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Household Poetry Book

An Anthology of English-speaking Poets
from Chaucer to Faber



With Biographical and Critical Notes





Coventry Patmore,


A GREATER error there can hardly be than that which regards
poetry as an art conducive to pleasure only, or, at best, but to
intellectual cultivation. Had it no higher function, it would
but little deserve to be, what it has so often proved, the delight
of youth, the inspiring companion of manhood, and the solace
of age ; it could never have attained that high place which
has belonged to it, as one of the most influential powers for
the education of the human race. Poetry may, indeed, be de-
graded ; and very commonly the depth of the degradation is in
proportion to the original height of what has thus been brought
low : painting, sculpture, and architecture, kindred arts, which
work with inferior materials and within a narrower range, too
often have been corrupted by the same malignant influences.
But the effect of such degradation is ever the withdrawal of a
gift sent to strengthen the human heart and to elevate human
action ; while the cause of it is to be found mainly in a low
or a false estimate of that which has thus been shorn of its
duties and functions.

It is the office of poetry, as Bacon tells us, to " submit the
shows of things to the desires of the mind ;" meaning by the
latter expression, the aspirations of that mens melior, or nobler
mind, which is the part of man that retains the image of God
and thirsts for immortality. The world of sense, since the Fall,
has lost the glory of that light which dwelt upon its counten-
ance as it was first created. In poetry a portion of that light
is restored \ for poetry is an ideal art, which invests objects
with a grandeur, a freedom, and a purity not their own. When
we speak of " poetic Justice," we refer to the fact, that in poetry



we require a justice more palpable and swift than that which
the eye discerns in the course of actual events. When we speak
of poetic Truth, we refer to a truth essential and universal,
and free from the accidents to which the detail of common
things is, in appearance at least, subjected. Not less sacred
is that Beauty of which the poets in every age have sung. It
is nothing merely material, although it manifests itself in ma-
terial things. From them it looks forth, as the soul looks forth
from the face. It has been called "the smile of truth," and
justly ; for it is one with goodness, and therefore with truth ;
and while it expresses truth, it expresses her chiefly in hei
frankest, brightest, and most genial moods. To have no senso
of the poetical is, so far as the imagination is concerned, to
lack the happier and larger interpretation of all that lies
around us. A merely prosaic version of human life is far from
being the true one. Were it such, the Father of lights, Him-
self the Living Truth, would not, in creating man, have con-
stituted the imagination one of his most powerful faculties ;
neither would He have taught by parables.

It is especially in youth that the cultivation of the poetic
mind is useful. In its fruitful soil weeds will grow if the
good seed be not sown. To unsensualise the mind is one of
the great functions which belongs to elevated poetry. Poetry,
says Milton, should be "simple, sensuous, and impassioned."
His meaning is, that although its origin is from an elevation
far above that of the senses, it should notwithstanding so
be drawn towards sensuous or visible objects with a cer-
tain generous " passion" or enthusiasm, as to penetrate them
with its own higher life ; while it receives from them in
turn a fervour like that which belongs to real life, through
which poetry stands distinguished from the colder world of
abstract science. But if poetry thus descends to the sen-
suous, it ig by a sort of condescension. It quits its native
regions that it may help to harmonise the din of life, and to
spiritualise the objects of sense. Amid those objects it reveals
an inner world of beautiful and pathetic relations, which to
the sensual eye remain as invisible as to the ken of the animal


creation. If we have not learned in youth to penetrate thus
into the moral meaning of all that lies around us, it is but too
probable that in later life also we shall value them but as they
address the senses. If we escape this danger, another remains
behind. The world is as strong as the senses ; and the con-
ventional relations of things constitute often a prison, and
a narrow one, of their own. Poetry is a deliverer from this
tyranny of the arbitrary, the petty, and the sordid. It flings
a radiance around the great realities of life, which renders
it difficult for us to worship in their place the modes and
fashions of society. It enlarges the heart through the ima-
gination ; it teaches us to sympathise ; it enables us to fol-
low the fortunes of others in untried modes of being. It
lifts us thus beyond the limits of a merely individual expe-
rience, and enfranchises us into the freedom of "no mean
city." In removing selfishness it imparts to us greatness ;
or at least it takes away from us that feebleness which be-
longs often even to virtuous dispositions. The prosaic na-
ture is the narrow, and, for the most part, the timid nature.
It gropes its way, like the blind. It has but imperfectly
learned that language, wide and diffusive as light, through
which the distant is brought near; or acquired that many-
sidedness of mind, so precious when joined with unity of prin-
ciple and fixedness of heart.

There is hardly a virtue belonging to the youthful character
which poetry does not help to train. Generosity, tenderness,
and refinement of nature are especially cherished by it ; while
the hardier virtues courage, perseverance, and self-sacrifice
the constituents of the heroic character have at all times
been the great objects to which it directs our admiration.
There is nothing that exists in the outward life of man which
does not find a mirror in poetry. Every tie that binds man to
man, every kindly sympathy and cleansing affection, has been
the poet's theme. Friendship and love, patriotism and piety,
whatever is just and brave in action, whatever is pure in pas-
sion or purifying in suffering, has supplied his inspiration.
In his song the youthful heart rehearses life. It braces itself


for the conflict that lies before it. Its higher instincts are
drawn out betimes, and an elastic and fearless energy is im-
parted to them. To confine our attention to a single point :
how powerful among the Greeks must not the poetry of Homer
have been to develop patriotism ! Why should not the histo-
rical plays of Shakespeare have the like influence among our
youth ? There are, indeed, among us many who are taught by
modern traditions to regard their ancestors, alike and their
country, as the mere slaves, during whole centuries, of base su-
perstitions and unmitigated corruptions. Separating themselves
from the past, and compelled thus to place their pride in the
present, or exclusively in recent times, such persons are to a
large extent deprived of those reverential and hallowed associa-
tions which constitute patriotism in its higher sense. But they
whom this modern and self-confident philosophy enthralls not,
to whom the England of the Edwards and the Henrys, of
knights and of crusaders, is still a native place, they who,
however they may be regarded by it, must ever have a country,
to which they are united, not by vulgar pride, or sympathy
with its material prosperity alone, but by the deepest and
holiest bonds of love and reverence, by what can they more
strengthen themselves in patriotic devotion and all loyal ser-
vice than by the study of that noble poetry which is their
country's most ancient heritage and enduring monument ?

Poetry may, indeed, be abused. It is so by readers who are
ignorant of its true office, and who assign to it a function yet
loftier than that which it can claim. There are many who
make poetry a religion, or rather a substitute for religion, and
who recognise no other spiritual teaching than that which
they find in imaginative literature or art. To such persons
poetry quickly becomes what it was once called, vinum demo-
num. It intoxicates, instead of sustaining ; and every thing
that it inherits of good is perverted to evil. But those who
hold fast by the great realities of authentic Christianity are
secured from such error. They know that all the Arts are but
the handmaidens of Faith, the " honourable women" that stand
around their Queen and watch her eye ; and that in a subor-


dinate position alone they can fulfil their office. For such
persons Faith occupies a place that is known and defined ; and
the half -legendary world of poetic illustration has an inferior
region, and must restrict itself within its proper limits. To
substitute imagination for faith, and literature for a Divine
Teaching, this is at least not the temptation of those who know
that there exists a complete supernatural world, of which all
that is best in the natural region is but the emblem. Their
temptation is of a less dangerous sort. They are apt, in the
fruition of higher lights and stronger graces, to forget that in
the great scheme of Providence a beneficent influence attaches
also to that which holds but a secondary place. The things
of faith are, indeed, certain and divine ; but yet, just because
they belong to faith, they are withdrawn from sight. It is
the office of Christian art to adumbrate what thus remains
hidden, and to consecrate sense with some broken beams of
that light which properly belongs to the future region of glory.
It is a singular and unfortunate thing, that while from religion
alone poetry draws all her true treasures, those treasures are
sometimes most valued, though wrongly used, by men who
know not whence they come. They cling to beautiful sha-
dows with a credulous observance. Those, on the other hand,
who have the reality, slight the image. In religious services,
and in those treasuries of the beautiful as well as the true,
which the piety of ages has accumulated in the liturgical books
and other devotional writings, and into which almost every
portion of the Sacred Scriptures has been transfused and di-
gested, the higher and therefore more profoundly poetic minds
find often that which renders all merely human literature com-
paratively indifferent to them. A loss, however, cannot but
be sustained by society, if not by the individuals in question,
when those by whom alone literature of the highest order can be
at once rightly appreciated, and studied without danger, relin-
quish such pursuits to others less fortunately circumstanced.

It is to meet the needs of the young especially that this
compilation from the English poets has been made ; but the
principle on which its contents have been selected is one which


fits the volume for persons of every age and class, provided that
in reading poetry they recognise its moral basis and its spiri-
tual aim. It has been too often thought that poetry, to be fitted
for the young, should be of an inferior quality. There cannot
be a greater mistake. It is the excellence of poetry to be
simple ; and unless its therr.e be cf too abstract or recondite a
character, the best poetry is that which will most recommend
itself to the youthful mind and unperverted taste. The present
volume has been compiled with the special intention of includ-
ing in it nothing that is not in the highest sense poetical, as
well as of an elevating morality, or at the least of an unequi-
vocal character in this respect. But the moral, like the reli-
gious lessons of poetry, are for the most part of an indirect cha-
racter. It teaches through the Humanities chiefly. Didactic
poetry is commonly the least impressive, because it is poetry
which has left its proper sphere and assumed duties not its own.
Poetry is indicative, not imperative ; and it indicates its great
moral lessons by avoiding conventionalities, and presenting us
thus with the true and lasting relations of things. Its religious
teaching is also for the most part of an undogmatic kind, and
addresses itself to the heart. In this volume the selections
have been made alike from writers of very various opinions
and schools. The extracts follow each other in such an
order as will assist the reader to understand the progress of
English poetry, and its relations with the history of society.
The more ordinary principle of arrangement, by which selected
poems are classified according to their subjects or forms of con-
struction, is rendered nugatory by the very nature of poetry,
which, in its largeness and freedom, breaks beyond the limits
of mere artificial distinctions.

A. DE V.


d. 1400).

From the Prologue to the " Can-
terbury Tales" 3

The Death of Arcite .... 6

Departure of Oustance .... 7


d. 1542).
Ode : The Lover complaineth the

unkindness of his Love ... 9
To his Mistress 10

EARL OF SURREY (b. 1516,

d. 1547).
A Complaint hy Night of the

Louer not beloued .... 11
Description of Spring .... 12

Upon his White Hairs . ... 12


d. 1608).
Allegorical Personages in Hell . 13


d. 1586).
Sleep 16

MARLOW (b. 1562, d. 1593).
The Passionate Shepherd to his
Love 17

SOUTHWELL (b. 1560, d. 1595).

Times go by turns 19

Scorn not the least 19


d. 1599).

The House of Holiness ... 21

Charissa Charity 27

Redemption 33

The Ministry of Angels ... 35

Sonnet xxvi 36

From " The Epithalamion " . . 36

RALEIGH (b. 1552, d 1618).

The Soul's Errand 38

The Country's Recreations . . 40

His Love admits no Rival . . 40

SHAKESPEARE (b. 1564, d. 1616).

Exhortation to Mercy .... 42

Lorenzo and Jessica .... 43

The Exiled Duke's Philosophy . 44

Fidelity 44

Clarence's Dream 45

Policy 74

Conscience 48

Henry's Soliloquy on Sleep . . 48

Sonnets 49

Dirge of Fidele 61

Song 52

Serenade to Sylvia 52

Fairy Song 52


Christ's Victory in Heaven . . 53

Description of Justice .... 54

Description of Mercy . ... 55

The Resurrection 57

The Ascension 58

The Kingdom of the Blessed . 59



Happiness of the Shepherd's
Life 62

BEAUMONT (d. 1616) AND

FLETCHER (6.1576, d.1625).

From the " Maid's Tragedy" . 63
From the Tragedy of " Philaster" 65

d. 1632).

Virtue 66

Matin Hymn 66

BEN JONSON (b. 1574, d. 1637).

Song of Hesperus 67

Song 68

Song of Night 68

Good Life, long Life .... 69

CAREW (6. 1589, d. 1639).
Ingrateful Beauty threatened 69
Disdain returned 70

WOTTON (b. 1568, d. 1639).
Farewell to the Vanities of the
World ,70


d. 1640).
From the " Virgin Martyr " . . 72

DRUMMOND (b. 1585, d. 1649).

Sonnets : 75

Urania 77

Spiritual Poems 77

CRASHAW (b. 1615, d. 1650).
Temperance, or the Cheap Phy-
sician 80

Hymn to the Name of Jesus . . 81

HABING-ON (b. 1605, d. 1654).
To Castara, inquiring why I

loved her 85

The Description of Castara . . 86

To Castara 87

To the same 88

To Castara, how happy, though

in an obscure Fortune ... 88
To Castara, inviting her to

sleepe 89

To Castara, where true Happi-

nesse abides 89

To Castara praying 89

To Fame 90

"Domine, labia mea aperies" . 90

" Nox nocti indicat scientiam" . 91

LOVELACE (b. 1618, d. 1658).

Song : To Althea, from Prison . 93

HERRICK (b. 1591).

To Meadows 94

To Daffodils .95

To Blossoms 95

DAVENANT (b. 1605, d. 1668).
From " Gondibert" 97

COWLEY (b. 1618).

The Complaint 100

Hymn to Light 101

On the Death of Mr. Crashaw . 102
Of Solitude 103

WITHER (b. 1588, d. 1669).
The Muse's Consolations . . .105

From "A Dirge" 107

The Shepherd's Resolution . . 107

BROWNE (b. 1590, d. 1045)

Rivers 108

Morning 109

The Rose 110

SHIRLEY (b. 1596, d. 1666).
Death's Final Conquest . . .111

MILTON (b. 1608, d. 1674).
Samson bewailing his Blindness

and Captivity 113

Speeches of Manoah the Father
of Samson and the Chorus on
hearing of his last Achieve-
ment and Death 115

Mythology 116

Chastity 120

Song 121

The Creatures of God . . . .123

Athens 124

Sonnet to the Nightingale . . 125
Song on May Morning .... 125


MARVELL (b. 1620, d. 1678).

The Emigrants 125

The Nymph complaining for the
Death of her Fawn .... 126

WALLER (6. 1605, d. 1687).

Go, lovely Rose 129

Old Age and Death 129

V AUGHAN (6. 1621, d. 1695).

Early Rising and Prayer . . .130

DRTDEN (b. 1631, d. 1700).

Alexander's Feast, an Ode in
honour of St. Cecilia's Day . 132

The Position of Man in the
Scheme of Redemption . . .135

The Swallow .136

FARNELL (Z>. 1679, d. 1717). .
Hymn to Contentment .... 137

CONGREVE (b. 1669, d. 1729).
A Cathedral 139

TOPE (b. 1688, d. 1744).
The Messiah 142

PRIOR (b. 1666, d. 1721).
The Lady's Looking-Glass . . 144

GRAY (b. 1716, d. 1771).

Ode on the Pleasure arising
from Vicissitude 146

Elegy written in a Country
Churchyard 148

GOLDSMITH (b. 1728, d. 1774).

The Village Schoolmaster . . 152
The Village Inn 153

LOGAN (1. 1748, d. 1788).

Ode to the Cuckoo 154

Complaint of Nature .... 155

THOMSON (b. 1700, d. 1748).
The Castle of Indolence . . .157

Spring 161

Summer Evening 162

Autumn Evening 164

Winter .166

COLLINS (1. 1721, d. 1756).

Ode to Evening

Ode written in the Year 1746

Dirge in " Cymbeline" . . .

. 169

BURNS (1. 1758, d. 1796).

To a Mountain Daisy, on turning
one down with the Plough . 171

Bruce to his Men at Bannock-
burn ......... 173

To a Brother-Poet ..... 173

Of a' the Airts the Wind can
blaw ........ .174

COWPER (b. 1731, d. 1800).

A Winter Walk ...... 176

Winter Evening ...... 179

The Happy Man ...... 181

Boadicea ........ 183

To Mary ......... 184

Lines on his Mother's Picture . 186

WORDSWORTH (b. 1770, d. 1850).

She was a phantom of delight . 191
Lucy .......... 191

Written at Sunrise on West-
minster Bridge ..... 192

Ode to Duty ..... , . 193

To a Skylark ....... 194

Sonnets :
Saxon Clergy ...... 195

Canute ........ 195

Crusades ........ 195

The Virgin ....... 196

Song at the Feast of Brougham
Castle ......... 196

Resolution and Independence . 200
The Force of Prayer; or, the
Founding of Bolton Priory . 204

S. T. COLERIDGE (Z>. 1772, d. 1834).

Hymn before Sunrise, in the
Vale of Chamonni .... 207

The Nightingale ...... 209

Disjointed Friendship . . . .212

Song .......... 212

Youth and Age ...... 213


SOUTEEY (b. 1774, d. 1843).

The Holly-Tree 215

Night in the Desert .... 216
Autumn 217

H. COLERIDGE (6. 1796, d. 1849).

Sonnet '218

To the Nautilus 219

CAMPBELL (6. 1777, d. 1843).

The Battle of the Baltic . . .220
Ye Mariners of England . . .222
Hohenlinden 223

SIR W. SCOTT (6. 1771, d. 1832).

Branksome Tower 225

Patriotism 227

Melrose Abbey as it is . . .228
Melrose Abbey as it was . . . 228

Staffa 230

Youth 231

Coronach 232

Time 232

MOORE (6. 1770, d. 1852).

How dear to me the hour . . . 233
How oft has the Benshee cried. 234

Let Erin remember 234

The Song of Fionnuala . . .235

After the Battle 235

She is far from the Land . . .236

LORD BYRON (b. 1787, d. 1824).

Norman Abbey 238

The Isles of Greece 240

An Italian Evening .... 242
Midnight Scene in Rome . . .243

SHELLEY (b. 1795, d. 1822).

Cythna 246

From " Alas tor" 247

The Cloud 248

KEATS (b. 1795, d. 182]).

Robin Hood 251

To Autumn 252

Ode to a Nightingale . . . .253

ROGERS (b. 1765, d. 1855).

The Landing of Columbus . .255
Ginevra 256


J he Rivulet . Alfred Tennyson 259

St. Agnes ibid. 260

Sir Galahad ibid. 261

Excelsior .... Longfellow 263
A Psalm of Life . . . . ibid. 264
The Deathbed .... Hood 265
Lago Varese . . Henry Taylor 266
To an Early Primrose H. K. White 267
The Graves of a Household

Hemans 268

The Voices of Home . . ibid. 269
Mariner's Hymn Mrs. Southey 27d
The Burial of Sir John Moore

Wolfe 271
The Chapel by the Shore

Allingham 271

A Spanish Anecdote M. Milnes 272
The Midnight Ocean . Wilson 273
The Evening Cloud . . . ibid. 273
To T. L. H. . . . Leigh Hunt 273
May Morning at Ravenna ibid. 274
Funeral of the Lovers . . ibid. 275
An Angel in the House . ibid. 27?
The Bridal Wake Gerald Griffin 277
The Wake of the Absent . ibid. 277
The Sister of Charity . . ibid. 278
Ernesto . . . Henry Taylor 279
Death of Sir Thomas Picton

Sir Aubrey de Vere 2b.
Sonnet : The Shannon . . ibid. 282
Sonnet : The True Basis of Power

ibid. 283
Sonnet: The Soldiers of Sarsfield

ibid. 283
Sonnet: Time. . John A/ister 283

Ballad ibid. 284

To ibid. 285

Verses . . Chediock Ticheborne 2b6
Praise of a Solitary Life

Thomas Lodge 286
The Holy Trinity

Henry Constnlle 287
To St. Peter and St. 1'aul . ibid. 287
Grace of Congruity

Cardinal Newman 288

Heaven ibid. 288

Candlemas ibid. 2b9

England Very Rev. F. W. Faber 289
Morning in Styria . . . ibid. 2J



[Born 1328 died 1400.]

WE know but little of the great Father of English Poetry, the
" well of English undefiled," as he has been aptly named ; but that
little is interesting. He was born in London, as he informs us ;
and the stock from which he derived his birth was a good, though
not an illustrious one. A portion of his studies were conducted at
Cambridge ; another portion at Oxford ; and, according to Leland,
he studied subsequently at the University of Paris. He was one of
ihe most distinguished ornaments of the splendid court of King
-Edward III., who enriched him with several offices of emolument,
and, in his more advanced life, of dignity also. Woodstock Park,
one of the royal residences, was presented to Chaucer; and beneath
the shades of its ancient oaks he resided frequently during thirty
years of his life. The estimate in which he was held may be inferred
from the circumstance that he was sent by Edward ILL, in the last
year of that monarch's reign, on a political mission to the Republic
of Genoa. After the death of Edward, finding himself involved in
the political troubles connected with *he Lollards, he fled to the
Continent ; and on his return to England was, for a time, thrown
into prison. A few months before his death, Chaucer left his country
retirement for a house which he rented in the garden of the chapel
belonging to the Convent of Westminster. He was buried in West-
minster Abbey; and many British poets have since that time laid
their bones beside his.

It was not till alter he had travelled into France, Holland, and the
Low Countries, that Chaucer became known at the English court.
He was then about thirty years of age, a man of a commanding pre-
sence, and stored with all the learning of the age. It is not sur-
prising that he soon became the idol of the young, as well as the
counsellor of the aged. He was especially the friend of King Ed-



ward's fifth son, the Duke of Lancaster, afterwards the King of Cas-
tille, but best known by the name of John of Gaunt. It was at his
request, and in allusion to events in the life of that brave and chi-
valrous prince, that Chaucer wrote his " Book of the Duchess," " The
Complaint of the Black Knight," and " The Dream of Chaucer."
He wrote "La Priere de Notre Dame" at the request of his friend's
wife the beautiful Lady Blanche, and various other poems at that
of Queen Philippa, the Countess of Essex, the Countess of Salis-
bury, the Lady Mary, Countess of Pembroke, and others among his
friends; and indeed the greater number of his poems seem to have
been thus an outpowln from Ins friendships. Chaucer was a sol-
dier as well as a courtier, and accompanied Edward III. when he
invaded France at the head of 100,000 men. He became allied to
ihe royal family of England, having married Philippa, the sister
of John of G aunt's second wife. This event took place about the
fortieth year of his age, after an attachment of nine years, during

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