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A BOOK OF ENGLISH LOVE POEMS

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HYD, ABSOLON, THY GILTË TRESSES CLERE ;
ESTER, LAY THOU THY MEEKNESS ALL A-DOUN
HYD, JONATHAS, ALL THY FRIENDLY MANÉRÉ ;
PENALOPEE AND MARCIA CATOUN,
MAKE OF YOUR WIFEHOOD NO COMPARISOUN;
HIDE YE YOUR BEAUTIES, ISOUDE AND ELEYNE;
MY LADY COMETH, THAT ALL THIS MAY DISTEYNE!

- CHAUCER

METHUEN & CO.

36 ESSEX STREET W.C.

LONDON

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INTRODUCTION

THE volume here presented to the reader is a se

lection of complete poems from all or almost all that is worth preserving in English Lyric Poetry which has Love as its subject. And since Poetry is the one Art in which we have made a really indestructible success, in which we have really expressed ourselves, we may find here some hundreds of verses of an imperishable beauty. In any wide view of English Poetry it might seem as though all the vitality of the race, that desire for expression, the idealism and dreams of a great people who must create, always with joy, had passed into Verse, since in Prose we have not attained to the lucidity and perfection of the French ; nor in Sculpture to the immortal and precise beauty of the Greeks ; nor in Painting to the loveliness and power of the Italians ; nor in Music to the profound rhythm of the Germans. It is really only in Poetry that we are as it were a world power, since we have produced indisputably the most beautiful Verse of the modern world, perhaps of all time, "in Lyric as in Dramatic Poetry. Our extraordinary, indifference to Art or Beauty of any sort has obscured much of the great dramatic litera

1 There are, I think, but three exceptions: only one, that of the songs from “The Song of Songs,” is of any importance.

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