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the Castle of Indolence; nay, from Ariel in the Tempest, to his somewhat presumptuous namesake in the Rape of the Lock. And passages, both from Thomson's delightful allegory, and Pope's paragon of mock-heroics, would have been found in this volume, but for that intentional, artificial imitation, even in the former, which removes them at too great a distance from the highest sources of inspiration.
With the great poet of the Faerie Queene the Editor has taken special pains to make readers in general better acquainted; and in furtherance of this purpose he has exhibited many of his best passages in remarkable relation to the art of the Painter.
For obvious reasons no living writer is included; and some, lately deceased, do not come within the plan. The omission will not be thought invidious in an Editor, who has said more of his contemporaries than most men; and who would gladly give specimens of the latter poets in future volumes.
One of the objects indeed of this preface is to state that should the public evince a willingness to have more such books, the Editor would propose to give them, in succession, corresponding volumes of the. Poetry of Action and Passion (Narrative and Dra
matic Poetry), from Chaucer to Campbell (here mentioned because he is the latest deceased poet); - the Poetry of Contemplation, from Surrey to Campbell; -the Poetry of Wit and Humour, from Chaucer to Byron; and the Poetry of Song, or Lyrical Poetry, from Chaucer again (see in his Works his admirable and only song, beginning
Hide, Absalom, thy gilded tresses clear) to Campbell again, and Burns, and O'Keefe. These volumes if he is not mistaken, would present the Public with the only selection, hitherto made, of none but genuine poetry; and he would take care, that it should be unobjectionable in every other respect.*
KENSINGTON, Sept. 10, 1844.
* While closing the Essay on Poetry, a friend lent me Coleridge's Biographia Literaria, which I had not seen for many years, and which I mention, partly to notice a coincidence at page 44 of the Essay, not otherwise worth observation; and partly to do what I can towards extending the acquaintance of the public with a book containing masterly expositions of the art of poetry.
AN ANSWER TO THE QUESTION, "WHAT IS POETRY?"