This Anthology has been prepared for listeners in the age-range of 11+ to 16. As with its predecessor RHYME AND RHYTHM (for 7 to 11s) the age-range suggested for any part of the Anthology must be tentative, as levels of appreciation vary considerably. The Anthology follows, very closely, the four books published by Messrs. Macmillan under the title POETRY AND SONG. Certain poems which appear in the books have not been recorded; there are two reasons for this. We were not always able to obtain permission from the copyright owners to record a poem, and we regret certain major omissions including poems by Rudyard Kipling and T. S. Eliot from the recordings. Some poems have been omitted because the books contain more material than can be accommodated on the records allocated. (Many of the longer poems, such as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, already appear in their complete versions on other Argo records.)
The sequences in which the poems appear have been arranged thematically, and the records are banded in approximately ten-minute sections to enable the listener to choose a section from the record rather than to feel himself compelled to listen to a whole side. Although we hope that the complete Anthology will fulfill the need for a library of recorded material for children in the suggested age-range, there is certainly no necessity to purchase all fifteen records at once to obtain those which, through particular felicity of choice or performance prove to be highlights in the series.
It has been the aim of the Editor, myself as Producer, and of all the Artists taking part, to present poetry and song as an exciting adjunct to everyday language. We have sought with each poem to present it as naturally as possible within the framework of poetry and drama. We have tried to avoid the 'set-piece, poetry voice' approach to any poem. We have not slowed the pace of delivery to make these recordings 'suitable for children'. Each item in this Anthology has been subjected to the critical appraisal of performance before its final selection for a place in the record. The song element based on folk song both in the traditional and modern idiom, has been carefully edited to provide musically satisfactory performing versions. We have attempted to link the aural tradition of song with poetry especially by including some of the longer narrative ballads which are finding wide appreciation in the folk clubs and many schools. A number of the poems and many songs are performed in regional dialect.
There can be no perfect anthology to meet all tastes and requirements. The best anthology should always be one's own private collection of well loved, tried and tested material. Thus the best we, as producers of this anthology, may hope for is to have provided a library of exciting performances to enrich the teaching of English, and thus lead to a lasting appreciation of the beauty and variety of our language. We would like to feel that these records will be widely used in the classroom, and that teachers will select individual poems and sequences, as well as complete sides, in order to catch and stimulate the imagination of the listener. But we also hope that these records will find a place in the home where they should delight parents as well as children.
A booklet on this series, entitled Poetry and Song In the Classroom, is in preparation, and will be available from Argo in early 1968.
This will give a complete list of all the poems recorded for this Anthology, and will amplify our reasons for including many of the poems and sequences, and suggestions for the use of recorded poetry as a stimulus for creative writing. It will also list exact sources for all the folk songs collected for these records.
The choice of illustrations for the sleeves of these records has been made with the kind co-operation of The Sunday Mirror, who made available the winning entries from the last ten years of their famous Children's Art Competition. We have tried to select pictures that have some reference to the particular record they decorate, but we have also chosen pictures which in themselves possess a high degree of originality and artistic merit.
Harley Usill © 1967