This book, which presents the whole splendid history of English literature from Anglo-Saxon times to the close of the Victorian Era, has three specific aims. The first is to create or to encourage in every student the desire to read the best books, and to know literature itself rather than what has been written about literature. The second is to interpret literature both personally and historically, that is, to show how a great book generally reflects not only the author's life and thought but also the spirit of the age and the ideals of the nation's history. The third aim is to show, by a study of each successive period, how our literature has steadily developed from its first simple songs and stories to its present complexity in prose and poetry.
the delicate curves of the shell reflect sounds and harmonies too faint to be otherwise noticed. A hundred men may pass a hayfield and see only the sweaty toil and the windrows of dried grass; but here is one who pauses by a Roumanian meadow, where girls are making hay and singing as they work. He looks deeper, sees truth and beauty where we see only dead grass, and he reflects what he sees in a little poem in which the hay tells its own story:
Yesterday's flowers am I, And I have drunk my last sweet draught of dew. Young maidens came and sang me to my death; The moon looks down and sees me in my shroud, The shroud of my last dew. Yesterday's flowers that are yet in me Must needs make way for all to-morrow's flowers. The maidens, too, that sang me to my death Must even so make way for all the maids That are to come. And as my soul, so too their soul will be Laden with fragrance of the days gone by. The maidens that to-morrow come this way Will
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