse and the Golden Treasury, as the next step in their poetic education.

I want to emphasize that this is a book for older boys. I have had constantly in mind the thousands of boys in the three upper classes of Canadian and American schools whom I have had the privilege of knowing. We have little literature for this period. Most books for boys are childish and those about boys deal with juveniles, and after that the chief interest of authors seems to be with adults.

A witty contemporary English writer calls the preface to one of his books a first aid to critics. In that sense I must, I suppose, say a word here about my method of choice, for I shall not expect this collection to give universal satisfaction. What should be included has been determined chiefly by what I liked during my school days and by what I find boys of the present generation enjoy reading and hearing read. I have passed by some poems because they are too familiar; some because they should have been read at a younger age; many because they may better be read in more general collections; a few — that I grieve to omit - because their publication is hindered by impossible copyright restrictions. Except

for this last group, if one asks why this or that poem is not here, I can merely say this or that is not included in the many scores of volumes that I have browsed among, or else in my humble judgment it is not in harmony with the aim of this book.

To schoolmasters, parents, camp leaders, and social and religious workers I would heartily recommend the practise of reading aloud these and similar poems to groups of boys. They are often more effective for entertainment and inspiration than stories. I hope some boys will form the habit of carrying in their pockets such a little volume on excursions and camping trips, and I could wish for no other payment for my labor than to be invited to sit around some of the evening fires of summer and winter camps where so many thousand American youth are flocking and to listen once more to these stirring songs.

D. R. P. NOVEMBER, 1911

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