Imagini ale paginilor
[merged small][graphic][merged small]




FRESH edition of the late Mr. Robertson's sonnet anthology being now required, I have been asked by the publishers to write a short

preface, and to suggest any alterations or

additions that may appear to be desirable. The compiler, however, would seem to have done his work so admirably that it would manifestly be doing injustice to his selection if any extensive alterations were made therein, and I have therefore restricted myself to suggesting that the following eight sonnets should be added: (1) Wordsworth's “To Toussaint L'Ouverture”; (2) Shelley's “Ye hasten to the dead! What seek ye ) there "; (3) Lord Hanmer's “ The Old Fisher” and (4) “The Pine Woods”; (5) Aubrey de Vere's “Sorrow”; (6) W. B. Scott's “ The Universe Void”; (7) Wilfrid Scawen Blunt's “ The Sublime”; and (8) Rupert Brooke's “ The Soldier."

The first of these is universally admitted to be one of Wordsworth's finest sonnets, and the second by Shelley is little, if at all, inferior to it. The two by Lord Hanmer were greatly admired by my late friend and colleague Austin Dobson, and more especially the graphic description of “ The Old Fisher,” which is almost unique in its vivid simplicity. Mr. Blunt's sonnet " The Sublime” has been described as



[ocr errors]

and majestic,” and it has for some time been regarded as not unworthy to be classed with such famous sonnets as Milton's “ Massacre in Piedmont," Shelley's “ Ozymandias," and Wordsworth's “ On Westminster Bridge." “ The Soldier," by Rupert Brooke, although written so recently, has already become a general favourite, and has been so often quoted and referred to that no representative collection of English sonnets could now be considered satisfactory or complete which did not include it.

It will be noted that the late Mr. Robertson's original preface is reprinted exactly as it appeared in the first edition; and that no alterations have been

l made in the text beyond the slight additions above mentioned.

Acknowledgment is due to the author and to Messrs. Macmillan & Co., Ltd., for permission to print the double sonnet « The Sublime” from the Poetical Works of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1914); also to Messrs. Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., and the John Lane Company, New York, for permission to include “ The Soldier” from 1914 and Other Poems, by Rupert Brooke.

It is to be hoped that this second edition of Mr. Robertson's anthology may prove as successful as the first, and that the volume may eventually become the permanent standard collection of English sonnets.



January 1, 1922



T lies wholly outside the scope of a popular collection such as this to provide an essay on the history, structure, and development of the

Sonnet. In like manner, literary annotations, whether biographical or critical, have been excluded. My commission was simply to make an anthology of some 230 sonnets from the whole range of English literature, giving, however, a friendly preference to the work of recent and living authors. At the last moment, the number of sonnets was slightly increased, enabling me to make the representation of our greater poets, such as Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Rossetti, more adequate, and thus securing a better balance for the collection.

Were any apology needed for the appearance of such a volume, it would be found in the fact that sonnet-books are at present very scarce and difficult to procure, those of Leigh Hunt, Dennis, Main, Mr. Waddington, Mr. Hall Caine, and Mr. S. Wellwood being all out of print. Sharp's ever popular Sonnets of the Nineteenth Century is still in circulation, but it necessarily covers only a limited part of the field, and supplies the reader with no examples of our early sonnet-literature, or of that which has been appearing

of late. On the other hand, Sir A. Quiller-Couch's English Sonnets (1897) and Mr. Bowyer Nichols' Little Book of English Sonnets (1903) stop short, the one with Mrs. Browning, the other with Keats and Hood.

In these circumstances, it is hoped that the present volume, containing, as it does, about 140 copyright sonnets in addition to the best of an earlier age, may obtain something more than a passing glance from genuine lovers of poetry. Whatever its faults, it can at least lay claim to the merit of making readily accessible to general readers a large number of beautiful poems in a form of verse which has ever been chief favourite with our great masters for the expression of their most intimate and elevated thoughts. To all who have favoured me with their kind

permission to reprint copyright sonnets, I desire to express here my most grateful thanks: namely, to—The Hon. Maurice Baring; the Dean of Norwich (H. C. Beeching); Mr. A. C. Benson (and his publisher, Mr. John Lane); Mr. Laurence Binyon ; Mr. Wilfrid Scawen Blunt; Mr. Robert Bridges (and his publishers, Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co.); Mr. W. L. Courtney; Lord Alfred Douglas ; Mr. Edmund Gosse; Mr. Maurice Hewlett; Mr. Edmond Holmes ; Mr. Ernest Myers ; Mr. John Payne; Canon Rawnsley ; Mr. Samuel Waddington; Dr. T. Herbert Warren (President of Magdalen College, Oxford); Mr. William Watson; Mr. A. St. John Adcock, for “Outside


« ÎnapoiContinuă »