Readings in Poetry: A Selection from the Best English Poets, from Spenser to the present times; and Specimens of Several American Poets of Deserved Reputation. To which is prefixed, a brief survey of the history of English poetry (London: John W. Parker, 1833)

Information about the collection: Front engraving of Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey; 419 pp.; short bio-critical headnotes for each poet; entries in the TOC are listed with the author's name flush to the left margin and the poem titles indented on the next line (like a contemporary bibliographic entry); dates of bith and death are not listed in the TOC if the author was living at time of publication; headnotes for the women poets listed can be found at the bottom of this page

Table of Contents: 


Brief Survey of the History of English Poetry
English Versification
On Reading Poetry
On the different Species of Poetry


Spenser, Edmund, (born about 1553, died 1599): The Seasons

Davies, Sir John (born 1570, died 1626): The Immortality of the Soul

Fletcher, Phineas, (died 1650): Intellect, The Prince of the Purple Island, The Happiness of a Rural Life

Fletcher, Giles: The Morning of the Resurrection

Habington, William, (born 1605, died 1654): The Brief Triumph of the Wicked, Time

Herrick, Robert:  To Blossoms, To Daffodils

Milton, John, (born 1608, died 1674): The Garden of Ededn, The Preparations for the Battle of the Angles, Eve's Lament on her Expulsion from Paradise, The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge, Samson's Lament for the Loss of his Sight, Description of a Lady Singing, Description of a Storm

Dryden, John, (born 1631, died 1700): David's Friends, A Dream, Veni Creator

Parnell, Thomas, (born 1679, died 1717): The Hermit, A Fairy Tale

Prior, Matthew, (born 1664, died 1721): Charity, Solomon's Reflections on Human Life

Addison, Joseph, (born 1672, died 1719): Ode on the Creation, Gratitude to God, Confidence in God, Paraphrase on Psalm XXIII, Divine Mercy to the Penitent

Pope, Alexander, (born 1688, died 1744): The Messiah, The Dying Christian to his Soul

Gay, John, (born 1688, died 1732): The Pin and the Needle, The Butterfly and the Snail, The Turkey and the Ant

Tickell, Thomas, (born 1686, died 1740): To the Earl of Warwick, on the Death of Mr. Addison

Blair, Robert, (born 1699, died 1746): The Grave, Death, The Entrance of Death into the World

Thomas, James, (born 1700, died 1748): Showers in Spring, A Tropical Storm, Mists in Autumn, Snow, The Castle of Indolence

Young, Edward, (born 1681, died 1765): God's Address to Job, The Horse, The Behemoth and Leviathan, Address to the Deity

Akenside, Mark, (born 1721, died 1770): The Flight of Imagination, Moral Beauty, Taste

Gray, Thomas, (born 1716, died 1771): The Progress of Poesy, On Education

Goldsmith, Oliver, (born 1731, died 1774): The Traveller

Brooke, Henry, (born 1706, died 1783): Universal Beauty

Johnson, Dr. Samuel, (born 1709, died 1784): The Vanity of Human Wishes

Warton, Thomas, (born 1728, died 1790): Ode, The Crusade

Cowper, William, (born 1731, died 1800): The Winter Evening, Praise of the Country

Burns, Robert, (born 1759, died 1796): The Cotter's Saturday Night, Lament for James, Earl of Glencairn

Beattie, Dr. James, (born 1735, died 1803): A Poet's Childhood, The Sage

Crabbe, George, (born 1754, died 1832): An English Peasant, The Patronized boy

Southey, Robert: The Widowed Mother, The Voyage, Mount Meru, The Dog, The Vale of Covadonga

Coleridge, S.T.: Hymn before Sunrise, in the Vale of Chamouny, Tell's Birth-place, Night, The Dissolution of Friendship

Wordsworth, William: Lament of Mary, Queen of Scots, Obligations of Civil to Religious Liberty, Fidelity, Ruth, To the Daisy, Elegaic Stanzas

Rogers, Samuel: The Pleasures of Memory, Human Life, To the Butterfly, Italy, The Sailor, On a Tear

Campbell, Thomas: The Downfall of Poland, Imagination, Hope, The Last Man, To the Rainbow, Hohenlinden

Montgomery, James: The Wanderer's Return, Greenland, The Pelican Island, The Common Lot, The Castaway Ship, A Mother's Love, The Time-piece

White, Henry Kirke, (born 1785, died 1806): A Hymn for Family Worship, The Christiad (concluding stanzas), The Shipwrecked Solitary's Song, Elegy on the Death of Mr. Gill, The Star of Bethlehem

Scott, Sir Walter, (born 1771, died 1832): Pitt, Nelson, Fox; Coronach, Lament, Lay of the Imprisoned Huntsman, The Voyage through the Western Isles, On the Massacre of Glencoe, The Aged Minstrel, Melrose Abbey, Battle of Beal'an Duine, Death of De Boune

Croly, George, Ll.D: The Entry into Jerusalem, The Dead Sea, Bellator Moriens, The Retreat of the French Army from Moscow, Czerni George, The Alhambra, Jacob's Dream

Milman, Henry Hart: Hymn of the Captive Jews (from Belshazzar), The Summons of the Destroying Angel to the City of Babylon, The Fall of Jerusalem, Hymn

Wilson, John: The Sea by Moonlight (from the Isle of Palms), The Ship, The Shipwreck

Heber, Reginald, (born 1783, died 1826): Palestine, The Druses, The Crusade, Hymn, Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

Hemans, Felicia: The Trumpet, Ivan the Czar, The Siege of Valencia, Casablanca, The Cid's Funeral Procession

Landon, Miss: Crescentius

Barton, Bernard: The Solitary Tomb, A Poet's Noblest Theme

Howitt, William and Mary: The Conqueror, Telle est la Vie

Dale, Thomas: The Widow of Nain, The Female Convict to her Infant, Funeral Dirge (from the Widow of Nain)

Pollok, Robert, (born 1799, died 1827): The Course of Time, True Liberty, The Death of the Young Mother

Watts, Alaric A.: Evening, A Sketch; AEtna, A Sketch, An Epicedium

Moultrie, Rev. J.: My Brother's Grave

Hervey, T.K.: My Sister's Grave, The Convict Ship

Moir, D.M.: Melancholy

Bowles, Rev. W.L.: Abba Thule, Sun-dial in a Church-yard, The Greenwich Pensioners

Keats, John, (born 1796, died 1821): Ode to a Nightingale, Robin Hood

Hogg, James: Elegy, The Fate of Macgregor


Paulding, James K.: The Backwoodsman

Sigourney, Lydia H.: The Coral Insect, Death of an Infant

Sands, Robert C.: Yamoyden

Pierpont, John: The Pilgrim Fathers, Napoleon at Rest

Wilcox, Carlos, (died 1827): Active Christian Benevolence the Source of Sublime and lasting Happiness, Vernal Melody in the Forest

Dana, Richard H.: Immortality, The Buccaneer

Percival, James G.: The Coral Grove, To the Eagle

Neal, John: Day-break

Bryant, William Cullen: The Murdered Traveller, Song of the Stars, The Death of the Flowers

Halleck, Fitz-Greene: Marco Bozzaris, Twilight

Sprague, Charles. The Winged Worshippers, Art

Brainard, John G.C., (born 1796, died 1828): The Deep, The Falls of Niagara, Departure of the Pioneer

Dawes, Rufus: The Spirit of Beauty

Longfellow, W.H.: Burial of the Minnisink, Hymn of the Moravian Nuns, at the Consecration of Pulaski's Banner

Willis, Nathaniel P.: The Soldier's Widow, The Boy

Finn, Henry J.: The Funeral at Sea

Mellen, Grenville: The Air Voyage, a Vision

Whittier, James G.: From The Minstrel Girl

Peabody, William B.O.: The Autumn Evening

Eckhard, F.S.:  The Ruined City


In making these selections from the works of our best English poets, the Editor has endeavoured to combine several important objects. He has laboured to choose such extracts as convey some useful and moral lesson, and, at the same time, best illustrate the style of the respective writers. He has also been guided in his choice by an anxiety to insert nothing that was beyond the level of a youthful capacity; and, as it was manifestly impossible to find such in every poet's works, he has added notes, explaining obsolete words, and allusions to historical or mythological circumstances, not within the range of a school-boy's reading.

The extracts are arranged in chronological order, and may, therefore, serve to illustrate the progress both of our language and literature. To the collection are prefixed literary notices of the different writers: they are necessarily brief, but they will, perhaps, have the effect of stimulating the student to the exercise of his own taste and his own judgment.

The preliminary pieces prefixed to the extracts will be found to contain more information respecting the nature of English poetry than is usually contained in similar volumes. The writer has been as simple and brief as he could; for his object is not to display multifarious learning, but to simplify and condense the elements of knowledge.


Note: All the headnotes but these give biographical information, including date and place of birth and education where known

Felicia Hemans: "Is the poetess of the pure spirit of chivalry, mingled with all the delicate tenderness of a gentle and cultivated mind, and ennobled by the benevolent piety of sincere Christianity. She has too rarely concentrated her energies on a single topic, and has, consequently, produced no great poem worthy of her talents; but many of her scattered odes are among the nobles and most affecting lyrics of our language. They resemble in their effect some of those wondrous snatches of music that, when heard, imprint themselves on the memory at once and for ever."

Miss Landon: "First became distinguished by her poems pulished in the Literary Gazette, with the signature L.E.L. Her poems are more remarkable for force of language than originality of thought, or vigour of imagination."

Lydia H. Sigourney: "Is the Felicia Hemans of America; she does not possess the high chivalrous spirit of the English poetess; but, in its place, she evinces a more lively perception of the beauties of nature."

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