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E N G LISH POETRY
JOHN MATTHEWS MANLY, Ph.D.
PROFESSOR AND HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH
GINN & COMPANY
BOSTON - NEW YORK . CHICAGO . LONDON
CopyRIGHT, 1907, By
JOHN MATTHEWS MANLY
ALL RIGHTS Reserved
out of the natum 3press
Ginn & Co MPANY - PRO-
The idea and plan of the present volume originated ten years ago when Professor Bronson, Professor Dodge, and I were engaged in giving an introductory course in English literature to a class of one hundred and forty freshmen and sophomores in Brown University. We found that we secured the best results by having the students read as widely as their time permitted and then discussing freely with them such points as seemed vital to the interest or the significance of the literature read. We proceeded on the theory that literary productions are vital, organic wholes, and that they must be treated as such to produce the effects intended by their authors. Special beauties of detail were noted and enjoyed, but were subordinated to the main meaning and beauty unless, indeed, as sometimes occurred, the significance of the piece we were reading lay in the beauty of its details, in the nature of its ornamentation, rather than in its meaning or form as a whole. Questions of structure and relation of parts were discussed, but with a view primarily to the main theme. Lectures on authors were given, but the greater part of each lecture was devoted to trying to show what the author meant by his work, what he wished to say, what was significant or interesting in his special way of saying it, and why it was or was not of permanent value. Dates and facts and groups of names were given and required to be learned, but not without an attempt to express their significance in such terms of human experience as had actuality for the students themselves.
That the interest and intelligent coöperation of every member of the class were gained by this method, I will not pretend; but I can testify that I have never seen better results from any class or a larger proportion of interested and intelligent listeners in any audience; and I have good reason to know that this method awakened a love of literature and the habit of reading in many members of the course. Experience with this class and with many classes before and since convinces me that we teachers are inclined to underestimate the capacity of pupils for grasping large ideas and their susceptibility to the beautiful thoughts and forms in which we ourselves have found delight.
For such work as was done in the course of which I speak, it is necessary to have a much larger range of reading matter than is usually given in any single volume of selections. We found no volume that met our needs, and were obliged to ask the class to purchase numerous cheap prints of single pieces. But the expense even of these amounted to more than we could reasonably impose upon the students. I then decided to collect into a single volume all the pieces of nondramatic poetry that any teacher would likely care to have at hand from which to make his own selections. The publishers readily agreed to aid me in bringing the price of the volume within the reach