This Anthology of Poetry is for educational use. It covers the period from Shakespeare’s age to the present. In these four centuries, civilization has undergone a sea change in its shift to accelerated knowledge and technological capability Poets are struggling to express it. There was great redeeming human awareness that grew out of the 20th century - a recognition of the inalienable value of the single human life, living freely, and the need for reverence for it. This is clearly illustrated in the difference between After Blenheim by Robert Southey born in 1774 and Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen born in 1893. Concerning war, “Why, ‘twas a very wicked thing!’ said little Wilhelmine; “Nay.. Nay.. My little girl,” quoth he, “It was a famous victory”, compared with “What passing bells for these who die as cattle?”
Poets are historians of the heart, the organ of love. They adjust to the best of their ability, to their surroundings, mundane or otherwise, to their environment, inspiring or depressing, to our advancing civilization at whatever level they perceive it. However there is a recognition of the fragility of life emerging in the 21St century, despite the technological revolution or perhaps because of it. Each human being is struggling to find and hold on to individual harmony with the Life Force, the love of the Universe amid a plethora of conflicting peripheral yet powerful passions, many still violating the hard-earned reverence for life.
So the poems in this Anthology have been selected for their spiritual wisdom and harmony, their dramatic use of the cadences and beauty of the English Language as well as their pure simplicity and their ability to be part of the healing process, soothing the soul, mentoring the heart and encouraging us to find meaning in our lives and to understand our role in the universe - for example, from William Davies, Nature ‘s Friends, “ Say what you like, all things love me! I pick no flowers - that wins the bee.”