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The sonnet which begins the book and particularly that which ends the book have been very widely quoted, and ‘Envoy’ has been set to music by more than one celebrated musician. Whatever the monotony of a sonnet sequence (and it is a form which I should not have chosen if I had been older and wiser) there has been a continuous, if limited, demand for the little book. As Edmund Clarence Stedman said in a review, it was a book which had to be written. It was an impulse, a vision, and a revealing, and, in his own words in a letter to me, “It was to be done whether you willed it or no, and there it is a truthful thing of which you shall be glad in spite of what you say.”
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‘A Lover’s Diary’ has not the same modest history as ‘Embers’. As far back as 1894 it was given to the public without any apology or excuse, but I have been apologising for it ever since, in one way—without avail. I wished that at least one-fifth of it had not been published; but my apology was never heard till now as I withdraw from this edition of A Lover’s Diary some twenty-five sonnets representing fully one-fifth of the original edition. As it now stands the faint thread of narrative is more distinct, and redundancy of sentiment and words is modified to some extent at any rate. Such material story as there is, apart from the spiritual history embodied in the sonnets, seems more visible now, and the reader has a clearer revelation of a young, aspiring, candid mind shadowed by stern conventions of thought, dogma, and formula, but breaking loose from the environment which smothered it. The price it pays for the revelation is a hopeless love informed by temptation, but lifted away from ruinous elements by self-renunciation, to end with the inevitable parting, poignant and permanent, a task of the soul finished and the toll of the journey of understanding paid.
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