American Ballads and Songs

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INTRODUCTION
xxix
colored by emotion, the language of American oral song is plain. Finery and elegance are lost if they were ever present. The folk-memory is intent on story and situation and it cares little for coherence or ornament. The conventional epithets of the Old World ballads do not appear in American ballads and, except when in­herited, as in Johnny Randall, or Edward, or The Cruel Brother, the legacy motive and the sequence mannerism of the English and Scottish ballads are wanting. Common, however, is the "Come all ye" formula of invitation at the opening. This is charac­teristic of later British and Irish ballads, and has been domesticated in America from immigrant song
IX. Conscious interest in the traditional balladry of the people arose in England in the eighteenth cen­tury. In the latter half of that century the effort to recover and make public pieces of especial interest was made by many collectors. The impulse took on added momentum in the nineteenth century and has maintained itself, gaining rather than losing, into the twentieth. American enthusiasm for ballads came a hundred years later. The latter half of the nine­teenth century brought the first important attempts to gather and preserve songs in traditional currency. The names of historic collectors for America are those of Professor Francis James Child (1825-1896) of Har­vard, whose interest in English and Scottish ballads led to his preservation of many such pieces in their New World form, William Wells Newell (1839-1907), a founder of the American Folk-Lore Society and a collector of the games and songs of American children, and Professor G. L. Kittredge, upon whom fell the mantle of Professor Child at Harvard. Professor Kittredge has interested himself in all kinds of American traditional pieces, not only in English and Scottish






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III