Ballads & Songs of Southern Michigan-songbook

A Collection of 200+ traditional songs & variations with commentaries including Lyrics & Sheet music

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes



Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
2o           Ballads and Songs of Michigan
because such survivals are all of the original ballad which they have ever heard. Many ballads and songs, like version B of "Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight," survive only as one stanza or as unrelated fragments, although an informant may recall that there was more to the song and not infrequently is able to relate the whole story, as was Mrs. Sheldon that of "Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight."
According to Krohn, the most easily forgotten elements are in­troductions and descriptions, which have no great connection with a basic theme. Examples of the tendency to leave out such passages may be seen in the Michigan forms of "The Waxford Girl," "The Maid in Sorrow," "Who Is Tapping at My Bedroom Window?", and "Oxford City," the last of which omits stanzas 3, 4, and 6 of the less corrupt Vermont and New Brunswick versions.
Now and again the underlying idea is preserved while the ex­pression varies greatly, as in the A and B versions of "The Green Beds." One excellent example of the kind of forgctfulncss which re­sults in the fusion, of two ballads or songs is furnished in the present collection by "The Silver Dagger" and "The Drowsy Sleeper" (see p. 88); another, by "Farewell He" and "My Love Is on the Ocean." Very many fine songs such as "The Two Sisters" and "Lamkin" have deteriorated into dry skeletons of what they once were.
In case a singer experiences a lapse of memory at the end of a tragic romantic love ballad he may consciously or unconsciously close it with the familiar briar-rose motive found at the end of "Barbara Allen," "Lord Lovcl," and "Sweet William and Lady Margaret," which are given in the present collection. In refrains all manner of improvisations and shifts may take place. The most interesting illustration of this in our collection is what was formerly an herbal refrain, which named herbs once considered of magical virtue in protecting their wearer or invoker against evil. According to Miss Lucy Broadwood, the refrain of "The Elfin Knight," which in some English versions is
Jennifer gentle and rosemary
As the dew flies over the mulberry tree,
becomes in a text of the same ballad in Sharp's Southern Appalachian Songs:
Jury flower gent the rose berry*
In Michigan what appears to be a decayed form of the same refrain has altogether deserted "The Elfin Knight" and taken up its home
* Cited by Miss A. G. Gilchrist, "A Note on the 'Herb* and Other Refrains of Certain British Ballads," JFSS, VIII, 237-247,







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