MR. WARD has eliminated all chance of criticism of the poems he has selected for his volume by disclaiming any intention to compose an anthology of American verse. This little piece is merely a "book" of American verse and so may include anything.
The editor admits that what has been chosen is not even as complete as he had hoped on account of copyright restrictions and realizes that some of the pieces are not good poetry. But the propriety of the choice is defended on the ground that such work is indicative of the American mind if it were well received at the time of publication.
Assuming that such is the truth, such an index of mass psychology from the time of the publication of "Newes from Virginia" in the early days of James-town to that of Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Renascence" guarantees only an historical study useful to research students. But the great value of a collection and of all these compact little volumes of the Oxford series is in furnishing a handy reference to subject matter which the general reader wants to pursue once more.
Automatically, of course, many of the best of the dismally few great American poems have been included but a little more effort in trying to select only those would make the volume more interesting. We miss Ezra Pound, Archibald MacLeish, and Stephen Vincent Benet among the modern group and individual selections such as some of Emily Dickinson's "Life" beside the few cantos included here, Sidney Lanier's "The Marshes of Glynn", and Millay's "Wild Swans". To make room for these some of the emphasis could have been removed from Bryant and Longfellow and the volume would have been made considerably more useful.