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In collecting, arranging, editing, and preserving the "Songs of the Cattle Trail and Cow Camp," my friend John Lomax has performed a real service to American literature and to America. No verse is closer to the soil than this; none more realistic in the best sense of that much-abused word; none more truly interprets and expresses a part of our national life. To understand and appreciate these lyrics one should hear Mr. Lomax talk about them and sing them; for they were made for the voice to pronounce and for the ears to hear, rather than for the lamplit silence of the library. They are as oral as the chants of Vachel Lindsay; and when one has the pleasure of listening to Mr. Lomax--who loves these verses and the men who first sang them--one reconstructs in imagination the appropriate figures and romantic setting.

For nothing is so romantic as life itself. None of our illusions about life is so romantic as the truth. Hence the purest realism appeals to the mature imagination more powerfully than any impossible prettiness can do. The more we _know_ of individual and universal life, the more we are excited and stimulated.

And the collection of these poems is an addition to American Scholarship as well as to American Literature. It was a wise policy of the Faculty of Harvard University to grant Mr. Lomax a traveling fellowship, that he might have the necessary leisure to discover and to collect these verses; it is really "original research," as interesting and surely as valuable as much that passes under that name; for it helps every one of us to understand our own country.


Yale University, July 27, 1919.