The greater portion of this book deals with the remote life of a remote past. ÒThe Shadow-Seers,Ó however, though of to-day, may equally be of yesterday or to-morrow; and as for ÒThe Last SupperÓ or ÒThe Fisher of Men,Ó they are of no time or date, for they are founded upon elemental facts which are modified but not transformed by the changing years.
It may be the last of its kind I shall writeÑat any rate, for a time. I would like it to be associated with you, to whom not only the mystery but the pagan sentiment and the old barbaric emotion are so near. With the second sight of the imagination we can often see more clearly in the perspectives of the past than in the maze of the present; and most clearly when we recognise that, below the accidents of time and circumstance, the present is but a reflection of that past to which we belongÑbelong, as intimately and inalienably, as to the hour wherein happily content we swing to those anchors which we do not see are linked to us by ropes of sand.Ê
In the preparation of this edition I have carefully followed the author's written and spoken instructions as to selection, deletion, and arrangement. To the preliminary arrangement he gave much thought, especially to the revision of the text, and he made considerable changes in the later version of certain of the poems and tales. In one instance only have I acted on my own judgment, and have done so because I felt satisfied he would have offered no objection to my suggestion. In accordance with his decision the romance Green Fire is not reissued in its entirety, because he considered the construction of it to be seriously defective. He rewrote the second half of the storyÑthe only portion he cared to keepÑrenamed it "The Herdsman" and included it in The Dominion of Dreams. Scattered throughout Green Fire there are a number of "Thoughts" which I and other readers are desirous of preserving; I have therefore gathered them together and have included them in the form of detached "Fragments."
The Laughter of Peterkin is also excluded, because it is a retelling of old familiar Celtic tales and not primarily an original work. Two of these retellings, however, Deirdre and the Sons of Usna, and The Four White Swans have been published separately in America by Mr. Mosher (Portland, Maine).
Though the "Fiona Macleod" phase belongs to the last twelve years of William Sharp's life, the formative influences which prepared the way for it went back to childhood. Though "the pains and penalties of impecuniosity" during his early struggles in London tended temporarily to silence the intuitive subjective side of his nature in the necessary development of the more objective intellectual "William Sharp"Ñcritic, biographer, essay and novel writer as well as poetÑhe never lost sight of his desire to give expression to his other self.Ê