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THE RIVERSIDE BOOK OF VERSE 1250-1925. Compiled by Robert M. Gay. Boughton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1927. $3.00.

By R. H. S. .

ANTHOLOGIES, notably elastic things, are usually indicative of the anthologist's turn of mind; every reader hopes that somewhere in a collection of verses, stories, plays--whatever be the subjects--he will discover the compiler's preference--some certain favorite, some especial fancy. But such an ambition is in vain as far as Professor Gay's "Riverside Book of Verse" is concerned. The entire range of the selections is even, balanced, and proportionate. From the opening "Cuckoo Song" (which also heads another well know anthology, "The Oxford Book of English Verse") to the modernism of Miss Lowell's "Lilacs" there is an uninterrupted flow of the best of English poetry, carefully chosen and when such operations were necessary, thoughtfully edited.

Unlike the Oxford book, however, Mr. Gay has not restricted himself to the poets of England alone. One finds Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Eleanor Wylie, Vachel Lindsay, and others, listed with an admirable breadth of taste. On the other hand, the old favorites do not suffer from this inclusive grouping. In some six hundred pages the anthologist has managed to gather together the finest of the old and still he has found space for examples of the new. When it is realized that he has also given many excerpts from longer works--such as from Shakespeare's plays and from the Bible--the feat is seen to be no small one.

Mr. Gay has divided his book into sections, each representing a particular period of poetry, such as Elizabethan, Romantic, and so forth. After, the poetry of the Victorian era he places several selections to which he assigns the term "Eighteen-Eighties and Nineties", and which serve as a sort of prelude to the work of a more modern tone. Since these divisions are presumably purely chronological there should be no objection, but nevertheless there will be readers who will question the propriety of omitting Hardy and Housman from poets of the Twentieth Century, since the work of the former at least is quite as modern as that of others--William Vaughan Moody for instance--who are placed in the latter list.

Such technicalities, however, cannot mar the excellence of the book as a whole. Its compact size, its wide variety--and the fine Essay on Poetry which Professor Gay has prefixed to his choices, should make it one of the most popular books of its type. As a collection of English and American verse from the Middle English period to the present time it is the best small book yet published.

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