The Second Book of Modern Verse: Foreword

Updated September 23, 2019 | Infoplease Staff


It was my intention, when preparing `The Little Book of Modern Verse', published in 1913, to continue the series by a volume once in five years, but as it seemed inadvisable to issue one during the war, it is now six years since the publication of the first volume.

In the meantime, that the series might cover the period of American poetry from the beginning, `The Little Book of American Poets' was edited, confined chiefly to work of the nineteenth century, but ending with a group of living poets whose work has fallen equally within our own period. This group, including Edwin Markham, Bliss Carman, Edith Thomas, Louise Imogen Guiney, Lizette Woodworth Reese, and many others whose work has enriched both periods, was fully represented also in `The Little Book of Modern Verse'; and it has seemed necessary, therefore keenly as I regret the necessity, which limits of space impose, to omit the work of all poets who have been represented in both of my former collections.

Indeed the period covered by the present volume has been so prolific that it became necessary, if one would represent it with even approximate adequacy, to forego including many poets from `The Little Book of Modern Verse' itself, and but twenty-eight are repeated from that collection.

Even with these necessary eliminations in the interest of space for newer poets, the general scheme of the series — that of small, intimate volumes that shall be typical of the period, rather than exhaustive — has made it impossible to include all whose work I should otherwise have been glad to represent.

While I have not hesitated, where a poet's earlier work seemed finer and more characteristic than his later, to draw upon such earlier work, in the main `The Second Book of Modern Verse' has been selected from poetry published since 1913, the date of my first anthology.

Jessie B. Rittenhouse
New York
September 23, 1919
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