In the preparation of these volumes there has been no attempt at completeness. The literature from which the materials are drawn is much too vast to be compressed into two little volumes like these. The aim has been simply to make the collection fairly representative in character, and to include in it those pieces relating to our several wars which best reflect the spirit of the times that produced them. The work of selection in such a case must always be difficult and the result more or less unsatisfactory. There are many reasons for this, some of which no one who has not undertaken a task of this kind can fully appreciate. There is no fixed standard of judgment by which to make a certainly just comparative estimate of the quality of several poems, some of which must be taken and the others left. Merit, in the case of war poems, is the composite result of so many different things that no criticism can hope to make an entirely satisfactory qualitative analysis of such literature. The poetic quality of some pieces entitles them to editorial acceptance, quite irrespective of other considerations, while there are other pieces having very little poetic quality, or none at all, whose claim to consideration on other grounds is incontestable. Mr. Stedman's "Wanted—A Man," Mr. William Winter's exquisitely tender poem "After All," Miss Osgood's "Driving Home the Cows," and Mr. George Parsons Lathrop's "Keenan's Charge," may serve as examples of pieces which no editor with the least capacity of poetic appreciation would hesitate to include in such a collection on the ground of merit even if their character were somewhat at variance, as in this case it is not, with the scheme of the collection. On the other hand there are such things as "Three Hundred Thousand More," several of the rude songs of the war of 1812, and many other pieces, which make equally imperative claims to favor on grounds that have no relation to the question of poetic merit. The song concerning the "Constitution and Guerrière," for example, is very nearly as destitute of poetic quality as metrical writing can be, and yet no editor of a collection like this would think of omitting a piece that had for so many years stirred the hearts of patriots and moved them to rejoice in the achievements of their country's heroes. The complex nature of the considerations that must determine the choice of poems for inclusion is but one of several difficulties encountered in the execution of such a task as this. In any event, many things must be omitted which merit insertion, and the reader who misses a favorite piece is prompt to point to others which seem to him less worthy, and to ask why these were not made to give place to the one omitted. There are three answers to be made to the challenge of such a reader: first, that his judgment in the matter may be wrong; second, that the editor, being human, may have erred in his choice; and third, that in a collection intended to be broadly representative rather than complete, preference must sometimes be given to the less worthy piece which happens to reflect some phase of sentiment not otherwise presented, even at the cost of sacrificing the worthier one which illustrates aspects otherwise sufficiently shown.