The American Female Poets:
with Biographical and Critical Notices,
by Caroline May.

 

 

Caroline May

 

Preface.

 

Text
Editionsbericht
Literatur

 

[V] ONE of the most striking characteristics of the present age is the number of female writers, especially in the department of belles-lettres. This is even more true of the United States, than of the old world; and poetry, which is the language of the affections, has been freely employed among us to express the emotions of woman's heart.

Few American women, besides the author of Zophiël, have written poems of any considerable length, but many have published volumes of poetry, and fugitive pieces of various merit have been poured forth through our newspapers and other periodicals, with the utmost profusion. This very profuseness has led many to underrate the genuine value, which upon closer examination will be found appertaining to these snatches of American song. As the rare exotic, costly because of the distance from which it is brought, will often suffer in comparison of beauty and fragrance with the abundant wild flowers of our meadows and woodland slopes, so the reader of our present volume, if ruled by an honest taste, will discover in the effusions of our gifted country-[VI]women as much grace of form, and powerful sweetness of thought and feehng, as in the blossoms of woman's genius culled from other lands.

The personal pleasure enjoyed during some careful searches for the greatest specimens of worth and beauty in this fertile garden of literature, has led the editor to believe that the collection now made may not be unwelcome to the public generally. It must be borne in mind that not many ladies in this country are permitted sufficient leisure from the cares and duties of home to devote themselves, either from choice, or as a means of living, to literary pursuits. Hence, the themes which have suggested the greater part of the following poems have been derived from the incidents and associations of every-day life. And home, with its quiet joys, its deep pure sympathies, and its secret sorrows, with which a stranger must not intermeddle, is a sphere by no means limited for woman, whose inspiration lies more in her heart than her head. Deep emotions make a good foundation for lofty and beautiful thoughts. The deeper the foundation, the more elevated may be the superstructure. Moreover, the essence of poetry is beauty; "the essence of beauty is love." And where should women lavish most unreservedly, and receive most largely, the warmest, purest, and most changeless, affection, but in the sacred retirement of home,

"Where love is an unerring light,
 And joy its own security?"

As it would not be altogether right to send forth the editor's gatherings without some attention to order and [VII] classification, a chronological arrangement, so far as it was possible, has been pursued. Neither have pains been spared to seek out those who in the earlier years of the country have written verses perhaps of slight merit, yet whose names are interesting from other considerations. At the same time the desire of indulging a mere antiquarian taste, has not tempted the editor from the main and more useful purpose of presenting a compilation of the best pieces. It may be also, that a few names have been omitted, which, in the estimation of some, should have received notice. Where, however, the materials were so abundant, and the space so restricted, it was necessary to select.

The accomplishment of this work has been greatly assisted, by the cheerful kindness with which permission to use the name and productions of the authors has been granted. Such permission has been sought in every case where it was practicable; and, with very few exceptions, nothing could exceed the courtesy and liberality shown the editor by those ladies whose favours she asked. It only remains for her to regret that one or two names, which she would gladly have inserted, have been omitted, in compliance with the wishes of those who had the only perfect right to dictate the omission.

With regard to the biographical part, facts have been sought, and generally obtained from the direct sources of reliable information. In a few instances, the editor has been compelled to resort to printed authorities; for one notice (that of Mrs. Lowell,) she is wholly indebted to Mr. Gris[VIII]wold, whose politeness should be appreciated more highly, as he is himself engaged upon a work of a similar character. Reports or on-dits, whether flattering or detractive, have been invariably rejected.

This may account for the shortness of some of the sketches, the subjects of which are themselves most interesting. No women of refinement, however worthy of distinction – and the most worthy are always the most modest – like to have the holy privacy of their personal movements invaded. To say where they were born seems quite enough while they are alive. Thus, several of our correspondents declared their fancies to be their only facts; others that they had done nothing all their lives; and some, – with a modesty most extreme – that they had not lived at all.

If in any case it may be thought that due justice has not been done, the editor is conscious that the error has been unintentional; and hopes for that ready pardon which true charity always accords to a right purpose, however imperfectly executed.

 

 

 

 

Erstdruck und Druckvorlage

The American Female Poets:
with Biographical and Critical Notices,
by Caroline May.
Philadelphia: Lindsay & Blakiston 1848, S. V-VIII.

URL: https://archive.org/details/americanfemalepo01mayc
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/009604097

Die Textwiedergabe erfolgt nach dem ersten Druck (Editionsrichtlinien).

 

 

 

Literatur

Bark, Joachim: Zwischen Hochschätzung und Obskurität. Die Rolle der Anthologien in der Kanonbildung des 19. Jahrhunderts. In: Autoren damals und heute. Literaturgeschichtliche Beispiele veränderter Wirkungshorizonte. Hrsg. von Gerhard P. Knapp. Amsterdam u.a. 1991 (= Amsterdamer Beiträge zur neueren Germanistik, 31/33), S. 441-457.

Bark, Joachim: Art. Anthologie. In: Historisches Wörterbuch der Rhetorik. Bd. 1. Tübingen 1992, Sp. 678-684.

Bennett, Paula B. (Hrsg.): Nineteenth-Century American Women Poets. An Anthology. Malden, MA 1998.

Bennett, Paula B.: Poets in the Public Sphere. The Emancipatory Project of American Women's Poetry, 1800-1900. Princeton 2003.

Brandmeyer, Rudolf: Poetiken der Lyrik: Von der Normpoetik zur Autorenpoetik. In: Handbuch Lyrik. Theorie, Analyse, Geschichte. Hrsg. von Dieter Lamping. 2. Aufl. Stuttgart 2016, S. 2-15.

Cohen, Michael C.: The Social Lives of Poems in Nineteenth-Century America. Philadelphia, PA 2015.

Genette, Gérard: Paratexte. Das Buch vom Beiwerk des Buches. Frankfurt a.M. 2001 (= suhrkamp taschenbuch wissenschaft, 1510).

Golding, Alan C.: A History of American Poetry Anthologies. In: Robert von Hallberg (Hrsg.): Canons. Chicago 1984, S. 279-307.

Lethbridge, Stefanie: Lyrik in Gebrauch. Gedichtanthologien in der englischen Druckkultur 1557 – 2007. Heidelberg 2014 (= Anglistische Forschungen, 442).

Loeffelholz, Mary: From School to Salon. Reading Nineteenth-Century American Women's Poetry. Princeton, NJ u.a. 2004.

Martus, Steffen u.a. (Hrsg.): Lyrik im 19. Jahrhundert. Gattungspoetik als Reflexionsmedium der Kultur. Bern u.a. 2005 (= Publikationen zur Zeitschrift für Germanistik, 11).

Putzi, Jennifer / Socarides, Alexandra (Hrsg): A History of Nineteenth-Century American Women's Poetry. Cambridge 2017.

Sarkhosh, Keyvan / Syrovy, Daniel: Anthologien. In: Handbuch Komparatistik. Theorien, Arbeitsfelder, Wissenspraxis. Hrsg. von Rüdiger Zymner u. Achim Hölter. Stuttgart u. Weimar 2013, S. 337-340.

Socarides, Alexandra: In Plain Sight. Nineteenth-Century American Women's Poetry and the Problem of Literary History. Oxford 2020.
Kap. 1: Anthology Publication and the Woman Poet.

Zellinger, Elissa: Lyrical Strains. Liberalism and Women's Poetry in Nineteenth-Century America. Chapel Hill, NC 2020.

 

 

Edition
Lyriktheorie » R. Brandmeyer