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SELECTED AND EDITED, WITH ILLUSTRATIVE AND
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND BIBLIOGRAPHIES
WALTER C. BRONSON, Litt.D.
Professor of English Literature, Brown University
THE ELIZABETHAN AGE AND
COPYRIGHT 1909 By
Published August 1909
Composed and Printed By
Chicago, Illinois, U. S. A.
PREFACE . This volume is the second in a series of four volumes of English Poems, intended especially for use with college classes. The principles governing the selection of poems, the editing of the texts, and the composition of the notes, in the series, were fully set forth in the Preface to Vol. IV, which was the first to appear, and they need not be repeated here at length. In brief, the method followed is (1) to choose poems representing the different phases of the work of poets and schools of poetry, without including an undue number of minor poets; (2) so far as possible to print entire poems or entire parts of poems; (3) to follow the latest accessible text approved by the author; (4) to modernize spelling and punctuation as a rule, but to retain the original spelling when change would affect rhyme or rhythm; (5) in the notes to explain difficulties of expression and allusion, give the poet's view of poetry in his own words, furnish material (chiefly variant readings and literary sources) which illustrate his mode of work, and throw some light, by means of extracts from contemporary criticism, upon the literary standards of different periods.
The application of this method necessarily varies with the nature of the material for each volume. In the present volume the great problem in the selection of poems was to represent at all adequately the poetic fertility of the Elizabethan Age as shown by the host of lesser poets, and yet save space enough for the supreme names of Spenser, Shakspere, and Milton. Two-fifths of the book was finally given to these three, and the remainder to some
sixty of the minor poets—a larger number than have been admitted into the other volumes of the series, but not larger in proportion to the full choir. Again, the question of texts has offered peculiar difficulties in many instances, where it is impossible to say what was the latest text approved by the author, if indeed he approved of any. In such cases, what seems intrinsically the best text has been adopted, or some standard text of acknowledged excellence has been followed. In regard to spelling, the temptation was even stronger than in Vol. III to reproduce the original editions without change; but such procedure might fairly be deemed pedantic in a book designed for immature students and the general reader, and would certainly prove to be of more inconvenience than benefit. The original spelling of Spenser, however, has been retained, since it was deliberately adopted by him as a part of the romantic archaism of his poetry; and for a like reason certain spellings and word-forms which were preferred by Milton have been kept.
I wish to renew my disclaimer of originality in the notes, and at the same time to repeat that even the best editions have not been followed blindly, that statements, references, and quotations have been verified whenever possible, and that some of the material is new or is brought together for the first time. I also acknowledge gratefully my obligations to the authorities of the Harvard College Library, of the Library of Heidelberg University, and of the Bodleian Library, for access to early editions and other valuable works; to Professor R. E. Neil Dodge and to Houghton, Mifflin & Co. for their courtesy in allowing me to use the text of the Cambridge Spenser; to Mr. Bertram Dobell for permission to print two of Traherne's poems; and to Mr. Earl N. Manchester, of the Brown University Library, for careful transcripts of variant readings in Milton. As in the volumes previously published, my wife has given constant and invaluable assistance by preparing copy, collating texts, reading proof, and translating from the Greek and Latin; the table of contents, the indices, and the glossary to Spenser were also made by her.