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AMERICAN POETRY has hitherto been little more
than a happy accident, and seems to have arisen in spite of the practical tendencies of our country, and the prosaic character of our time. It has been produced mostly by minds devoted to sterner studies, and in brief intervals of leisure, snatched from more engrossing toils. The intellectual energy of our land, has as yet consecrated itself, perhaps too exclusively to the mighty work of preparing a spacious home for the thronging multitudes of our population, and building up for their protection, a great national polity. The main part of our poetical literature, therefore, has been oc.
casional and fugitive. It has usually come before the public eye in small detached portions, with slight pretension to permanence in the form of its publication, and has been rescued from speedy oblivion only by its own beauty and power. The genius of the artist, and the liberality of the publisher, have done far too little towards presenting in an attractive shape, and with due advantages the finest productions of our poets. We have left our pearls unstrung. We have made few attempts to heighten the brilliancy of our gems, by the beauty of their setting. This is to be regretted; and the design of the present volume, is in some degree, to repair the deficiency.
The spirited and graceful sketches designed and executed expressly for this work, by one of our most distinguished artists, are of themselves, elegant and attractive; and their beauty and delicacy are strikingly conspicuous, when seen beside the effusions of fancy and feeling which they are intended to illustrate and adorn. No collection of
American Poetry has, to the knowledge of the Editor, been hitherto presented to the public with a like claim — independent of its literary meritupon their attention and favour. Should the reception of this volume be such as may reasonably be anticipated, it is the intention of its publisher to issue another similar in character and style. Ample materials, untouched in the present work, are at hand, and the Editor will embrace with pleasure, an opportunity of presenting specimens from the pens of many writers not represented in the present collection.
Of the literary character of this work, it is not necessary that the Editor should speak. He has sought to present in a fitting form, some of the finest specimens - the true spirit of American Poetry; and if he has not failed in his attempt, the volume surely is worthy of perusal and preservation. He commends it then to the library and the boudoir. He trusts that the bright glance of the beautiful and the accomplished, will al
ways rest upon its pages with pleasure, and that even the sobriety of scholarship, and the sternness of criticism, will sometimes kindle into the enthusiasm of praise.