I was wondering why the otherwise excellent 1958 Junior Classics, on which I was raised, are so de-Christianized and de-masculinized in comparison with the 1918 edition. Then I looked a little closer at the title pages of the 1958 edition. At the front of each and every volume was this:
The JUNIOR CLASSICS
Edited by MABEL WILLIAMS and MARCIA DALPHIN
“The lesson, as always, is this: women ruin everything.”
– The Sports Guy aka Bill Simmons
The 2020 edition is therefore a restoration will make the Junior Classics great again. In addition to restoring the missing 1918 elements, we will be adding one (1) new classic of our own selection per volume. For example, to Volume 10: The Poetry Book, we will add my favorite poem, a darkly elegaic masterpiece by the inimitable Lord Byron.
Lines Inscribed Upon a Cup Formed from a Skull
Start not – nor deem my spirit fled;
In me behold the only skull
From which, unlike a living head,
Whatever flows is never dull.
I lived, I loved, I quaffed, like thee:
I died: let earth my bones resign;
Fill up – thou canst not injure me;
The worm hath fouler lips than thine.
Better to hold the sparkling grape,
Than nurse the earth-worm’s slimy brood;
And circle in the goblet’s shape
The drink of gods, than reptile’s food.
Where once my wit, perchance, hath shone,
In aid of others’ let me shine;
And when, alas! our brains are gone,
What nobler substitute than wine?
Quaff while thou canst: another race,
When thou and thine, like me, are sped,
May rescue thee from earth’s embrace,
And rhyme and revel with the dead.
Why not? since through life’s little day
Our heads such sad effects produce;
Redeemed from worms and wasting clay,
This chance is theirs, to be of use.
It may interest you to know that this will NOT be the only Byron work to appear in Volume 10, which is otherwise heavy on Blake, Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Keats, and Longfellow.