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Of the verses contained in this volume, a considerable number have already appeared in various periodicals. The rest are productions, for the most part, of a later time—it may be, of less leisure. None of them, with a single exception, can claim the privilege of juvenile poems. I neither deprecate nor defy the censure of the critics. No man can know, of himself, whether he is, or is not, a poet. The thoughts, the feelings, the images, whch are the material of poetry, are accessible to all who seek for them; but the power to express, combine, and modify—to make a truth of thought, to earn a sympathy for feeling, to convey an image to the inward eye, with all its influences and associations, can only approve itself by experiment—and the result of the experiment may not be known for years. Such an experiment I have ventured to try, and I wait the result with patience. Should it be favourable, the present volume will shortly be followed by another, in which, if no more be accomplished, a higher strain is certainly attempted.
As there is nothing peculiar either in the principles upon which these poems are written, or the circumstances under which they were produced, further preface would be superfluous. Wherever I have been conscious of adopting the thoughts or words of former, especially of living writers, I have scrupulously acknowledged the obligation : but I am well aware that there may be several instances of such adoption which have escaped my observation. It is not always easy to distinguish between recollection and invention. At the same time, be it remembered, that close resemblance of phrase or illustration, or even verbal identity, may arise from casual coincidence, in compositions that owe nothing to each other.
Leeds, January, 1833.