In Mr. Cabot's prefatory note to the Riverside Edition of the Poems,
published the year after Mr. Emerson's death, he said:—
"This volume contains nearly all the pieces included in the POEMS and
MAY-DAY of former editions. In 1876, Mr. Emerson published a selection
from his Poems, adding six new ones and omitting many. Of those
omitted, several are now restored, in accordance with the expressed
wishes of many readers and lovers of them. Also some pieces never
before published are here given in an Appendix; on various grounds.
Some of them appear to have had Mr. Emerson's approval, but to have
been withheld because they were unfinished. These it seemed best not to
suppress, now that they can never receive their completion. Others,
mostly of an early date, remained unpublished, doubtless because of
their personal and private nature. Some of these seem to have an
autobiographic interest sufficient to justify their publication. Others
again, often mere fragments, have been admitted as characteristic, or
as expressing in poetic form thoughts found in the Essays.
 _Selected Poems_: Little Classic Edition.
"In coming to a decision in these cases it seemed, on the whole,
preferable to take the risk of including too much rather than the
opposite, and to leave the task of further winnowing to the hands of
"As was stated in the preface to the first volume of this edition of
Mr. Emerson's writings, the readings adopted by him in the Selected
Poems have not always been followed here, but in some cases preference
has been given to corrections made by him when he was in fuller
strength than at the time of the last revision.
"A change in the arrangement of the stanzas of 'May-Day,' in the part
representative of the march of Spring, received his sanction as
bringing them more nearly in accordance with the events in Nature."
In the preparation of the Riverside Edition of the _Poems_, Mr. Cabot
very considerately took the present editor into counsel (as
representing Mr. Emerson's family), who at that time in turn took
counsel with several persons of taste and mature judgment with regard
especially to the admission of poems hitherto unpublished and of
fragments that seemed interested and pleasing. Mr. Cabot and he were
entirely in accord with regard to the Riverside Edition. In the present
edition, the substance of the Riverside Edition has been preserved,
with hardly an exception, although some poems and fragments have been
added. None of the poems therein printed have been omitted. "The
House," which appeared in the first volume of _Poems_, and "Nemesis,"
"Una," "Love and Thought" and "Merlin's Songs," from the _May-Day_
volume, have been restored. To the few mottoes of the Essays, which Mr.
Emerson printed as "Elements" in _May-Day_, most of the others have
been added. Following Mr. Emerson's precedent of giving his brother
Edward's "Last Farewell" a place beside the poem in his memory, two
pleasing poems by Ellen Tucker, his first wife, which he published in
the _Dial_, have been placed with his own poems relating to her. The
publication in the last edition of some poems that Mr. Emerson had long
kept by him, but had never quite been ready to print, and of various
fragments on Poetry, Nature and Life, was not done without advice and
careful consideration, and then was felt to be perhaps a rash
experiment. The continued interest which has been shown in the author's
thought and methods and life—for these unfinished pieces contain much
autobiography—has made the present editor feel it justifiable to keep
almost all of these and to add a few. Their order has been slightly
A few poems from the verse-books sufficiently complete to have a title
are printed in the Appendix for the first time: "Insight," "September,"
"October," "Hymn" and "Riches."
After much hesitation the editor has gathered in their order of time,
and printed at the end of the book, some twenty early pieces, a few of
them taken from the Appendix of the last edition and others never
printed before. They are for the most part journals in verse covering
the period of his school-teaching, study for the ministry and exercise
of that office, his sickness, bereavement, travel abroad and return to
the new life. This sad period of probation is illuminated by the
episode of his first love. Not for their poetical merit, except in
flashes, but for the light they throw on the growth of his thought and
character are they included.
In this volume the course of the Muse, as Emerson tells it, is pursued
with regard to his own poems.
I hang my verses in the wind,
Time and tide their faults will find.
EDWARD W. EMERSON.
March 12, 1904.