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the contemporary conception of the ode as form in English poetry, clear, well-defined, and vital. It is this conception which has prevented us from including a number of reflective lyrics in this collection. Many reflective lyrics are, if we take subject matter, melody, and emotional value as criteria, odes in everything but name. Much of Emerson and of Matthew Arnold, without any very serious wrench to either form or popular conception, might be classed as odes. We have not done violence to the form as the poets have conceived it.

A second division of the subject remains to be treated. Shelley's most famous odes are not the ode To Liberty and To Venice. They are To a Skylark and the Ode to the West Wind. In the first two he has written English odes in the approved form. In the second two the lyrical ode has made its most lyrical manifestation. They are, however, examples of the ode in regular stanzas which has been present in our poetry from the beginning. Keats, for example, seems to occupy a beautiful middle ground. His dignity and enthusiasm, his classic regularity of metre and evenness of line, give just the impression of the best English odes. It is the same end achieved by a different means. We have therefore included lyrical odes as well as pure odes in this collection. SONNETS.-An arrangement by authors shows of itself all that is needful as regards the history of the sonnet in English. To the popular mind the great divisions appear with the names of Shakespeare, Milton, and Wordsworth. To my mind, there is quite as much community between Milton and Wordsworth as between Wordsworth and Rossetti, another of the great sonneteers in our literature. The likeness is probably more in matter and tone than in form; for, as has often been pointed out, Milton does not make the important division between the octave and sestet as Wordsworth and Rossetti do, and is thus the creator of a form quite distinct and separate.

These are, however, only three or four of the forms which the sonnet has taken in English. The English or Shakespearian sonnet, invented by Surrey, prevails, of course, throughout Elizabethan times; but, selected though it was with the certainty of genius as the best possible form, it is only one of the various sonnet-patterns of Elizabethan times. The Spenserian sonnet is the only respectable rival, but hardly a successful one; for the Spenserian form loses rather than gains in the linking of its octave by rhyme, since the sestet is left without corresponding organization. The hybrid form followed by Drummond was without noticeable effect on the development of the sonnet, and Milton, who returned to Italian models, is the sonneteer of the earlier time whose influence has been greatest.

In the great mass of sonnet literature of the nineteenth century the Petrarchan form has prevailed; but it is only fair to say that it has been used very freely. A sonnet is doubtless usually better when one of the recognized forms has been followed closely; but in making up this collection we have chosen such sonnets as we considered masterpieces, without questioning too narrowly their strict conformity to one model or another.

Milton and Wordsworth, following the lead of Shakespeare in a few of his sonnets, have wrought a far greater change in the sonnet than any mere change in form; for they have brought it about that the great body of sonnet-literature in English is no longer prevailingly amatory, as it was during the first great sonnet period. The sonnet has become a medium for the expression of lofty ideas concerning life, death, and destiny. The “soul-animating strains” of which Wordsworth speaks have sounded through its narrow compass. It has thus achieved an elevation, an impersonality, a purposeful dignity comparable to the ode. The juxtaposition of odes and sonnets in this volume will not therefore be found unfitting.

Such a collection as this may be found much too small; for if once you descend below the very highest level in Elizabethan literature, not to speak of nineteenth-century literature, you find yourself embarrassed and unable to choose, lost as you are in the profusion which surrounds you. EPIGRAMS.-Room has also been found in this volume for a small collection of epigrams. We have not hunted them out very carefully, but have taken only those which forced themselves upon our attention as we looked for more important forms. There is no great stock of epigrams in English, mainly because our great epigrammatists did not leave their epigrams, as rounded pebbles, loose in the field of literature, but made them into great conglomerates of rhyming couplets, like Mac Flecknoe and the Essay on Man. This collection has no very strict basal principle; it is chosen by feeling, and many of the bits here would not fulfil the narrow requirements as to wit, or paronomasia, laid down by writers on this subject. They are, however, delicately finished little poems whose appeal is usually intellectual rather than emotional; they emphasize, set off, or indicate a relationship in the world of thought. Their unity is absolute, their point keen, their emphasis intense.

In each of the collections which this volume contains one is struck as much by the names which do not appear as by those which do. Some of the greatest poets have not been ode-writers, or sonneteers, or epigrammatists.


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