Cowboy Songs And Other Frontier Ballads

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the forms at last securely theirs, in the final rigidity of print. In this collection of American ballads, al­most if not quite uniquely, it is possible to trace the J precise manner in which songs and cycles of song — obviously analogous to those surviving from older and antique times — have come into being. The facts which are still available concerning the ballads of our own Southwest are such as should go far to prove, or to disprove, many of the theories advanced concerning the laws of literature as evinced in the ballads of the old world.
Such learned matter as this, however, is not so surely within my province, who have made no tech­nical study of literary origins, as is the other consid­eration which made me feel, from my first knowl­edge of these ballads, that they are beyond dispute valuable and important. In the ballads of the old world, it is not historical or philological considera­tions which most readers care for. It is the wonder­ful, robust vividness of their artless yet supremely true utterance; it is the natural vigor of their surgent, unsophisticated human rhythm. It is the sense, de­rived one can hardly explain how, that here is ex­pression straight from the heart of humanity; that here is something like the sturdy root from which the finer, though not always more lovely, flowers of polite literature have sprung. At times when we yearn for polite grace, ballads may seem rude; at times when polite grace seems tedious, sophisticated, corrupt, or mendacious, their very rudeness refreshes