Peter Swaab (ed.), Sara Coleridge: Collected Poems

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pg 15Note on the Text

For reasons given in the introduction, the poems are ordered chronologically, by date of publication when possible, and otherwise by date of composition.

When the poem was published in Sara Coleridge's lifetime, the published version has been used as copy-text. In other cases, I have used the Red Book (RB) or the five volumes of Children's Verses (CV) as copy-text; and used other manuscripts (MS) as copy-text only for poems and drafts included in neither RB nor CV. In cases where the poem exists in more than one version, I have made RB the copy-text unless otherwise noted. The notes at the end give sources and dates (in some cases conjectural) for all poems, and also give fuller bibliographical details of the Red Book and the volumes of children's verse.

The Red Book and CV poems are readily legible, while many of the MS ones are difficult or impossible to decipher. I have put doubtful readings in square brackets, for instance '[?sighed]', and the very few indecipherable ones (on pp. 149 and 244–5) in square brackets, with some indication of the number and length of the illegible words, for instance '[––––––– –– –––––––––]'.

The poems that Sara Coleridge saw through the press tend to be more heavily punctuated than the fair copies she made in RB and CV, and her manuscript drafts are the least punctuated of all. These differences are preserved in this edition; the notes give sources for all the poems. I have not altered or added to her punctuation, except in a few cases to close quotation marks and provide full stops and question marks when these were clearly intended. It has sometimes been impossible confidently to distinguish between her semicolons and colons, and in a few cases between her commas and full stops, but I have made my best guess for these and not recorded them in the text or notes.

The text has been very lightly edited. I have modernised the layout of quotation marks and parentheses, and the spelling of a few words and usages (such as 'tis, not 't is, and hers not her's). I have expanded Sara Coleridge's elisions, most frequently for past tenses ending 'd, except in those cases where the elision helps to indicate the metric (as in 'Heav'n' and 'flow'r', both of which she uses often).

For many poems Sara Coleridge recorded alternative words and phrases – and in some cases lines and stanzas – above or between the lines, or in the margins or at the end. Some of these look like second pg 16thoughts or intended revisions, some of them alternatives between which she has not yet decided. I have not incorporated any of these alternatives into the text, on the grounds that when she clearly wanted to change a word or line, it has been deleted. But – although this is not a variorum edition – I have recorded the most substantial and interesting variants in the notes. Both here and in my inclusion of a few draft poems and scraps of light verse, I have tried to err on the side of preserving everything that looks as if it might be of interest, either as being good verse or as being illuminating about Sara Coleridge.

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