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American Poetry 1: 1600-1900 provides access to the full text of over 40,000 poems by more than 200 poets, covering the Colonial period to the early twentieth century, and drawn from over 1,200 printed sources.
The bibliographic basis of American Poetry is the Bibliography of American Literature (Yale University Press, 1955-1991). This has been extensively supplemented with additional poets recommended by the Editorial Board to provide a more thorough representation. The database aims to include the complete works of all major poets and a substantial number of secondary figures. It principally covers the period to 1900, although a few poets active after 1900 are also included.
In general, texts contemporary with their authors were preferred, and, when available, collected editions. For those poets whose established canon could not be covered by contemporary printings, reliable later editions have been included. Volume-specific front and back matter, such as advertisements, prefaces, introductions, editorial apparatus, dedicatory epistles, biographies, glossaries and indexes has usually been excluded. Any accompanying text written by the poet and forming an integral part of the poem, such as dedications, notes, arguments and epigraphs, is also generally included.
Only a single version of each poem usually appears. Exceptions to this rule have been made for significant revisions to major works, e.g. five editions of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass have been included. In addition to the works of these 200 poets, four major anthologies published before 1840 appear in their entirety; poems found in some poets' collections are duplicated in the anthologies. Poems published only in journals, gazettes, or periodicals have generally been excluded, as have translations of non-English works. When material from a work is omitted for any of the above reasons, the omission is noted in the relevant bibliographic entry. The Editorial Board nevertheless recommended exceptions to these criteria when works which did not meet them were considered too important to be excluded.