The sonnet as a form of poetical expression has attracted me for many years, first by its beauty and variety, and then by its power of satisfying the most varied demands of subject or mood. More recently the sestina has appeared to afford on a larger scale similar beauty, variety, and range. Both the sonnet and the sestina offer the challenge of precise and difficult requirements and the chance to adventure with delightful forms of poetry, many of them wholly new to the modern reader. After several years spent pleasantly in writing work of this kind, I have chosen from the total number those poems which many hearers seemed to enjoy.
The sonnets in this book illustrate almost every important form, the three called Algernon's Philosophy, The Lily, and The Mystery of Liferepresenting varieties never before used in English. The sestinas illustrate every important form, the two called At Ghizeh and Shellfire being the only English examples of their kind. The sonnet called The Recipe and the sestinas called Bluebirds and Meditation by Moonlight are the first of their kind in any language.
For the benefit of those interested either in literary history or in poetical form, I have included a history of the sonnet. This is the first comprehensive account of the sonnet as it developed in every important western literature and through all the chief vicissitudes of seven