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Poetry is inherent in our nature—it adorns the abrupt eloquence of the Savage; and gives intensity to the expression of our own feelinga of sorrow and of joy:—in musing on the past, and in anticipating the future—in contemplating objects of beauty or of grandeur—our regrets and our hopes, the lovely and the stupendous, alike bring us within its influence; and our thoughts and sensations become Poetry, however unable we may be to give it utterance.
No wonder, then, that those gifted with conceptions of more than ordinary beauty or sublimity, and with the power to embody their conceptions in language harmonious and characteristic, should rank high among their fellowmen; and, that the cultivation of a taste for their art,—if art it may be called,—should, in all ages and countries, have kept pace with the advance of civilization.
The study of Poetry, while it tends to humanize and enlarge the heart, imparts vigor and brilliancy to the imagination, and exercises, amuses, and improves the mind:—but, it is to be deplored, that high poetic genius has sometimes been degraded by levity, and depraved by immorality; and that the youthful reader, while, with interest and delight, pursuing his course where nothing should find a place but the graceful and the pure, not unfrequently risks contamination from the blandishments of vice, or disgust from its deformity.
Nor is the decidedly immoral, all that is to be avoided in leading youth along the " primrose paths of Poetry;" there is much, in itself blameless, which may yet, while the passions are nascent and the judgment crude, conduce to create a false and vitiated taste, and to enervate and warp the mind.
The Literature of our Country is, however, rich in Poetry of unmitigated excellence, and affords means of selection and arrangement of almost unlimited extent:—the present volume is an attempt towards forming and directing the taste of the young, by placing in their hands a source of amusement and edification, comprising the gay and the grave—the terse and the ornate—the " Sports of Fancy," and " Themes of high import."