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COPYRIGHT, 1907, 1909, 1916, BY
JOHN MATTHEWS MANLY
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The Athenxum Press
This book has been made in response to the wishes of teachers who need a collection of English prose and poetry in a single volume and who desire to have the selections provided with notes. It contains no selection not included in its predecessors, English Poetry (1170-1892) and English Prose (1137–1890). The condensation of the two volumes has been made with care, and it is believed that no selection has been omitted which is necessary in a rapid survey course.
For the texts previous to Chaucer translations have been made and printed side by side with the texts. These translations of course have not all the qualities of the originals, but an attempt has been made to preserve not only the metrical form but also the tone and general manner. Where the original had poor rhymes, or loose syntax, or undignified diction, such features have been permitted in the translation, though it was not always possible to reproduce each at the exact point of its appearance. The effort to preserve the tone of the original has often rendered the task of translation or paraphrase difficult because of the necessity of excluding ideas and sentiments foreign to the original as well as diction out of harmony with it.
The briefer and simpler notes are placed on the same page with the text, because the editor feels that turning frequently to the back of a book to consult notes or a glossary disturbs the reader's enjoyment and thereby interferes with, if it does not destroy, the effect of a piece of literature. The more elaborate notes, containing general information about the texts or authors, or discussing difficulties, or quoting interesting parallels, are placed at the end of the volume for the same reason - that is, to avoid interference with the enjoyment of the reader while he is engaged in reading. They may be consulted beforehand, in preparation for reading, or later, in explanation of difficulties that have not been solved by the reader himself. In the case of a few poems, the notes are purposely elaborate, because the poems themselves are either especially difficult, or especially suggestive in diction, or especially loaded with allusions; but in general the editor has striven to keep the annotations down to a practical minimum. That he has not always succeeded in this effort, he is only too well aware. There are many of the notes which he himself would disregard in reading and in teaching. But no one has yet discovered exactly what number of grains of sand makes a heap, and the present editor has not even been able to maintain strict consistency in regard to what knowledge may safely be assumed as possessed by students or easily accessible to them.
Every student of English should possess a copy of Webster's Secondary Sch; tionary or the Standard Desk Dictionary. Either one of these excellent r'
will be found to contain every word in these texts not explained in the notes. It was originally intended to omit from the notes every word explained in these dictionaries, but in practice it was found desirable to include many words found in them, chiefly because they were words which the student was likely to misunderstand and think it unnecessary to look up.
The general notes at the end of the book are not intended to take the place of a history of English Literature, but merely to supplement such a volume or give emphasis to features of immediate interest. Some of them perhaps will seem to the student unnecessary, but it is hoped that he will remember that there are other students whose equipment and mental power differ widely from his.
For assistance with the notes and the translations, the editor wishes to thank his friends Professor James Weber Linn and Miss Edith Rickert. For help in reading the proofs and for making the Table of Contents and the Index, he is indebted to his father, Dr. Charles Manly, and his sister, Mrs. H. M. Patrick.
In conclusion, the editor wishes to express the hope that he has done nothing that will make more difficult for the student the enjoyment of English Literature and the cultivation of a taste for reading. His aim has been to help, not to hinder.
LAYABON (c. 1205)
BALLADS (Authors unknown)
JOIN SKELTON (1460 ?-1529)
The Canterbury Tales, The Prologue.