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In the output of those writers who have deliberately written for children, it is surprising how largely the subject of death is found to bulk. Dead fathers and mothers, dead brothers and sisters, dead uncles and aunts, dead puppies and kittens, dead birds, dead flowers, dead dolls—a compiler of Obituary Verse for the delight of children could make a fine fat volume with little difficulty. I have turned off this mournful tap of tears as far as possible, preferring that children should read of the joy of life, rather than revel in sentimental thrills of imagined bereavement.
There exists, moreover, any quantity of verse for children, which is merely verse and nothing more. It lacks the vital spark of heavenly flame, and is useless to a selector of Poetry. And then there is the whole corpus of verse—most of it of the present day—which is written about children, and this has even more carefully to be avoided. When the time comes that we send our parents to school, it will prove very useful to the compilers of their primers.
All these restrictions have necessarily led to two results. First, that this collection is chiefly lyrical—and that, after all, is no bad thing. Lyric verse may not be representative of the whole range of English poetry, but as an introduction to it, as a Wicket-gate, there is no better portal. The second result is, that it is but a small sheaf that these gleanings amount to; but for those children who frankly do not care for poetry it will be more than enough; and for those who love it and delight in it, no "selection" could ever be sufficiently satisfying.
The Editor is indebted to the following authors and publishers for permission to reprint copyrighted poems: Mr. W. Graham Robertson and Mr. Norman Gale; The Macmillan Co. for a poem by Amy Lowell; Messrs. Longmans, Green & Co. for a poem by Walter Ramal and for a poem from Stevenson's Child's Garden of Verse; Messrs. Chatto & Windus for an extract from Swinburne's Songs before Sunrise, and for a poem from Walter Thornbury's Ballads and Songs; Whittaker & Ray-Wiggin Co. and Funk & Wagnalls Co. for poems by Joaquin Miller; Mr. Elliott Stock for an extract from a play by H. N. Maugham; Mr. John Lane for poems by Rands, Graham Robertson, and for two extracts from John Davidson's Fleet Street Eclogues; the Editor of A Sailor's Garland, and Messrs. Methuen, its publishers; to Messrs. Small, Maynard & Co., Inc., for the poem by Richard Hovey; to the Editor of the Pall Mall Magazine for the poem by Theodore Roberts; to Houghton Mifflin Co. for the poems by Longfellow, and to Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons for the poems by Eugene Field.
For the Very Smallest Ones
RHYMES AND JINGLES
Merry are the Bells ...... 3
Safe in Bed ........ 4.
Jenny Wren ........ 4
Curly Locks ........ 5
Pussy-Cat Mew 5
Draw a Pail of Water ...... 6
I Saw a Ship A-Sailing ...... 6
The Nut-Tree 7
My Maid Mary ....... 7
The Wind and the Fisherman ..... 8
Blow, Wind, Blow 8
All Busy 8
Winter has Come . . . . . . .9
Poor Robin ........ 9
I Have a Little Sister ...... 10
In Marble Walls 10
The Moon . . . . Eliza Lee Follen . 11
The Star .... A. & J. Taylor . 12
Kitty Mrs. E. Prentiss 13