The method of studying poetry which I have followed in this book was sketched some years ago in my chapter on “Poetry” in Counsel Upon the Reading of Books. My confidence that the genetic method is the natural way of approaching the subject has been shared by many lovers of poetry. I hope, however, that I have not allowed my insistence upon the threefold process of “impression, transforming imagination, and expression” to harden into a set formula. Formulas have a certain dangerous usefulness for critics and teachers, but they are a very small part of one's training in the appreciation of poetry.
I have allotted little or no space to the specific discussion of epic and drama, as these types are adequately treated in many books. Our own generation is peculiarly attracted by various forms of the lyric, and in Part Two I have devoted especial attention to that field.