Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1918

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For other versions of this work, see Oxford Book of English Verse.
Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1918  (1940) 
edited by
Arthur Quiller-Couch


Oxford Book

Of English Verse


Oxford University Press
Amen House, E C 4
London Edinburgh Glasgow New York
Toronto Melbourne Capetown Bombay
Calcutta Madras

Humphrey Milford
Publisher to the


Oxford Book

Of English Verse


Chosen and Edited by
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch

New Edition

Oxford University Press

New YorkToronto



REPRINTED 1901, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908
1910, 1911, 1913, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1921
1925, 1927, 1930












FOR this Anthology I have tried to range over the whole field of English Verse from the beginning, or from the Thirteenth Century to this closing year of the Nineteenth, and to choose the best. Nor have I sought in these Islands only, but wheresoever the Muse has followed the tongue which among living tongues she most delights to honour. To bring home and render so great a spoil compendiously has been my capital difficulty. It is for the reader to judge if I have so managed it as to serve those who already love poetry and to implant that love in some young minds not yet initiated.

My scheme is simple. I have arranged the poets as nearly as possible in order of birth, with such groupings of anonymous pieces as seemed convenient. For convenience, too, as well as to avoid a dispute-royal, I have gathered the most of the Ballads into the middle of the Seventeenth Century; where they fill a languid interval between two winds of inspiration—the Italian dying down with Milton and the French following at the heels of the restored Royalists. For convenience, again, I have set myself certain rules of spelling. In the very earliest poems inflection and spelling are structural, and to modernize is to destroy. But as old inflections fade into modern the old spelling becomes less and less vital, and has been brought (not, I hope, too abruptly) into line with that sanctioned by use and familiar. To do this seemed wiser than to discourage many readers for the sake of diverting others by a scent of antiquity which—to be essential—should breathe of something rarer than an odd arrangement of type. But there are scholars whom I cannot expect to agree with me; and to conciliate them I have excepted Spenser and Milton from the rule.

Glosses of archaic and otherwise difficult words are given at the foot of the page: but the text has not been disfigured with reference-marks. And rather than make the book unwieldy I have eschewed notes—reluctantly when some obscure passage or allusion seemed to ask for a timely word; with more equanimity when the temptation was to criticize or 'appreciate'. For the function of the anthologist includes criticizing in silence.

Care has been taken with the texts. But I have sometimes thought it consistent with the aim of the book to prefer the more beautiful to the better attested reading. I have often excised weak or superfluous stanzas when sure that excision would improve; and have not hesitated to extract a few stanzas from a long poem when persuaded that they could stand alone as a lyric. The apology for such experiments can only lie in their success: but the risk is one which, in my judgement, the anthologist ought to take. A few small corrections have been made, but only when they were quite obvious.

The numbers chosen are either lyrical or epigrammatic. Indeed I am mistaken if a single epigram included fails to preserve at least some faint thrill of the emotion through which it had to pass before the Muse's lips let it fall, with however exquisite deliberation. But the lyrical spirit is volatile and notoriously hard to bind with definitions; and seems to grow wilder with the years. With the anthologist—as with the fisherman who knows the fish at the end of his sea-line—the gift, if he have it, comes by sense, improved by practice. The definition, if he be clever enough to frame one, comes by after-thought. I don't know that it helps, and am sure that it may easily mislead.

Having set my heart on choosing the best, I resolved not to be dissuaded by common objections against anthologies—that they repeat one another until the proverb δὶς ἢ τρὶς τὰ καλά loses all application—or perturbed if my judgement should often agree with that of good critics. The best is the best, though a hundred judges have declared it so; nor had it been any feat to search out and insert the second-rate merely because it happened to be recondite. To be sure, a man must come to such a task as mine haunted by his youth and the favourites he loved in days when he had much enthusiasm but little reading.

A deeper import
Lurks in the legend told my infant years
Than lies upon that truth we live to learn.

Few of my contemporaries can erase—or would wish to erase—the dye their minds took from the late Mr. Palgrave’s Golden Treasury: and he who has returned to it again and again with an affection born of companionship on many journeys must remember not only what the Golden Treasury includes, but the moment when this or that poem appealed to him, and even how it lies on the page. To Mr. Bullen’s Lyrics from the Elizabethan Song Books and his other treasuries I own a more advised debt. Nor am I free of obligation to anthologies even more recent—to Archbishop Trench’s Household Book of Poetry, Mr. Locker-Lampson’s Lyra Elegantiarum, Mr. Miles’ Poets and Poetry of the Century, Mr. Beeching’s Paradise of English Poetry, Mr. Henley’s English Lyrics, Mrs. Sharp’s Lyra Celtica, Mr. Yeats’ Book of Irish Verse, and Mr. Churton Collins’ Treasury of Minor British Poetry: though my rule has been to consult these after making my own choice. Yet I can claim that the help derived from them—though gratefully owned—bears but a trifling proportion to the labour, special and desultory, which has gone to the making of my book.

For the anthologist’s is not quite the dilettante business for which it is too often and ignorantly derided. I say this, and immediately repent; since my wish is that the reader should in his own pleasure quite forget the editor’s labour, which too has been pleasant: that, standing aside, I may believe this book has made the Muses’ access easier when, in the right hour, they come to him to uplift or to console—

ἄκλητος μὲν ἔγωγε μένοιμί κεν· ἐς δὲ καλεύντων
Θαρσήσας Μοίσαισι σὺν ἁμετέραισιν ἱκοίμαν.

October, 1900


BY favour of the Public, The Oxford Book of English Verse has held its own in request for close upon forty years. The editor would stand convicted of dullness indeed if in these years he had not learnt, revising his judgement, to regret some inclusions and omissions; of indolence, moreover, the industry of scholars having rescued to light meanwhile many gems long hidden away in libraries, miscellanies, even scrap-books. In this new edition, therefore, I have risked repairing the old structure with a stone here, a tile there, and hope to have left it as weather-proof as when it as first built.

I have added a hundred-odd pages, and close upon Armistice Day 1918, admitting a few later numbers by poets who, whether consciously or not, had indicated before that date the trend of their genius. I shrank, of course, from making the book unwieldy; but in fact also I felt my judgement insecure amid post-War poetry. Although I cannot dispute against Time, this is not to admit a charge of crabbed age: since it has been my good fortune to spend the most part of these later years with the young and to share—even in some measure to encourage—their zest for experiment. The Muses’ house has many mansions: their hospitality has outlived many policies of State, more than a few religions, countless heresies—tamen usque recurret Apollo—and it were profane to misdoubt the Nine as having forsaken these so long favoured islands. Of experiment I still hold myself fairly competent to judge. But, writing in 1939, I am at a loss what to do with a fashion of morose disparagement; of sneering at things long by catholic consent accounted beautiful; of scorning at ‘Man’s unconquerable mind’ and hanging up (without benefit of laundry) our common humanity as a rag on a clothes-line. Be it allowed that these present times are dark. Yet what are our poets of use—what are they for—if they cannot hearten the crew with auspices of daylight? In a time no less perilous Wordsworth could write

  In our halls is hung
Armoury of the invincible knights of old.

—‘armoury’, not museum-pieces, still less tear-bottles. ‘Agincourt, Agincourt, know ye not Agincourt?’.

The reader, turning the pages of this book, will find this note of valiancy—of the old Roman ‘virtue’ mated with cheerfulness—dominant throughout, if in many curious moods. He may trace it back, if he care, far behind Chaucer to the rudest beginnings of English Song. It is indigenous, proper to our native spirit, and it will endure.

A. Q.-C.

Whitsun, 1939


GRATEFUL acknowledgement is here made for permission given during their lifetime to include poems by the following authors now deceased H. C. Beeching (for two poems of his own and for his redaction of Quia Amore Langueo); A. C. Benson; Robert Bridges; John Davidson, Aubrey de Vere; Austin Dobson; Sir Edmund Gosse, Bret Harte, W. E. Henley, Katharine Tynan Hinkson; W. D. Howells, Andrew Lang; George Meredith; Alice Meynell, Sir Henry Newbolt; Sir Gilbert Parker; T. W. Rolleston; G. W. Russell ('Æ'), Mrs. Clement Shorter (Dora Sigerson), A. C. Swinburne; Francis Thompson; Sir William Watson, W. B. Yeats.

My thanks are also due to publishers and others for kind permission to include copyright poems by the following:

Lascelles Abcrcrombic. Messrs. John Lane the Bodlcy Head, Ltd.

William Allingham: the late Mrs. Allmgham.

William Barnes: the executors.

Hilaire Belloc: Mr. Belloc and Messrs. Gerald Duckworth & Co., Ltd.

Laurence Binyon: Mr. Binyon.

Edmund Blunden: Mr. Blunden.

Wilfrid Sea wen Blunt: Sir Sydney Cockerell.

Gordon Bottomley: Mr. Bottomley.

F. W. Bourdillon: the executors.

Robert Bridges: The Clarendon Press.

Rupert Brooke (from Poems): the author's representatives; Messrs. Sidgwick & Jackson; Messrs. Dodd, Mead & Co., New York ; Messrs. McClelland & Stewart, Toronto. T. E. Brown (from Collected Poems of T. E. Brown) : the author's representatives; Messrs. Macmillan & Co., Ltd.; The Macmillan Co., New York.

Bliss Carman: the executors.

Mrs. Browning: the proprietors of Mr. and Mrs. Browning's copyrights and Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co., Ltd.

J. A. Chapman: Mr. Chapman.

G. K. Chesterton. Miss Collins, Messrs. Methuen & Co., Ltd., and Messrs. Dodd, Mead & Co., New York (for 'The Rolling English Road') ; Messrs. J. M. Dent & Co., Ltd. (for ' The Donkey').

Mary Coleridge (from Poems) : Sir Francis Newbolt and the executors of the late Sir Henry Newbolt; Messrs. El kin Mathews.

Padiaic Colum: Mr. Colum; The Macmillan Co., New York.

W. H. Davies. Mr. Davics; Messrs. Jonathan Cape, Ltd,; Oxford University Press, New York.

Walter de la Marc: Mr. De La Mare.

Lord Alfred Douglas (from Sonnets) : Lord Alfred Douglas and Messrs. Rich & Cowan, Ltd.

Ernest Dowson: Messrs. John Lane the Bodley Head, Ltd.

Mary Duclaux (Darmestetcr) . the author.

George du Maurier: Lady du Mauricr.

Sir Samuel Ferguson: the late Lady Ferguson.

Edward FitzGerald: the late William Aldis Wright and Messrs. Macmillan & Co., Ltd.

James Elroy Flecker: Messrs. Martin Seeker & Warburg, Ltd.

Norman Gale: Mr. Gale.

Oliver St. John Gogarty: Mr. Gogarty.

Julian Grenfell: Lord and Lady Desborough.

Thomas Hardy: the executrix; Messrs. Macmillan & Co., Ltd. ; The Macmillan Co., New York.

Ralph Hodgson: Mr. Hodgson; Messrs. Macmillan & Co., Ltd. ; The Macmillan Co., New York.

G. M. Hopkins the Oxford University Press.

Lord Houghton. the Marquis of Crewe.

A. E. Housman (from Last Poems and A Shropshire Lad) : the literary executors , Messrs. Henry Holt, Inc., New York.

Dr. Douglas Hyde: Dr. Hyde.

Selwyn Image' the executors.

Jean Ingclow: Messrs. Longmans, Green & Co., Ltd.

Lionel Johnson. Messrs. El kin Mathews & Marrot, Ltd.

James Joyce (from Collected Poem<)\ Mr. Joyce; Messrs. Fabcr & Faber, Ltd.; The Viking Press, New York.

Rudyard Kipling (from Rewards and Fa^ries): Mrs. Kipling; Messrs. Macmillan & Co., Ltd.; Messrs. Doubleday Doran & Co.; The Macmillan Co. of Canada, Ltd.

Hon. Emily Lawless: Hon. Kathleen Lawless.

Richard Le GaJJienne. Mr. Le Gallicnnc.

John Masefield (from The Collected Poems of John Masefield): Mr. Masefield; Messrs. Wm. Heinemann, Ltd.; The Macmillan Co., New York.

George Meredith: Messrs. Constable & Co., Ltd., and Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.

Thomas Sturge Moore' Mr. Moore.

William Morris. Sir Sydney Cockerell.

Sir Henry Newbolt (from Poems New and Old) : Sir Francis Newbolt and the executors of the late Sir Henry Newbolt.

Alfred Noyes: Mr. Noyes.

Arthur O'Shaughness^ . Messrs. Chatto & Windus, Ltd.

Wilfrid Owen: Mrs. Owen ; Messrs. Chatto & Windus, Ltd.; The Viking Press, New York.

H. E. Palmer: Mr. Palmer.

Eden Phillpotts: Mr. Phillpotts.

Stephen Phillips. Messrs. John Lane the Bodley Head, Ltd.

William Philpot: the executor.

W. B. Rands Messrs. John Lane the Bodley Head, Ltd.

Ernest Rhys Mr. Rhys.

Christina Rossctti. Messrs. Macmillan & Co., Ltd.

John Ruskin: Mr. George Allen.

George William Russell ('/') Messrs. Macmillan & Co., Ltd., The Macmillan Co., New York.

Siegfried Sassoon. Mr. Sassoon ; Messrs. Wm. Heincmann, Ltd.

W. B. Scott: the executors.

Walter C. Smith: Messrs. Jackson, Son, & Co., Ltd., Glasgow.

Charles Sorlcj< . Mrs. Sorlev, Cambridge University Press.

James Stephens. Mr. Stephens, Messrs. Macmillan & Co., Ltd.; The Macmillan Co., New York.

R. L. Stevenson: the executors; Messrs. Chatto & Windus, Ltd.; Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.

A. C. Swinburne Messrs. Wm. Hcmemann, Ltd.

Frederick Tennyson, the executors.

Lord Tennyson (from Wotks of Alfred Tennyson) the author's representative; Messrs. Macmillan Co., Ltd , The Macmillan Co., New York.

Edward Thomas (from Coll et ted Poems oj EJztanl Thomas) . Mrs. Edward Thomas and Messrs. Fabcr & Faber, Ltd.

Francis Thompson. Mr. Wilfrid Mcyncll.

James Thomson, the late Bertram Dobell.

F. Herbert Trench. Messrs. Jonathan Cape, Ltd.

Thomas Traherne: the late Bertram Dobell.

C. T. Turner Sir Franklyn Lushington.

Charles Williams: Mr. Williams and the Oxford Univ. Press.

Mrs. Woods: Mrs. Woods.

W. B. Yeats (from Collected Poems) ' Messrs. Macmillan & Co., Ltd.


001–10. Anonymous. XIII–XIV Century 001–13
011. Robert Mannyng of Brunne. b. 1288, d. 1338 013
012. William Langland. b ?1332, d. ?1400 013–14
019. King James I of Scotland, b. 1394, d. 1437 019
047–49. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey b. 1516, d. 1547 070–72
056. Alexander Montgomerie, b ?1540, d. ?1610 080–82
106. Fulke Gieville, Lord Brooke, b. 1554, d. 1628 145
107–110. Thomas Lodge. b. ?1556, d. 1625 146–149
111–113. George Peele. b. ?1558, d. 1597 150–151 CONTENTS


424^427. John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, b 428-429. John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham- 176. Thomas Osbert Mordaunt. b. 1730, d



483. Robert Cunmnghame-Graham of Gart- 562568. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, b. 1772, d. 595. Edward Thurlow, Lord Thurlow. b.



605-608. George Gordon Byron, Lord Byron, b.

628. Felicia Dorothea Hemans. b. 1793, d.

646. Jeremiah Joseph Callanan. b. 1795, d.

666. Thomas Babington Macaulay, Lord

670. Winthrop Mackworth Praed. b. 1802, 685-692. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, b. 1806, 694-697. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. b. zziv



699. Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton, b.

1808, d. 1876 823-824.

700. Charles Tennyson Turner, b. 1808, d.

1879 824. 706. Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord Hough- 707-719. Alfred Tennyson, Loid Tennyson, b. 722. Sir Francis Hastings Doyle, b. 1810, d. 723724. William Makepeace Thackeray. b. 748. Charles Kingsley. b. 1819, d 1875 8 9^ 774-775. Sydney Dobell. b. 1824, d 1874 939~"94*

778. Walter Chalmers Smith, b. 1824, d.



789-796. Christina Georgma Rossetti. b. 1830,

798-800. Thomas Edward Brown, b. 1830, d.

801. Richaid Watson Dixon. b. 1833, d.

805. George Louis Palmella Busson Du

810-811. John Leicester Warren, Lord de Tab- 812815. Algernon Charles Swinburne, b. 1837,

817. William Dean Howells. b. 1837, d.

823-826. Wilfrid Scawen Blunt b. 1840, d 831 Henry Claience Kendall b. 1841, d.

832833. Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy.

834-837. Geraid Manley Hopkins, b. 1844, d




863. Francis William Bourdillon. b. 1852,

866. Thomas William Rolleston. b. 1857, 875-876. Henry Chailes Beechmg. b. 1859, d. 877-879. Alfred Edward Housman. b. 1860, d. 882-886. Mary Elizabeth Coleridge, b. 1861,

893. Katharine Tynan Hinkson. b. 1861,

894. Arthur Christopher Benson, b. 1862, 910-912. George William Russell ('&'). b.


�� �

915–918. Laurence Binyon.  b. 1869 1087–1091
919–921. Lord Alfred Douglas.  b. 1870 1091–1092
922–923. Thomas Sturge Moore.  b. 1870 1093–1098
924–925. Hilaire Belloc.  b. 1870 1099–1098
926–928. William Henry Dawes.  b. 1871 1099–1100
929. John Swinnerton Phillimore.  b. 1873, d. 1926 1102–1104
930–931. Gilbert Keith Chesterton.  b. 1872, d. 1936 1104–1102
932. Ralph Hodgson.  b. 1872 1106
933–935. Walter de la Mare.  b. 1873 1106–1109
936. Gordon Bottomley.  b. 1874 1109–1110
937. John Alexander Chapman.  b. 1875 1110–1111
938–940. John Masefield.  b. 1876 1111–1115
941–942. Oliver St. John Gogarty.  b. 1878 1116–1117
943. Wilfrid Thorley.  b 1878 1118
944–945. Edward Thomas.  b. 1878, d. 1917 1119–1120
946. Alfred Noyes.  b. 1880 1120–1122
947–948. Herbert Edward Palmer.  b. 1880 1122–1124
949. Lascelles Abercrombie.  b. 1881, d. 1938 1124–1125
950. Padraic Colum.  b. 1881 1126
951. James Joyce.  b. 1882 1127
952–953. James Stephens.  b. 1882 1127–1129
954–955. James Elroy Flecker.  b. 1884, d. 1919 1129–1130
956–957. Charles Williams.  b. 1886 1130–1133
958–959. Siegfried Sassoon  b. 1886 1133–1134
960–961. Rupert Brooke.  b. 1887, d. 1915 1134–1135
962. Julian Grenfell.  b. 1888, d. 1915 1135–1137
963. Wilfrid Owen.  b. 1893, d. 1918 1137
964. Charles Hamilton Sorley.  b. 1895, d. 1915 1137–1138
965. Edmund Blunden.  b. 1896 1138–1140
966. Richard Doddridge Blackmore.  b. 1825, d. 1909 1141

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