Subject Index to Poetry: A Guide for Adult Readers

Subject Index to Poetry: A Guide for Adult Readers

Subject Index to Poetry: A Guide for Adult Readers

Subject Index to Poetry: A Guide for Adult Readers


For the Information of Librarians and Other using this subject index it should be well to point out the procedure adopted in its compilation, so that its usefulness may be understood in the light of its natural limitations. These limitations involve the elusive quality of poetic expression, which often lends itself poorly to efforts at precise identification.The index owes its existence to a recurring demand by public library patrons for complete poems on specific topics and for poems, the author, title and first line of which were unknown and could be identified only by their subject matter. Requests of this nature involved long, time-consuming search, with little aid from the usual reference books in the field. The catalog is, of course, helpful in locating anthologies which have been compiled along general topical lines, such as love, friendship or faith. On occasion it is possible to find a poem in Granger where the title is definitely descriptive of the subject. But even here the search may prove unsatisfactory because such tides are infrequent or actually misleading. Since complete poems are being sought, the various books of quotations are, naturally, of no assistance.In evolving the present Subject index to poetry, the editor has attempted to supply material that will be of service in three types of inquiry:

For the location of poetry on specific subjects

For the location of a poem, the topical matter or dominant idea of which is known, but not title, author or first line

For the location of a poem whose author, title or first line is not known, but a line or fragment of a line of which is known

In describing these three objectives, point (1), since it is the basic scheme of the index, includes the further procedures noted in points (2) and (3). These further procedures are described herewith.

The system of indexing under point (2) may be illustrated with a poem by W. A. Dromgoole, entitled "The bridge builder." It concerns an old man who, having crossed with much peril and toil a deep chasm, decides to build a bridge across the abyss so that those who come after him may be saved the labor that has been his in crossing. The poem has been indexed under BRIDGES, OLD AGE, and YOUTH. The last entry was added because of the inference in the verse that the bridge was built for the youths who would follow in the old man's steps. But the poem contains, moreover, the dominant thought of SERVICE and under this heading it may also be found.

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