« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
IN presenting this volume of poems to the public it is proper to state briefly the circumstances under which it has been gathered. A year or two ago the publishers, who had noted with interest the poems which Mr. Sill had been contributing to the Atlantic and other periodicals, both under his own name and under pseudonyms, invited him to make a collection of his recent poems for publication in a volume. He was in no haste to do this. He was doubtless conscious that his power was a growing one, as indeed the quick succession of poems indicated. At any rate he had that fine sense of poetic art which forbade him to be complacent over his own productions,
and he preferred to send fresh poems out, month by month, waiting for the day when a volume should be inevitable.
In the midst of his mental activity, when he was acquiring great flexibility in the use of a variety of literary forms, he died. After his death, so freely, even carelessly, had he let his verses go, that month by month new poems under his familiar signatures appeared in the magazines, as if he went out of the sight of men, singing on his way. It seemed then only just to his memory, and due to literature, which he loved with a generous mind, that the present volume should be gathered. In making choice of its contents it has been thought best to take but five pieces from The Hermitage and other Poems, the only volume published by him, and containing his poetic work previous to 1868, the date of its appearance from the house of Leypoldt & Holt. When Mr. Sill bade good-by to his friends in Cali
fornia in 1883, he left with them a small, privately printed volume, bearing the title The Venus of Milo and other Poems. A large portion of its contents is included in the present work, which finally contains a selection from the uncollected poems of the last four or five years.
It will be seen by this statement that no attempt has been made to publish the body of Mr. Sill's poetic work, nor even to indicate the quality of his poetry at different periods of his life. Regard has been had to what may properly be considered as his own judgment in such a case, and while a few illustrations are given of the spirit which pervaded his earlier verse and never essentially changed, the main contents are drawn from the poetry which represents his maturity and the period when his technical skill was most highly developed. His own deep respect for his art forbids that his friends should be governed by other considera
tions than a love and admiration for fine
Since this volume therefore is addressed not primarily to the friends of Mr. Sill, who would eagerly preserve all that he wrote, but to the larger public that can know his personality only as it is hinted through his verse, a single word may be said regarding his career. He was born in Windsor, Connecticut, in 1841, and graduated at Yale College with the class. of 1861. He went to California not long after graduation, and at first engaged in business, but in 1867 returned east with the expectation of entering the ministry, and studied for a few months at the Divinity School of Harvard University. He gave up the purpose, however, married, and occupied himself with literary work, translating Rau's Mozart, holding an editorial position on the New York Evening Mail, and bringing out his vol ume of poems.
His peculiar power in stimulating the minds of others drew him into the work of teaching, and he became principal of an academy in Ohio. His California life, however, had given him a strong attachment to the Pacific coast and a sense that his health would be better there, and accordingly, on receiving an invitation to a position in the Oakland High School, he removed to California in 1871, remaining there till 1883. In 1874 he accepted the chair of English Literature in the University of California, and identified himself closely with the literary life which found its expression in magazines and social organization.
Upon his return to the east with the intention of devoting himself more exclusively to literary work, he began that abundant production which has been hinted at, and which, anonymous for the most part, was rapidly giving him facility of execution and drawing attention to