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UNDER the title GOLDEN Apples of HESPERUS I lately printed a limited edition (only 225 copies) of “Poems not in the Collections,” meaning the general selections accessible to the ordinary readers not really students of English poetry. The present book is but in part a reprint of that. Half the wood-cuts omitted, some new ones are given; and instead of poems of the 19th century, additional poems of the 16th and 17th centuries, with a selection from the anonymous writings of the same period, out of early miscellanies, or from reprints by Park, Ellis, Collier, Arber, &c. The Notes are all new.
Some very few of these contents of my book may possibly be found in one or other anthology, escaping my search ; half a dozen in Ward's English Poets, 1880 (obtained after I had arranged my work), I have thought it worth while to retain, for reasons stated in my Notes. Of the Anonymous Poems, one or two, now and then accidentally appearing in some out of the way collection, I have repeated for the sake of nearer completeness of this division of my subject. My book here meets a want, whether to be accounted for by the insufficient industry of collectors, or for other reasons, I need not care to determine. It is enough to state the fact, while redeeming so much of neglected worth as may be within reach of one who claims not scholarship, but dares to call himself a lover of the old writers.
Toward a correct text I have done all an unlearned man is able to do, taking for guide the belief that our poets were not
writers of nonsense. My book meant for the general reader, old spelling is preserved only in those few places in which the modernizing would disturb either the measure or the rhyme: e.g: — (pp. 1-2) herbis, stalkis, thingis; mene for moan, and (p. 6) hert for heart. For old spelling else, beyond antiquarian interest, I have no more respect than for printers' points. There were no established rules in those days: authors were lawless; careless or uncertain even as to their proper names. “Our ancestors, finding it absolutely impossible to adopt any consistent mode of orthography, fairly left it to the discretion or caprice of the several writers and transcribers.” (ELLISIntroductory Remarks on Language.) There is applicable truth too in the confession of the printer of Sidney's Arcadia, that “ being spred abroade in written coppies" (note here the spelling revised !) much corruption had been gathered by ill writers. For punctuation, since Arber, Ellis, Collier (it may be closely following the copy before them), to say nothing of editors not so accomplished, do, sometimes, play havoc with their author's meaning, I have ventured to judge for myself; and to punctuate according to context and the obvious or the seeming intention of the writer. All important changes will be acknowledged in the Notes. I ask the more learned student's mercy where I go wrong.
New-Haven, Conn., U. S. A.
SONNET — Blame me not